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Top 10 spots to see bluebells in Scotland

May 2nd 2023

Bluebells are appearing in woodlands and along the bottoms of hedgerows, turning the ground blue and filling the air with the unmistakable scent of our native Hyacinthoides non-scripta.

Bluebells are often a sign of old woodland and Scotland has some of the best in the UK, places where the flowers open beneath long-established trees on ground that has never been disturbed.

Bluebells will be in bloom throughout May and gardening network, Discover Scottish Gardens, is urging as many people as possible to get out and explore the magical spaces where these flowers grow. To help it has drawn up a list of the top 10 spots across the country to enjoy bluebells at their very best.

1. Ardmaddy Castle Gardens

The Ardmaddy estate spreads out around a horseshoe-shaped bay, 10 miles south of Oban and its native woodlands are carpeted with bluebells, primroses and wild garlic. Later in the season sea thrift grows near to the shore and wild orchids stud the grass.

2. Mount Stuart

Set around the famous Victorian gothic mansion on the island of Bute are 300 acres of woodland and cultivated gardens and in May Bluebells turn the ground beneath Mount Stuart’s thousands of mature trees into a startling pool of colour.

3. Glenwhan

Glenwhan occupies a hill-top location just seven miles from Stranraer, with spectacular views over Glen Luce and the Isle of Man. Alongside an exceptional collection of trees, rhododendrons and other spring-flowering shrubs is a 17-acre moorland walk, where the sheen of hundreds of thousands of bluebells contrast with the bright yellow broom amongst which they grow.

4. Kirklands Garden

The extensive gardens at Kirlands at Saline in Fife include herbaceous borders, a bog garden and 20 acres of self-regenerating woodland. The existing woodland garden is filled with bluebells, which grow alongside other spring flowers including fritillaries, trilliums and erythroniums. This year Kirklands is marking 30 years of opening for charity as part of Scotland's Gardens Scheme.

5. Geilston Gardens

At Geilston, the window in the potting shed, built into the walled garden, opens into a secret glade where the banks of a sparkling burn are carpeted with bluebells and other spring flowers. This small estate near Cardross is filled with charming features, as well as a huge vegetable garden where the first stalks from a large collection of rhubarbs are now ready for picking.

6. Teasses

Over the last 25 years the gardens of the Teasses estate in Fife have been spectacularly restored, with sweeping flower beds, a huge productive walled garden with heritage greenhouses and acres of old woodland where bluebells grow in abundance. The contrast between the carefully tended formal setting and the wilder areas are part of the estate’s appeal.

7. Cluny House

In spring the grounds of Cluny House in Perthshire are covered in all kinds of woodland flowers but it's the huge carpets of bluebells that fill the gardens with scent and colour from the middle of May until the end of the Month. Also in the garden there are swatches of Asiatic primulas, Trilliums from the woodlands of North America and blue Himalayan poppies.

8. Dawyck Botanic Garden

Dawyck covers 65-acres of Borders hillside, and it contains one of the finest tree collections in the country, as well as plants from Chile, China and Nepal. Underneath the trees and flowering shrubs are hundreds of thousands of bluebells, covering the woodland floor and running down the sides of the scenic Scrape burn.

9. Blair Castle

The white walls and fairy-tale turrets of Blair Castle are set amidst some of Perthshire’s more spectacular scenery and amongst the long grass and wildflowers that grow beneath its beautiful woodlands are acres upon acres of bluebells. Blair also has a huge walled garden filled with blossom-covered fruit trees.

10. Ellon Castle Gardens

The 18th century gardens surrounding Ellon Castle were once the finest in the country and they are currently undergoing a programme of restoration. In May bluebells add pools of bright colour amongst the woodland, which is also home to red squirrels and a collection of 500-year-old English yew trees.

Doronicum and bluebells
Ardmaddy Scotland 2012.07.10. P - (Labesus MLS visit 2012
Mount Stuart ©Colin McLean Photography-6376 (1)
Geilston Garden