Mid-May to early June is the perfect time to visit the many stunning woodland gardens in Scotland. The moist neutral-to-acid soil in so many areas is perfect for plants of the Rhododendron family and for a wide range of ornamental woodland floor planting companions. We often think of large Rhododendrons with derision, following the wanton invasion of the purple-flowering Rhododendron ponticum, but there are so many other, more beautiful and vastly more well-behaved varieties. It is always good to see mature specimens in gardens planted several generations ago, to fully appreciated their stately form and the range of intense flower colours that grabbed the attention of the Victorian plant hunters.
A great place to visit to see this is the National Trust for Scotland’s Branklyn Gardens in Perth
http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Branklyn-Garden/. I spent this afternoon wandering around the meandering paths of this two acre garden today and these are just some of the beauties I came across:
Branklyn has vast range of Meconopsis (Himalayan poppies) in shades of blue, white and red and they look lovely when teamed with white or pale pink Paeonia.
As well as Rhododendron, there are many mature Acers in the gardens – here one of the Snakebark Maples is showing off a luminous skirt of Hakenochloa macra ‘Aureola’
Just one of the very informal paths through the garden, flanked by large Rhododendron and Magnolia shrubs – here with underplantings of Primula, Dicentra and Geranium
There are some real ‘specials’ in the Branklyn Gardens – these Cypripedium japonicum (Lady’s Slipper Orchids), which their pleated leaves and exotic blooms were new to me.
Walking round the garden I was particularly pleased to see how many of the large shrubs had been pruned to reveal their interesting network of branches. Crown-lifting and crown-thinning of shrubs allow light to filter down to the woodland floor, creating opportunities for more planting, and also allows ‘glimpses’ of the garden beyond. Very Japanese.
Most of all though, Branklyn Gardens in May is know for the abundance of colour – if you can, get over to Perth to see the show for yourselves before it fades for 2015!
For more photographs go to the Shades of Green Facebook page