This time of year brings out everyone’s green-fingered aspirations.
As the weather warms up and the shops are filled with barbecues, plants and garden furniture, many long for our own gardens to be lush and attractive retreats.
For some, the allure of the garden may only occur in high summer, for others it’s a year-long labour of love.
And for the next few months the public is being invited to take a tour of some of the country’s most beautiful gardens.
Thanks to the Scotland’s Gardens charity, hundreds of examples of stunning horticulture will be opening their gates, allowing people not only to admire the grounds, but contribute to their best-loved causes.
Over the past three years, Scotland’s Gardens has raised over £1 million for a variety of charities by charging a small admission charge to gardens that are largely private.
The charity’s main beneficiaries – the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, Perennial, the Gardeners’ Fund for the National Trust and Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres – receive 60 per cent of the takings, while the gardeners or garden owners pick their own causes to benefit from the remainder.
It means that charities ranging from local hospices to international aid funds have received a cut in Scotland’s Gardens 85-year history.
Maggie’s is one of the most recent beneficiaries and has a special link with the project.
Maggie Keswick Jencks, one of the founders of Maggie’s, lived with advanced cancer for two years.
As a landscape architect, connecting with the natural world was very important to Maggie and gardens are a vital part of every Maggie’s Centre.
Each garden is carefully created to be a welcoming extension of the inside of the centre, offering visitors uplifting views and a connection to the changing seasons and, in warmer weather, a place to relax.
So if you fancy exploring some truly wonderful gardens and supporting charities like Maggie’s, here’s a taste of what’s on offer nearby.
The Kilsyth Gardens incorporate two gardens – Aeolia and Blackmill.
Aeolia is a third of an acre woodland garden, designed to have something in flower every month of the year.
The garden contains a large variety of mature specimen trees and shrubs, maples, primulas, hardy geraniums and herbaceous plants.
Owners George and Joyce Murdoch are members of the Scottish Rhododendron Society and have a collection of more than 100 specimens.
Across the road, Blackmill is a garden of two parts as the Garrel Burn runs through the property. On one side is an acre of mature specimen trees, rhododendrons and shrubs on the site of an old water-powered mill.
There is an ornamental pond and a rock pool built into the remains of the mill building. On the other side, there is a further two acres of woodland glen with paths along the Garrel Burn with views to waterfalls, one with a seven metre drop.
Alison Patrick, of Blackmill, owns the garden with husband Alan.
She said: “It’s a very relaxing place to be. The sound of the water running is very calming.
“We’ve been involved with Scotland’s Gardens for 12 years and get a lot of satisfaction from showing people around.
“I’ve been involved with this garden for over 40 years. Although people see different things in it, to us it is home and a lovely place to be.”
The Kilsyth gardens, off Allanfauld Road, will be open on Sunday, June 12, from 2pm to 5pm and by arrangement until September 30. Admission is £6.50 including entry to the gardens and a home-made tea.
Strathcarron Hospice in Denny will receive 40 per cent of the money, with the remainder going to Scottish Garden’s beneficiaries.
Centred around the exciting restoration project at Castlebank Park in Lanark, Castlebank Gardens is also taking part this year.
The public park has been lovingly restored by hard-working volunteers – after falling into a state of neglect. Now, after raising more than £300,000 to restore the Victorian terrace and fairy dell, those behind all the hard work can’t wait to show it off.
Sylvia Russell, chairman of Lanark Community Development Trust, said: “It has taken a lot of work but it’s all been worth it and we are very proud of it.
“We’re very excited about the William Wallace memorial garden and a statue we commissioned has just arrived and is now in place.
“We have also planted 100 Braveheart roses and 100 Freedom roses. Castlebank Gardens are a cluster of gardens, including two small but beautiful gardens, but the park will be the hub on the open day with the horticultural centre and plant stall.”
Castlebank Gardens will be open on Sunday, June 12, from 1pm to 5.30pm and admission is £5.
Lanark Community Development Trust will receive 40 per cent of the donations which will be used for the restoration of Castlebank Gardens.
Kamares in Newton Mearns will open in July.
Sitting in two-thirds of an acre, the hacienda-style house is surrounded by mature trees and a beech hedge. It is owned by artist Laura Harrison and her husband Derek.
It includes a well-established pond, a collection of acers, well-established, colourful shrub and herbaceous borders and a living sculptural arbour.There are also two redwoods propagated from seeds from the largest tree in the world, the General Sherman sequoia from North America.
Laura said: “It’s completely and utterly a hobby and we love it. We inherited the garden and have re-designed it over the past 30 years.
“It has masses of colour in the spring and is herbaceous in the summer months.
“This is the second year we have been involved with Scotland’s Gardens. We are usually very private people but it is such a pleasure to be able to share the garden with others and also be able to contribute to charity.”
Kamares, 18 Broom Road, Newton Mearns, is open on Sunday, July 24, from 2pm to 5pm. Admission is £5, with Jewish Care Scotland the owners’ chosen charity.
For a full list of all the gardens taking part in this year’s scheme and their opening times, visit www.scotlandsgardens.org.
The website also includes information about the many beneficiaries.