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Home | News | Best Gardens to Visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
24th September 2021

Best Gardens to Visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway possesses some of the loveliest gardens in Scotland. A combination of our climate and the geology of South West Scotland provides a unique environment for successful growing compared with other gardens in Scotland, meaning more plants flourish and we can also grow exotic plants from around the world, outdoors!

At the last count there were more than 30 gardens to visit in Dumfries and Galloway and specialist nurseries to put your inspiration into practice by buying some of the plant species you have loved seeing while off exploring these lovely gardens in Dumfries and Galloway, many virtually on our doorstep at Knockinaam Lodge and all within easy driving distance. 

Knockinaam Lodge Top Six Dumfries and Galloway Gardens 

We couldn’t put our favourite gardens to visit in Dumfries and Galloway into any particular order, since they are all very unique and special in their own way. What we do know is that as far as gardens in Scotland are concerned, we are sure we have the best! So, here is our definitive ‘must see’ gardens in Dumfries and Galloway, whatever the time of year you choose to stay at Knockinaam Lodge (garden opening times permitting of course). We even have special Gardens in Dumfries and Galloway breaks that you can book with admission to some of the best.  

  1. One of our most famous gardens in Dumfries and Galloway is Logan Botanical Gardens. Not only is Logan Botanic Garden one of the most famous botanic gardens in Dumfries and Galloway it’s also one of the most exotic of gardens in Scotland.  Plants from South and Central America, Southern Africa and Australasia thrive in Logan Botanic Garden’s almost subtropical climate here in South West Scotland. Dating back to 1869, the same year as Knockinaam Lodge, it was gifted to the nation in 1969. Part of Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, Logan Botanic Garden will this year celebrate 50 years as part of this prestigious collection of gardens in Scotland.  Highlights are the Logan Conservatory, recently restored to Victorian style and houses tender exotic plants from South Africa. Logan Botanic Garden also has the first All Green Glasshouse in Britain. Find out more:
  1. Like Logan Botanical Gardens, Castle Kennedy is right on our doorstep, near Stranraer. One of the gardens in Dumfries and Galloway that is privately owned, Castle Kennedy has been the home to the Earls of Stair for 300 years. In this quintessential example of 19th Century formal gardens in Scotland – associated with renowned garden designer, Capability Brown – the Stair family are committed to restoring elements of Castle Kennedy Gardens to their original splendour while continuing the evolution of the gardens. One of the most romantic gardens in Dumfries and Galloway, Castle Kennedy Gardens are surrounded by water, situated on an isthmus between two natural lochs. Explore 75 acres of sculptured landscapes and avenues. Highlights are the two acre circular lily pond and the Walled Garden. Find out more: 
  1. Another must see garden nearby to Knockinaam Lodge is Glenwhan Gardens and Arboretum, Dunragit, near Stranraer. Glenwhan Gardens has been described as one of the most beautiful newly made gardens in Scotland with amazing sea views across to the Isle of Man, Luce Bay, and the Mull of Galloway. The 12 acres of beautiful gardens feature rhododendrons, magnolias, eucalyptus, orchids, hostas and lilies. Glenwhan grows many tender plants from around the Southern Hemisphere, due to the mild climate that gardens in Dumfries and Galloway enjoy. A privately owned and run garden, Glenwhan is a true labour of love, featuring two small lochs, meandering paths running along enchanting walks, including a 17 acre Wildflower Walk. Well placed seating and interesting sculptures add to the experience. Find out more:
  1. One of the outstanding National Trust gardens in Dumfries and Galloway is Threave Gardens. Surrounding a Victorian stately home, nearby to Castle Douglas, Threave has 64 acres of gardens to explore. Visit Threave House, and if you are feeling energetic, you can discover the miles of walking trails through the 1500 acres of Threave estate. As one of the gems in the National Trust gardens in Dumfries and Galloway, the ornamental gardens are close to the mansion. Over 200 varieties of daffodils, herbaceous beds, a heather garden and a wide variety of trees are tended to by the talented gardening team. Not only stunning gardens in Dumfries and Galloway for you to enjoy, Threave is The National Trust for Scotland’s School of Practical Gardening and takes post graduate students to train them in estate gardening. Find out more:
  1. One of our best castle gardens in Scotland has to be at Drumlanrigg Castle. Nearby to Thornhill, Drumlanrig Castle Gardens & Country Park has, we think, one of the best formal gardens in Scotland. The vast formal landscaped gardens will impress, as will the large parterres. There are also woodland gardens to explore and a Victorian greenhouse. A great place for the family, the woodland adventure playground is perfect to run off steam. The highlight, apart from the gardens, is the amazing view as you head up to Drumlanrigg, as the castle appears at the top of the driveway. Find out more:
  1. There are many famous gardens in Scotland, open to the public most of the year but also there are those that are hidden, privately owned and not for public entry, except on special occasions! The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a one day a year chance to marvel at the landscape gardens created by landscape architect Charles Jencks. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a 30 acre sculpture garden created at the home of Charles Jencks, Portrack House, near Dumfries. This usually private garden is inspired by science and mathematics, with sculptures and landscaping on themes of modern cosmology. Making the most of the best growing conditions for gardens in Dumfries and Galloway, at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation you will see an abundance of exotic plants that elegantly combines with natural features and the artificial symmetry and curves of the features that make up this magnificent garden. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation opens for only 5 hours on one day each May. Tickets are limited and are booked up fast so if you want to see this horticultural phenomenon, we suggest you book soon. It is also worth mentioning that money raised is donated to Maggie’s Centres, a cancer care charity named for Maggie Jencks, the late wife of Charles Jencks. Find out more: 

The Coastal Gardens of Knockinaam Lodge

We have described to you many of the wonderful gardens in Dumfries and Galloway that you can reach from Knockinaam Lodge, but we haven’t yet mentioned the gardens here. Of all the hotel gardens in Scotland, we are so lucky to benefit from this micro-climate and special landscape. We pride ourselves in tending to 30 acres of gardens and the rugged landscape of this secluded cove, flanked by cliffs on either side. This sheltered spot, looking out to the Irish sea is perfect for not only the many beautiful plants that adorn our gardens but also the fruit and vegetables that we grow in our kitchen garden. Gardens in Dumfries and Galloway are ideal for growing fresh fruit and vegetables and here at Knockinaam our kitchen garden supplies 70% of the fresh fruit and vegetables guests enjoy during the main growing season and preserves for the rest of the year. 

Not only do we provide our own beautiful gardens for guests to enjoy both by taking a stroll and in the delicious dished created by our talented chefs, we have teamed up with many of the top gardens in Dumfries and Galloway to offer spring and summer Breaks that include garden admissions. 

Why do Gardens in the South West of Scotland Flourish?

It’s down to the climate enjoyed by gardens in Dumfries and Galloway and the mostly free draining and  lime free soils. The fact that tucked in this southerly corner of Scotland, gardens here are more sheltered helps too, as does the fact that gardens in Dumfries and Galloway rarely suffer from extreme weather. The warming breezes of the Gulf Stream, wafting steadily over our 200 miles of coastline and across our gardens in Dumfries and Galloway provides a stable, mild micro-climate that allows a huge variety of plants to flourish, including many from the southern hemisphere.

You’ll find palm trees flourishing, quite at home in our warmer air. We get more hours of sunshine too, so it is no surprise that we have some of the best gardens in Scotland. Tropical or formal gardens; walled gardens or those with sea views; gardens with glorious settings in the grounds of castles, stately homes or historic houses – awaiting discovery and there to inspire. The gardens in Dumfries and Galloway are truly a mecca for garden lovers.  


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