Best garden


Huntly, Aberdeenshire, 0844 493 2175,

The garden at Leith Hall is the National Trust for Scotland's hidden gem. Set well away from the house it sits on the side of a south-facing hill. It deserves a lot more support in terms of numbers visiting. There are all sorts of features worth seeing. The moon gate is outstanding and is a fairly uncommon feature in Scottish gardens. A moon gate is usually constructed from stone encircling the shape of the moon and you step through it at its lowest point which is at ground level. It is an excellent construction for framing a view or making an entrance to another part of a garden. "When I first saw you through the moon gate, you were my dream," is the first line of a poem I wrote inspired by the physical beauty of the gate. The herbaceous and mixed borders are colourful from June into the autumn. The organic vegetable garden protected from aphids and other beasties by French marigolds is a joy to watch over a season. First-class produce is grown ensuring healthy eating for those fortunate enough to receive a share of the bounty.


Isle of Gigha, 01583 505275,

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The large mature camelias are spectacular in April. On a recent visit, I drove down Kintyre towards my destination and observed frosted camelias in gardens all the way down. I was dreading arriving at Achamore garden to find the camelias in the same state. A 20-minute ferry crossing from Tayinloan takes you over the sea to "God's Isle" and, low and behold, all the camelias were in perfect condition. My party was impressed. What a relief. The garden has a large collection of rhododendrons and many other plants worth seeing. The proud peacocks put up a good display for visitors. The garden is owned by the Gigha Heritage Trust, which has been a great success for local people. The trust is in the process of raising 391,000 for the first phase of improvements to the gardens.


Port Logan, 01852 300237,

This is a garden that is much loved by its public. It benefits from the Gulf Stream, which has become the North Atlantic Drift by the time it passes our shores. Many west-coast gardens benefit from this warmer water, which provides warm moist air in the winds off the sea. There is no guarantee that it will prevent winter frosts, however it does limit them and therefore limits frost damage to plants. Arum lilies flower really well out of doors on the edge of the pond, which is home to magnificent fish. Groves of Dicksonia antartica, the New Zealand tree fern, thrive outside. On the east coast in Edinburgh, the tree ferns have to be under glass at the Royal Botanic Garden. Take time to examine the cross-section of the tree fern trunk. You will see that the roots of this wonderful plant are on the outside of the trunk structure. Watering is achieved by wetting the trunk. Logan is part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Trust, as are Dawyck and Benmore gardens.


Portrack House, near Dumfries,

A visit will turn all your ideas of garden design on their heads. This garden is unique. It is a landscape of curls sweeps and spirals with expanses of water that create tranquility. Your mind is challenged by what you see. The paradise garden is a good example of a traditional garden within the overall design. This is a private garden. It is open once a year as part of the Scotland's Gardens Scheme to raise money for Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres. Groups that would like to visit may apply in writing to Mr Charles A Jencks, Portrack House, Holywood, Dumfries, DG2 0RW.

5 AN CALA (The Haven)

Isle of Seil, near Oban, 01852 300237

Cross the "bridge over the Atlantic" south of Oban and you are on the way to visit a most interesting garden. The garden has an expansive feel about it, even although it occupies a fairly small area. There is plenty to see including a fine Lirodendron tulipifera, the tulip tree, expansive borders of herbaceous plants, shrubs and small trees. The summer house is a must for children who can see cones and seed organised in symmetrical designs. This is a private garden that opens under Scotland's Gardens Scheme. However, visitors are welcome at other times by arrangement.

• Brian Sutherland leads garden and landscape walks for Culture and Sport Glasgow.