It’s one of the most vivid signs of spring. Swathes of bright yellows, purples, pinks and reds spread their way across Scotland, brightening up the dullest of days. That’s right folks, its rhododendron time!
In 2018, the Scottish Rhododendron Festival will take place at a number of gardens, venues and properties across Scotland as these lovely flowers burst into bloom. Organised by Discover Scottish Gardens, this year’s festival will again run from 1 April – 31 May and will feature over 90 individual events. Some events are free or you can make a donation and some attract a small admission fee. Over half of the gardens are taking part to support open garden charity Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, which raises money for hundreds of local charities.
Fun fact: Rhododendrons require acidic soil to thrive and some of their natural habitats include the Himalayas, Japan and China. Luckily for us, most soil in Scotland is naturally acidic, making it a great place for these beautiful shrubs to flourish.
See all Scottish Rhododendron Festival events now. Here are just a few highlights:
With a ruined castle overlooking a beautiful walled garden, two lochs and an abundance of resident wildlife, the grounds at Castle Kennedy are a very special place indeed. They’ve been planting an impressive collection of trees and plants here for over 300 years, and their displays of rhodos and azaleas are not to be missed this season.
Hidden within a magnificent mountainside setting on the Cowal Peninsula, the Benmore Botanic Garden will welcome you through a fine entrance of towering, ancient redwoods. This spring, take some beautiful photographs here with the spectacular display of rhododendrons on show, or head up to the dramatic viewpoint at 140 m where you can look over the Holy Loch and the tips of neighbouring mountain peaks.
On a cheerful spring day in the capital, what could beat a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh? This iconic garden has studied the cultivation and conservation of rhododendrons in their natural habitats for many years. Take a stroll with a knowledgeable garden guide and admire the 260 exotic species which thrive inside the glasshouses.
Another delightful place for flower fanatics, the ancient species of rhododendrons that grow at Dawyck Botanic Garden in the Scottish Borders, are thought to be over 100 years old. Some highlights to behold include the picture-perfect Dutch Bridge, the blissful colours of spring along the Beech Walk and the vibrant Azalea Terrace.
Thanks to a mild climate swept in by the Gulf Stream, an exotic collection of unusual and beautiful plants blossom brightly in this little pocket of south west Scotland. Relax with a cuppa and a cake in the award-winning Potting Shed Bistro.
The rhododendrons here are legendary! The garden, near Perth, was founded by the green-fingered Cox family, who built a specialist plant nursery here in the 1950s, which has raised over 50 new hybrid rhododendrons and azaleas.
An oasis of peace and tranquillity, escape the everyday with a trip to Inverewe in the pretty Highland village of Poolewe. Owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland, the gardens here are home to everything from Australian tree ferns to Chinese rhodos and more recently, a grove of Wollemi pines.
For generations, Branklyn Garden has welcomed an explosion of colour from its exceptional setting on the side of Kinnoull Hill, overlooking Perth. This spring, keep an eye out for alpine flowers, dog’s tooth violets and the blue buttercup as you take an invigorating amble around the lush gardens.
Explore more of Scotland during the Year of Young People 2018 with exciting activities, events, festivals and more.
How are you celebrating the springtime joys of #rhodofest? Share all your pictures with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and visit Discover Scottish Gardens for more information about where to see rhododendrons this season.