Branklyn Garden
Branklyn Garden
One of the National Trust for Scotland's newer properties, Branklyn Gardens is a two acres enclave of colour on the outskirts of Perth, on the lower slopes of Kinnoull Hill. With rare plants, rhododendrons, alpines, herbaceous and peat-gardens plants, Branklyn packs a remarkable display of colour and horticultural interest into a small site. Especially interesting for botanists and gardeners.
History
There are over 3500 kinds of plants packed into Branklyn Garden; a amazing statistic when you consider the size of the site. The garden was begun in 1922 by Dorothy and John Renton, who bought an orchard here, and built a small house in Arts and Crafts style, with a garden below it. The Renton's divided their labour; John designed the garden layout, while Dorothy was in charge of plants. One interesting concept lay behind the garden design; the garden was meant to develop to suit the plants, rather than the plants being chosen to suit the garden plan.

The Rentons were aquainted with many of the most active worldwide plant collectors, and thus gained access to rare seeds and plant varieties from places as far afield as Tibet and China. These they trialed at Branklyn, trying to recreate as best they could the original growing conditions in the plant's native region. The result gained the Rentons widespread praise among gardeners, and the Regus Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh famously praised Branklyn as 'The finest two-acre private garden in the country'. The garden is no longer private, as it passed to the National Trust for Scotland after John Renton died in 1967.

Branklyn holds the National Collections of Cassiope and Mylnefield lilies. Seasonal highlights include primulas, rhodedendrons, and alpine plants in May, and red Acers in Autumn.

Visiting
Technically, the garden is on the A85 Perth/Dundee road., but this is where it gets trick. There is no on road parking, and extremely limited parking in front of the garden. If you arrive by car the brown tourist signs will direct you up a series of narrow urban streets, and you simply have to keep your eye open for parking places along the street. We parked well away from the garden entrance just to make sure we could actually find a parking spot, then walked 200 yards to the garden.

Please don't let my warning about parking put you off - our family loved Branklyn. We came on a wet, cold day in April, when our first thought was to buy a cup of hot coffee from the small NTS shop at the entrance. Once fortified with warm liquid, however, we ventured into the gardens. And what a treat it was! I've never seen so much colour and so much variety in such a small garden space. The site is slightly sloped, with earthen paths leading across the slope, and winding up and down with the aide of wide steps. There are several water features linking the different garden levels, with a quiet pool at the lower end of the garden, and a small stream trickling over a series of rock waterfalls. It is hard to describe a garden, and I'm not a horticulturalist. If you have a green thumb, then the list of species at Branklyn will impress you, but what impressed me was simply the rich array of plants, each adding a splash of different colour, a different height and type of texture to the tapestry of the garden.

Branklyn is an amazing garden, and a delight to visit. Now, about that parking ...

Himilayan Meconopsis
Himilayan Meconopsis
Colour and texture don't require flowers!
Colour and texture don't require flowers!