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Scottish Garden of the Season – Inverewe

March 1st 2018

Main image: Adrian Hollister


 Why visit?

National Trust for Scotland’s award winning Inverewe Garden has benefitted in the growth and international interest in Scotland, and particularly, the North Coast 500.

Recognised by The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions as one of the fastest growing attractions in 2016 & 2017 growing by 33%, it was voted ‘Best Garden in the UK’ by the BBC Countryfile Magazine.

Though most visitors come to Inverewe for its spectacular 54-acre garden, the estate itself extends to 2,000 acres. Its many natural attractions including Scotland’s Big Five wildlife: otters, seals, golden eagles, red deer and red squirrel, can be seen along the shoreline, in the skies above and out on the hills. Inverewe participated in a national programme, led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Trees for Life, to re-establish the red squirrel at Inverewe and is proving to be an ideal habitat for them.

What’s on?

Fast becoming one of Scotland’s top visitor centres dedicated to the living and cultural heritage of a garden and wildlife rich estate in Wester Ross, Inverewe’s programme of activities this season focusses on a series of festivals to open the year and celebrate the garden and its plants.

The season opens with the ever-popular Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt around the garden, followed by our Erythronium Festival (9-15 April) where we centre our activities on the woodland garden. We are taking part in the Scottish Rhododendron Festival again this year (April and May) where our wonderful Rhododendrons feature as centre points to creative activities as diverse as Raku, Mindfulness, Botanical Illustration and woodland garden creation and plant use talks.


Credit:                                                                     Virginia Jarosz                                  Virginia Jarosz

Art and the inspiration of artists and scientists feature heavily this season, building on the success of the Sawyer Gallery exhibition space at the newly refurbished Inverewe House, curated by Adrian Hollister and artist@Inverewe community led by Lynn Bennet-Mackenzie.

Head Gardener, Kevin Ball explains his pride and joy amongst Inverewe Garden’s wealth of diverse plants and trees: “The whole environment at Inverewe has meaning and satisfaction. My favourite area is probably the extensive woodland areas, which allow plants to make the best of an undisturbed maritime growing environment. It’s hard to dispute the beauty and grace of ferns, the smallest class of the plant kingdom and its significant contribution to the diversity of Inverewe Garden. The approach to the UK’s most northerly grove of tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica), from the top of Bambooselem is an arresting sight and, though not unusual in themselves, the ‘Ostrich Fern’ (Matteuccia struthiopteris) look impressive grown here in a naturalised woodland glade of dappled shade and rich damp grass.

Kevin continues: “Along the Rhododendron Walk, bold groups of the stemless Tree Fern, Dicksonia lanata, grow alongside Woodwardia enigemmata (the Walking Fern), with its elegant arching fronds. Here Blechnum tabulare takes advantage of the banks below the craggy rock face to create a textured backdrop. At the Devil’s Elbow viewpoint, the unusual Blechnum penna-marina provides a beautiful dark foil for the white flowers of Ourisia crosybi. Alongside the ponds we have Osmunda regalis ‘Purpurascens’, with its bright copper-pink new fronds in springtime, complementing the handsome Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern), which turns to coppery red in autumn.

“While many well-known species flourish at Inverewe, for the more discerning fern lover, we also offer an array of choice specimens such as Phymatosorus diversifolius, (Kangaroo Fern) and Lophosoria quadripinnata, a very graceful fern with soft foliage. Also, the well-presented Walled Garden is where visitors can relate to what is grown there and demonstrate the range of flowers, fruit and vegetables that can be grown with some protection, at a latitude of 58⁰ north, the same as that of St. Petersburg and Labrador.”


Credit: Virginia Jarosz

So, whatever the season, a visit to the northwest highlands of Scotland to view the Inverewe Garden collection will always prove worthwhile. For more information, please visit:

Top Tips from Head Gardener Kevin Ball

  1. Take garden furniture and ornaments in for winter protection and repainting as required.
  2. Consider up lighting specimen plants in your garden to add an extra dimension of interest.
  3. Plan for your next year floral displays, consider what you might need to order early.
  4. Consider planting a small growing conifer such as the Korean fir as an alternative to a disposable Christmas tree to enjoy year on year.
  5. Check deciduous trees and shrubs over winter for general health and pruning requirements.
  6. Mulch bed and borders with ornamental pine bark in spring to reduce your summer weeding.