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Cawdor Gardens

Rhododendrons bloom early in warmer weather

March 29th 2019

Scottish Rhododendron Festival set to be in full flower

This year’s Scottish Rhododendron Festival is geared up to be vibrant from day one, as many of these wonderful plants are already in full bloom because of the recent warmer temperatures.

The festival, which takes place from 1 April to 31 May, comprises more than 50 events across Scotland as gardens, estates and woodlands open to showcase their displays.

Returning for its fifth year, the annual festival is organised by national garden tourism group Discover Scottish Gardens and supported by VisitScotland. It aims to encourage local audiences and tourists to enjoy the wonders of Scottish gardens during the rhododendron flowering period and highlight the diversity of collections that can be found in Scotland.

Rhododendrons are a large family of around 1,000 species from small mountain shrubs to magnificent tree-like specimens. This year, many species have been flowering earlier than usual due to higher-than-average temperatures in most parts of the country.

In February, the Met Office reported an average temperature of 6°C in the UK, which is 2.4°C above the 1981-2010 long-term average. A southerly incursion from north Africa brought record-breaking temperatures and dry sunny weather throughout most parts of the country in the latter half of the month.

David Knott, Curator at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a world centre for rhododendron studies, said: “The warmer temperatures we have been experiencing provide optimum conditions for these exotic shrubs, originally from the east, to thrive. The unusual weather and early flowering also highlight the impact of climate change on plants and flowering behaviour – a situation we will continue to monitor at the Botanics.”

Four new venues will participate in this year’s festival including Abbotsford, Cawdor Castle, Cowden Japanese Garden and National Trust for Scotland’s Culzean Castle, with each hosting activities and Rhodo walks for all the family.

The festival was originally founded by the Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute and some of the most stunning rhododendron displays can be seen in the west of Scotland at gardens including Achamore, Glenarn and Benmore Botanic Garden. Elsewhere, Inverewe, Gordon Castle and Attadale Gardens in the north provide beautiful displays, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Branklyn and Glendoick Gardens in central Scotland and Dawyck, Glenwhan and Logan in the south.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Rhododendron Festival return for its fifth year and I’m thrilled to see so many attractions getting involved and making the most of the opportunity.

“Festivals like this draw in visitors and represent a major benefit to Scotland. Tourism is more than a holiday experience, it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.”

For more information and events listings, please visit: