Branklyn Garden is surely one of Scotland’s national treasures. Its eccentricities start before you’ve even got there. For although it’s in Perth – a wonderfully central and connected city, it’s quite a tricky little number to locate even for your top notch Sat Nav. (Basically head over the river as though you’re going to Scone Palace but turn left instead of right and then it’s just off to the left.)
You’ve got to work for it. Even when you’ve parked your car (for free) you still have another 70 metres or so to totter before you find this wonderful National Trust for Scotland garden. (Don’t worry if you’re a bit wobbly, it looks as though you could get closer if required).
And once through the gate you start to experience what Scotland might have felt like between the wars.
We were greeted as though they’d been waiting just for us, not in a corporate merchandising hub, but a little ticket office hut outside of which plant sales offer the facility of an honesty box.
Immediately the Arts and Crafts style of Branklyn House imbues you with the endeavor of Dorothy and John Renton who, in 1922, began developing this two acre plot in residential Perth into what it is today – the holder of four national plant collections. If that makes it sound a bit stuffy, please don’t be alarmed, its charm lies in its homeliness (in fact the wildlife corner is so characterful, it looks positively Pagan). Beyond what is, in anybody’s book, a stunningly created alpine rockery, little paths criss-cross over this long plot at differing levels taking you on a magical tour without the annoying mystery – everything is discreetly labelled. It’s so compact there is no long walk between areas of interest, it’s just one delight on top of another and it’s authenticity truly puts you back in time. You wouldn’t be surprised to hear Dorothy calling John in for dinner.
The Rentons knew many of the legendary pre-war plant hunters and devoted their lives to creating the best growing conditions for numerous ‘new to the UK’ plants. It was a labour of love which apparently prompted the The Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh to write that Branklyn Garden was “the finest two acres of private garden in the country.”
With its world famous alpine flowers; meconopsis and dog’s tooth violets May is the time to visit Branklyn but as we sat out on its terrace enjoying a scrap of warming April sunshine with a jolly decent coffee and shortbread, we felt we may also make the journey in June, July and perhaps every month until November.
Opening hours 10.00 – 17.00 (30 March – 31 October)
Entry – £6.50 £5.00 concession (free if you’re a NTS member)
Address: Dundee Road, Perth, PH2 7BB