Opening a fantastic selection of gardens across Scotland to raise money for hundreds of charities
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Garden visiting in Scotland

The notion of garden visiting has been around a good while, even from the point of view of the open garden scheme. Scotland’s Gardens Scheme has opened gardens to the public for nigh on 90 years, we celebrated our 85th anniversary at Winton Castle in 2016.

A wildlife haven versus a formal knot garden, we can be given away by our horticultural tendancies.

Some might find the notion of peering at someone else’s flower beds unnerving or even invasive, but when considered from the other angle it is perfectly natural. Gardens are created to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Kailzie Gardens
Kailzie Gardens ©Jannie Bos

A wildlife haven versus a formal knot garden, we can be given away by our horticultural tendancies. This difference is one of the many wonderful things about visiting a garden, no two gardens are the same, not just because of their location or climate, but because of how they were designed and tended.


Of course, visiting a garden with Scotland’s Gardens Scheme has other advantages two: charitable donation and homemade teas. Scotland’s Gardens Scheme was initially set up in 1931 to fund support and training for the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland. They are still one of our main beneficiaries today, along with Perennial, the National Trust for Scotland Gardeners Fund and Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres. Then there are the teas, such pride and dedication is taken at so many garden openings to provide the finest teas, with many gardens claiming the best scones or Victoria sponge. It would be a foolish man who would dare to pass judgement.

Why visit a garden?

Well, firstly it’s an unique opportunity to peep over the garden fence. Most of the gardens that open with Scotland’s Gardens Scheme are private and therefore normally unavailable to the public.

Secondly, for support: support a charity, and they are normally local charities chosen by the garden owner, and support the gardener. It takes a lot of passion and dedication to look after a garden. It’s not all blue skies and sunshine, we are in Scotland after all! Any gardener will tell you that gardening often means lots of days working in the rain, tending to weeds and turning over compost.

It’s not all blue skies and sunshine, we are in Scotland after all!

Gardens are healing places. Take a step away from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. A walk around the serenity of someone’s else garden and the cool air from some green space can help jump start some ‘me time’. Self-care is vital and gardens are very good at nurturing.

For inspiration: whether you have a grey urban garden or you can’t decide what to do with your north facing flower bed someone out there will have the answer. You might not even realise you needed inspiration until you find it. On that note, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Garden owners love to talk about their gardens, so make your own Gardener’s Question time and ask for tips.

How do I visit a by arrangement garden? Does it have to be in a group?

Don’t be shy, just call or email the garden opener. Their contact details will be available on the garden page. They do want to see you, that’s why they open. Often gardens that open by arrangement are also open for a specific open day. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to go another time in case you can’t make the open day or you want to see the garden change through the seasons. Please do arrange a time and don’t just ‘rock up’.

Craigengillan Estate and Scottish Dark Sky Observatory
Craigengillan Estate and Scottish Dark Sky Observatory ©Rob Davis

Are only groups allowed? No, not necessarily. Again, it will state on the garden webpage whether there is a minimum group size for by arrangement openings but this isn’t normally the case. So, what are you waiting for?

It’s been a wild winter and it’s a delight to see the weather turning (those in the know say it will be sunny next week!). We’re all in need of some vitamin D and some time spent outdoors, so get yourself out to a garden opening!

Want to find more new gardens and garden events, we've got lots of exciting news for you on our 'What's New' page...just take a look: