THE chance to see a hosta named after Andy Murray is one of the highlights this year of a garden open-day scheme that has raised £1m since it began in 2011.
Tennis player Andy Murray is well known for his sporting achievements not least of which was winning the Wimbledon Championships last year and an Olympic gold medal in 2012.
When it comes to the world of horticulture, though, his is not the first name to spring to mind. This year, however, visitors to the Dunblane Community Garden in Murray’s home town will be able to see a hosta named after the Scot in honour of his accomplishments.
Hosta ‘Andy Murray’ has blue leaves with a white margin to represent the colours of the Saltire.
In addition the hosta, bred by American nurseryman Bob Solberg, has a broken line of gold flashing to represent Murray’s Olympic gold medal.
The community garden in Dunblane, which also boasts one of the world’s longest hosta borders, is the first recipient of the plant which won’t become widely available in the UK until 2015. And on June 8, it will open its gates to members of the public as part of a programme of garden open days run by the charity, Scotland’s Gardens.
In the past three years this scheme has raised more than £1 million for other charities such as Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, the Queen’s Nursing Institute, the Gardens Fund of the National Trust for Scotland and Perennial.
Dunblane is one of several community gardens opening to the public for the first time this year.
Also opening are Ninewells Community Garden in Dundee – a therapeutic and sensory space which featured on the BBC’s The Beechgrove Garden, The Community Garden on Orkney, Strathkinness Community Trust in Fife and Watch Us Grow in Cumbernauld. In total a record 600 gardens, connected to everything from city homes and large country houses to castles and rural crofts, will be holding open days.
“We’re so pleased to have more gardens opening than ever before which means there really is a garden for every sort of taste,” says Paddy Scott, chief executive officer of Scotland’s Gardens. “We have more than 60 new gardens opening in 2014 ranging from fabulous snowdrops at Booklands in Kirkcudbrightshire to six glorious gardens in Orkney.
“Dun Dubh is a wonderful new garden on the banks of Loch Ard which has been dramatically re-created, Balker Farmhouse is a colourful and interesting garden near Stranraer, whilst Anworth Old Schoolhouse is a beautiful romantic cottage-style garden.
“Rofsie Arts Garden in Fife has an interesting collection of daffodils and other plants of the Blackhouse dynasty. Fasque House provides a remarkable example of new gardens and restored grounds along with vast walled gardens in the midst of restoration. Wemyss Castle has an amazing display of roses and clematis.
“A theme for 2014 is definitely community gardening. An increasing number of amateur gardeners are clubbing together and creating wonderful green spaces for the public to enjoy which is so lovely to see and we hope will encourage even more people to get the gardening bug.”
The Scotland’s Gardens season starts in earnest next month with around 30 properties opening as part of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival.
From Dunskey Gardens in Wigtownshire, offering 43 named varieties of snowdrops, to Abriachan Garden Nursery in Inverness, with its winding pathways through native woodlands, visitors across the country will be able to enjoy stunning displays of this much-loved flower.
In April, daffodil fans should head for Brodie Castle in Inverness, when the grounds are carpeted with species of narcissus only found in the castle gardens, or to Megginch Castle in Perth and Kinross and Winton House in East Lothian.
Summer is the busiest season with three new events taking place in June and July.
Replacing last year’s garden trail, when nine gardens opened over a two-month period, the Fife Garden Festival will see 10 gardens opening their gates to visitors – many for the first time – on the weekend of June 7-8.
This will be followed by the East Lothian Garden Trail from June 17-21 where for £20, people can visit 10 gardens in close proximity over one or several days.
The trail takes in everything from inland and high exposed gardens where visitors will have a chance to see late rhododendrons, azaleas, primula and blue Himalayan poppies, to coastal gardens boasting roses and herbaceous borders.
Finally on four Sundays in June and July, six gardens in Orkney will open to the public for the first time as part of the Orkney Garden Trail.
From seaside and community gardens to village and town gardens, they all have something different to offer, while at the same time showing what can be achieved by gardeners in these northerly islands with their harsh climate.
In other parts of the country, villagers have banded together to open their gardens on a given day. In Fife, several gardens will open in St Monan’s village in May while Dirleton village in East Lothian will open gardens of various sizes and types on June 7 and 8. Both Newcastleton and St Boswells in Roxburghshire will hold village garden events in July and in August visitors will be able to visit small and medium-sized gardens in Killearn, Stirlingshire.
Autumn brings different colours to the garden and for the best displays head north to the Highlands.
In September, visitors to Kildrummy Castle in Aberdeenshire will be treated to a brilliant colour scheme courtesy of its acers, fothergillas and viburnums while in October, Inchmarlo House’s five-acre woodland garden offers autumn colour with its beeches as well as some more unusual trees such as Pere David’s maple, Erman’s birch and a mountain snowdrop tree.
With such a varied programme of garden openings and events on offer this year, Scotland’s Gardens is hoping for a repeat of last year’s long hot summer to make up for the cold spring and three previous disappointing summers.
“Looking ahead we have a record number of gardens in our 2014 portfolio and provided we get something like a decent summer we could easily raise more funds than ever before,” says Paddy Scott.
• For more information about the Scotland’s Gardens events you can buy a copy of the Scotland’s Gardens 2014 guidebook, £5.50, which is on sale in major bookshops, garden centres or online at www.scotlandsgardens.org