The Explorer’s Garden in Pitlochry

Ever since I read Seeds of Blood and Beauty, a fascinating book about the preeminence of the early Scottish plant hunters, not to mention an abundance of untimely and sometimes intriguing deaths, I’ve been fascinated by these early pioneers of horticulture.

The Explorer's Garden in Pitlochry

Many of the plants we take for granted in our gardens are not native species and the Explorer’s Garden tells the stories of these astonishing men who travelled the world and endured extreme hardships to bring us plants and trees for cultivation, commerce and conservation.

The Explorer's Garden in Pitlochry

The garden is laid out representing areas of the world from where the species originated, along with storyboards shedding light on individual stories, travels and achievements.

The Explorer's Garden in Pitlochry

It’s still pretty early in the season, and having just bagged two snow clad munroes (Ben Macdui and Cairngorm) the day before, I knew it wasn’t going to be at its best but it had been on my ‘to do’ list for so long I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit that our Easter weekend away presented.

The Explorer's Garden in Pitlochry

The garden has a lovely feel to it and it’s quite a bit bigger than I’d been expecting. The volunteer on the gate was super-friendly, telling me where she’d seen red squirrels that morning and showing me where the first yellow meconopsis had just bloomed the day before (they host the National Meconopsis Plant Collection). There was also a lovely exhibition of photographs celebrating modern Scottish plant hunters in the pavilion.

The Explorer's Garden in Pitlochry

Whilst it was still beautiful with plenty of points of interest, architecture and spots of colour I think that in a few weeks time this garden will be absolutely stunning – I really hope to be able to return again and see it then, although I suspect I would have to trade the pleasure and solitude of an out of season visit to be able to see it at its best. The red squirrels were a charming bonus.

The Explorer's Garden in Pitlochry

A wee plug while I can – whilst you can visit any day (in season), the Explorer’s Garden are opening in aid of Scotland’s Garden Scheme on Sunday 2nd June, when it should be looking absolutely fabulous, so, if you fancy visiting it, please consider doing so on this day as the money raised does so much good for the charities being supported.

Looking for Community Groups who’d Like to Visit a Garden…

Anyone know of any Scottish-based community groups who might benefit from a visit to one of our gardens…?

This year Scotland’s Garden Scheme will join sister organisation, the National Gardens Scheme who cover England and Wales, to hold Gardens and Health Week the 11th – 19th May.

The health and well-being aspect of being in a garden is a key element to our programme of garden openings this year. The physical and mental benefits of gardens and gardening are well known – when we’re stressed they can calm us and provide a wonderful head space to relax and for mindfulness.

Gardens and Health Week will give community groups, hospices, support groups and schools free access to participating volunteer’s gardens. The aim of this is to benefit people, who might not necessarily have the chance to visit a garden and show how therapeutic and inspiring garden spaces can be.

If you know a community group or school who would like to get involved, or you would like to open your garden to a visit between the 11th – 19th May, contact

101 Greenbank Crescent

So, as part of my new job at Scotland’s Garden Scheme, I’ve decided that I’m going to try and ‘bag’ all the gardens – with over 500 open in any one year (some opening every other year), this could take me some time but at least I’ll now have plenty of opportunity.

As well as meeting lots of our wonderful volunteer garden openers across the country who open their gardens to visitors to raise money for over 200 charities, I should be able to get a whole heap of tips, and who knows, maybe even some seeds or cuttings.

Ready for veggies

My first ‘officially’ bagged garden is 101 Greenbank Crescent in Edinburgh. Jerry and Christine invited me along to show me around their labour of love. The garden is a steeply sloping series of terraces overlooking Braidburn Valley Park, each with a very different look and feel.

It’s a really interesting garden with winding steps, ponds, seating areas, a fairy garden, and a stunningly-shaped Kilmarnock willow, which annoyingly I didn’t photograph. Their aim is to have year-round colour, shape and structure. The Magnolia was looking wonderful as was the pear blossom. It’s not a highly manicured garden and has an air of easy charm that belies the years of hard work they’ve put into turning a grassy wilderness into what they have today – it’s definitely been a labour of love with most of the work being undertaken by Jerry and Christine themselves.

They’ve been opening for SGS for 10 years now and I can see why people would want to visit. They are open to visitors by arrangement from 13th April, until September and will be hosting an open day on Sunday 19th May. More info here.

Pear Blossom

New (dream) Job – and it’s gardening-related!

So, I’ve been a little quiet recently, but, I have some REALLY exciting news to share – I’ve got a new job and it couldn’t be more up my street! I’m the new marketing Manager for Scotland’s Garden Scheme (SGS), a charity that promotes health and well-being through opening gardens across Scotland to raise money for over 200 charities.

Having already visited a number of gardens open through the scheme in my area, I’m now looking forward to getting out and about and seeing many many more, from grand stately affairs to more modest city gardens and allotments. There should be plenty of walled gardens too – I do find them quite magical.

My first job is Gardens and Health Week, the 11th – 19th May – I’m looking for schools, hospices, care homes, welfare and community groups that might benefit from a visit to a garden. So, if you know a group that would like to take advantage of a free trip to one of our gardens, please do let me know.