Rhododendron Conference, Royal Botanic
John M. Hammond
In conjunction with the Rhododendron Conference, "Rhododendrons in Horticulture & Science," the R.B.G., Edinburgh, has requested the Scottish Chapter to arrange a Pre- & Post- Conference Tour Programme to a selection of key rhododendron gardens in Scotland. The programme includes a number of mature private rhododendron gardens that are being specially opened at the chapter's request. The following details will be of interest to members planning to visit Scotland this coming spring.
Pre-Conference Tour: Monday 13th-Wednesday 15th May
Stonefield Castle Hotel, a highly regarded establishment with an award-winning restaurant, has a commanding view across the reaches of Loch Fyne and will be the base for our three-day Pre-Conference Tour of gardens on Scotland's West Coast. Stonefield itself is a renowned garden with mature plants dating back to Hooker's original introductions.
Our tour commences in Edinburgh and will take the ferry from Gourock to Dunoon where we will visit the Benmore garden of the R.B.G. and Eckford, the nearby private garden of David Younger, a plantsman's garden that will more than repay a little exploration. A late-afternoon visit to Ardkinglas, a beautiful woodland garden at the head of Loch Fyne and the home of the Noble family, will be followed by the journey around the loch-side to Tarbert and will end day one.
The following morning we are expecting to visit Crarae Glen garden whose future the National Trust for Scotland ( N.T. for S.) is hoping to secure as a result of the recent Crarae in Crisis Appeal. Lunch will be taken at the Secret Garden of Baravalla, the private garden of Peter Cox and Sir Peter Hutchison, near Tarbert. In recent years the garden has been extended and there have been some interesting new plantings. A late-afternoon conducted tour of Stonefield Castle garden will end day two.
Day three begins with a visit to Tigh-an-rhuda, near Ardrishaig, a mature private garden on the shores of Loch Fyne originally planted by Mrs. K. L. Kenneth and more recently the home of Dr. Angus Mackay. Lunch will be taken at the Arduaine garden of the N.T. for S., originally one of the Campbell gardens and lovingly restored over a twenty-year period by the Wright Brothers. A late-afternoon visit to Glenarn garden at Rhu, originally planted by the Gibson Brothers and gradually restored by Mike & Sue Thornley over the past ten years, will complete the garden visit programme prior to returning to Edinburgh where the tour will finish.
Post-Conference Tour: Tuesday 21st May
A one-day Post-Conference Tour will visit Scotland's Tayside gardens. The tour commences in Edinburgh then heads out across the Forth Road Bridge to Perth. Our first visit is to the Branklyn garden of the N.T. for S., an outstanding plantsman's garden originally laid out by John and Dorothy Renton that features a rock and scree Sino-Himalayan planting. Lunch will be taken during a visit to the world renowned Glendoick Gardens & Nursery, home of Peter and Patricia Cox and Kenneth and Jane Cox. The woodland garden dates back to the 1920s and is located on a fairly steep slope. The nurseries that were established in 1954 by Ewan and Peter Cox are currently being further developed by Kenneth Cox. In the afternoon we head south across the Firth of Tay to the gardens of Balbirnie House which contain a large collection of mature rhododendrons and specimen trees. Originally the home of the Balfour Family, this garden contains many plants and trees that were raised from seed collected on the early expeditions and yet is relatively unknown and infrequently visited by rhododendron enthusiasts. The tour will then return to Edinburgh where it will finish.
Whilst the Scottish Chapter has planned the Itinerary for both of the tours and is organising the conducted tours of the gardens, we have arranged for the transport, accommodation, meals and booking details to be handled by Brightwater Holidays, a professional Scottish tour operator who specialise in horticultural tours. These tours offer an opportunity to visit a wide range of gardens at a very competitive package price that includes all garden admission and tour costs.