Gardens of Scotland

Gardens of Scotland

Tour Itinerary

Tour highlights:
• 3 days Masterclass in spring plants and gardening
• Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, one of the best botanical gardens
• Benmore, 120 acre garden surrounded by dramatic scenery
• Branklyn, one of the finest spring gardens and high in Jimi’s list of favourites
• Glenarn, journey to Bhutan and the Himalaya
• Drummond – 14th century castle with 12 acre’s exquisite formal garden
• Glendoick has one of the largest collections of rhododendrons in the world

Day one – Tuesday 1st May

Our tour begins with a lunchtime flight from Dublin to Edinburgh. On arrival, we will be met by our coach and driven a short distance to our first garden, Edinburgh Botanical gardens. Just a stone’s throw from the city centre, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) will capture your imagination. In accordance with its emphasis on research and conservation, the garden is home to the largest collection of wild-origin Chinese plants outside China. The Scottish Heath Garden, the world-famous Rock Garden, and the stunning 165m-long Herbaceous Border are just some of the attractions that delight the knowledgeable gardener to the curious sightseer. We will visit their glasshouses where we will explore ten distinct climatic zones holding around one percent of all known flowering plants, cycads and ferns.
We will then take our coach to the historic city of Sterling, which will be our base for the next couple of days. Once we are settled into our hotels, we would love you to join us for our group dinner.
Day 2 – Wednesday 2nd May

We will meet at our coach for 8.30 where he will take us on a beautiful scenic drive to our first garden of the day, Bemore Botanical Gardens. For true drama, Benmore is set in a stunning mountainside location on the Cowal Peninsula. This is a magnificent mountainside garden, surrounded by dramatic scenery, at the gateway of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. It’s 120 acres are home to a world-famous collection of plants from the Asia and the Himalaya to North and South America, including over 300 species of rhododendrons. We enter the gardens through an avenue of 150 year old giant redwoods, arguably one of the finest entrances to any botanic garden. Other highlights include the beautiful Victorian Fernery, the Garden’s meticulously restored Golden Gates and the Bhutanese and Chilean pavilions. We will delight in the resplendent displays of rhododendrons blooms and when we require more earthly sustenance we can sample some delicious home baking in the Benmore café, or browse in the Garden Shop. In the afternoon we will move on to our second garden of the day Glenarn. This sheltered woodland garden overlooking the Gareloch with a Himalayan atmosphere, is famous for its collection of rare and tender rhododendrons.
Glenarn is a private garden largely created by the Gibson family in the 1920s and 30s. The garden lies in a protected hollow with a steeply sloping glen running its length and providing shelter for large-leafed and tender rhododendrons. Early in the spring, tall Asiatic magnolias create dramatic interest while other plants such as crinodendrons, euchryphias and acers give colour at different times. A large rock garden built around the old quarry and natural rock outcrop provides a variety of habitats for smaller plants such as meconopsis, primulas, dwarf rhododendrons and many bulbs in season. There are usually plants for sale here, including propagated rhododendrons.

Day 3 – Thurs 3rd May, 2018

Our day starts with a visit to Branklyn Gardens, often described as one of the finest two acres of private garden in Scotland. The garden contains an extensive collection of many rare and unusual plants – among the most breath-taking are the Himalayan poppies, meconopsis. Coveted by gardeners alike, these should be at their showiest for our visit.
The garden is predominantly a collection of plants from China, Tibet, Bhutan and the Himalayas. There is an impressive collection of original plants collected by famous plant collecting team Ludlow and Sheriff and it holds many National Collections including cassiope, mylnefield lilies and meconopsis. The garden is managed by the National Trust for Scotland and demonstrates what can be achieved in a relatively small garden in an urban setting. Leaving Branklyn we travel a short distance to our next garden and nursery Glendoick.
Often heralded as the mecca for any self-respecting rhododendron lover, Glendoick is located in Perthshire has one of the finest collections of rhododendrons and azaleas, primula, meconopsis, kalmia and sorbus in one garden. We will visit the fascinating peat garden, nursery and hybrid trial garden. Many of the rhododendron and azalea species and hybrids you will see have been introduced from the wild or bred by the Cox family. Glendoick also has a huge range of plants for sales from many plant-hunting expeditions from as far afield as Chile, Tasmania and Tibet. This is a shopping opportunity not to be missed.
Last but certainly not leased be prepared to be ‘wowed’ by our final garden! Drummond Castle Gardens is probably Scotland’s best example of a formal gardens and is certainly among the finest in Europe.
A mile of beech-lined avenue leads to a formidable ridge-top tower house. Enter through the woven iron portcullis and suddenly revealed is a magnificent Italianate parterre. First laid out in the early 17th century and redesigned and terraced in the 19th century, the gardens you see today were replanted in the 1950s, preserving features such as the ancient yew hedges and the copper beech trees planted by Queen Victoria, to commemorate her visit in 1842.
The castle is not open to the public but the gardens offer marvelous views of the castle and surrounding countryside.
Finally at the end of the day our coach will collect us and ferry us to the airport where we will take our flight home.

Booking Information

Tour Price is: €400 per person

Tour price includes:
• Comfortable coach transport.
• Admission to all gardens.
• Friendly and knowledgeable professional tour coordinator.
• Botanical expertise of Jimi Blake
• Evening Meal on the 1st May

Tour price excludes:
• Airfare and Accommodation – You will book your own flights and accommodation but only after we send you an email confirming that our reservation minimum has been met and the tour will proceed.
• Travel insurance. (See below)
• Lunches. Budget £10 per lunch minimum.
• Evening meal on the 2nd and 3rd May

Payment schedule:
• A non-refundable deposit of €200 is due when you book your tour.
• Final payment, in full, is due by Jan 31th, 2018.


Travel insurance is required in case you have health emergencies or other unforeseen issues arise. We recommend AA Travel Insurance and you can get a quote online at Click here for Travel Insurance. There are many providers so you may identify other travel insurance providers on your own. Before departure, you will be required to provide evidence that you have obtained travel insurance.


It’s easy to book your garden tour, just let us know by return email and we will hold your place. Later we will ask you to fill out our online booking form and at that stage you can pay the deposit by paypal or direct debit.
Your trip reservation will be confirmed by email upon receipt of the completed Reservation Form and trip deposit/full payment. Payment in full must be received by Jan 31th 2018.

For questions or help completing your reservation, please contact Orlaith Murphy.
Phone: 087 6453042 or Email:

As a small tour company Jimi Blake Tours offers tailored tours for keen gardeners and plant enthusiasts. Each tour is guaranteed to proceed as soon as the minimum of 20 reservations has been met. In the event that our reservation minimum is not met by Jan 31th 2018, we reserves the right to cancel the tour. Deposits/payments will be refunded in full if the tour is cancelled. Itinerary may change should the need arise.

Please DO NOT make your airline reservations until we have guaranteed (by email) that the tour will proceed.

If you would like to join us, then simply contact Orlaith by email or by phone on 087 645 3042

To avoid disappointment, please book early.

On booking, we will supply you with information on suggested accommodation

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