All rhododendrons lead to Scotland

Scottish gardens and horticultural businesses are taking part in a nationwide celebration of Scotland’s “second national flower” – the rhododendron.

Organised by Discover Scottish Gardens and supported for the first time this year by VisitScotland, the Scottish Rhododendron Festival runs until May 31.

Following the popular Scottish Snowdrop Festival, the Scottish Rhododendron Festival includes public gardens, castle grounds and estates.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye and the National Trust for Scotland’s Branklyn Garden in Perthshire are some of the top visitor attractions taking part.

The festival was launched by the Glorious Gardens of Argyll & Bute in 2015 and now in 2017, nearly 60 Scottish sites, including public and private gardens, are taking part.

They are offering horticultural events, guided tours and exclusive openings and more than half of participants are opening their gardens to raise money for national charity organisation Scotland’s Gardens.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, said: “Given the enormous popularity of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival over the last decade, it is only natural that our magnificent public gardens should celebrate the rhododendron.

“Many of the Scottish Rhododendron Festival locations are within the grounds of some of Scotland’s most historic buildings. Such buildings are a perfect fit for Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.”

Kenneth Cox, gardener, plant hunter and rhododendron specialist at Glendoick Gardens in Perth, added: “Some might say the rhododendron is Scotland’s second national flower.

“Although they don’t originate in Scotland, rhododendrons are very much at home here.

“Scotland is one of the places where woodland gardening with rhododendrons was invented. Hundreds of spectacular species thrive here and create stunning displays.”

Many of the rhododendron sites across Scotland are members of Discover Scottish Gardens, which launched in 2015 with help from the VisitScotland Growth Fund.

The organisation aims to put Scottish gardens, nurseries and garden related businesses on the tourism map and to showcase the nation’s outstanding horticulture and plant diversity.

Pictured are the gardens at Inveraray.