A Visit to Branklyn Gardens

A few weeks ago in that spell of glorious weather that made it feel like a real summer here in Scotland we went to Perthshire. After visiting Scone Palace we headed back into Perth and stopped off at Branklyn Gardens which is run by the National Trust of Scotland Garden. It's a very long time since I've been there so it was interesting to go back and visit. The gardens were first created by John and Dorothy Renton in the 1920's around their arts and crafts inspired house. With a combination of plants and seeds brought back by plant hunters and their flare for creating a very unique garden they have left a garden and plant collection that attracts plant lovers from all over the world. 

Walking through the dappled shade of trees and shrubs

For me one of the attractions of Branklyn is the way the mature trees and shrubs have enclosed the garden, making it feel like a total escape away from the busy roads and town outside. Here you can lose yourself in the narrow paths that wind their way under big Rhododendrons, Acers and Magnolias searching for those special plants the gardens are well known for.

The rockery
Once into the garden proper you descend down a set of steps into the rockery where it sits in a pool of sunlight amongst the surrounding trees. Here many miniature gems are nestled in amongst the rocks, from miniature conifers to tiny Saxifrages they form a constantly changing pattern of form and colour through out the year. I feel Branklyn has a little bit of everything, a sample of Scottish gardens at it's best, a rockery, peat garden, pond, trees, woodland, bulbs, perennials and herbaceous borders.

Amazing Acers!

Colour doesn't have to come from flowers alone, I'm a great fan of foliage colour through out the year and these Acers didn't disappoint. The purple filigree foliage of the Acer palmatums contrast beautifully with the tall golden Acers and evergreen foliage is provided by many Rhododendrons, Embothrium and pines.

Big show off deciduous Azaleas in full flower

Calanthe tricarinata

Sometimes the most interesting and beautiful plants and flowers are the ones hiding away. While the riotous Rhododendrons and Azaleas shout here we are and there's is no missing them, sometimes it's worth getting down to ground level and searching out the more curious and hidden ones. The Calanthe above is a hardy Japanese species which was quite at home in the damp leafy soil under the trees.

Embothrium coccineum or Chilean Fire Bush

Visiting a NTS garden is like re-visiting the very beginning of my horticulture career thirty years ago. I spent the first three years of my career in NTS gardens first as a sixteen year old on the NTS YTS scheme then on the two year diploma course at Threave School of Gardening. I re-discover the first plants I learnt the Latin names of and plants I came across for the first time. Plants, like scent and music take me back to where I first met them or worked with them and more often than not it's Inveresk, Threave and Crathes. Names that roll off the tongue..... Enkianthus campanulatus, Humulus lupulus 'Aureus' and so on.

Enkianthus campanulatus with it's bell shaped flowers
hence the name from campanula or little bell

Thalictrums and Azaleas provide a profusion of colour with a confetti layer
 of petals on the path below

Can you tell I loved the Acers? I took a few photos!

Acers again

May is the perfect time to visit Branklyn with the Rhodoendrons and azaleas in full flower and early summer perennials starting to do their thing and then there is the Meconopsis. There were many groups of the blue Himalayan poppies through out the gardens, enjoying the dappled shade and rich soil.

Meconopsis 'Merit', an outstanding clear white 

Meconopsis with candelabra Primulas in the
 background making a fabulous combination

Perfect Himalayan poppies

Oooops Acers again!

Primula seiboldii

I hope you have enjoyed a wee wander around Branklyn Gardens as much as I did. I definitely hope not to leave it another twenty years before I make it back again. To plan a visit yourself see the website here Branklyn Gardens

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  1. Oooooh. Yes, I enjoyed it very much, thank you for the tip! I have a long list of places to visit when I get to Scotland though J
    The Acers are breathtaking, but so is the composition of plants, textures and colours! I would so love to have the lovely Himalayan poppies and candelabra Primulas - what a lovely photo - but our spring and summer seem a bit too dry for them. If they survive the winter then they just wither away in drought during the summer. The archipelago is one of the driest parts of Finland. I do envy your rain, even if you might sometimes get too much of it. But it does create very lush gardens.

    1. I always have a long list of places to visit, hopefully you will make a visit soon. The whole tapestry of colour be it foliage or flowers is striking in this garden. I've never thought of Finland as being so dry!


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