From 1922 when Mr and Mrs Renton built their Arts and Crafts property in the shelter of Kinnoull Hill overlooking Perth, they had in mind to create a compact garden that would embrace their mutual love of Himalayan plants.

It is hard to imagine the gravity of the job this entailed as they turned an established orchard on a steep south-westerly slope into the delightful and diverse garden we can enjoy today. Their strong contacts with the famous plant collectors of the day – Ludlow and Sherriff, Kingdon-Ward, Farrer and Cox – allowed them to obtain valuable seed and plant material from Tibet, Bhutan and China. Many of the resulting trees, shrubs and most notably rhododendrons would provide the backbone of the garden that is still very much in evidence today.

Mrs Renton’s love of alpine plants necessitated the construction of several rock gardens and with each of them great care was taken to provide a near perfect aspect and habitat for these exacting plants. A close friend and neighbour, Mr James Aitken, a great authority on rock garden design, helped with this essential work. The only non-endemic stone utilised was a design incorporating weathered Westmorland limestone imported from the north-west of England. This rock garden provides a unique habitat for exciting plants introduced from alpine landscapes from all over the world.

Branklyn is a garden for all seasons, and the Rentons created a planting scheme to embrace each of the seasons.

As visitors arrive through the entrance gate they maybe enchanted with the clever planting of hydrangeas, viburnum as well as the sumptuous scents of azaleas, each a product of Dorothy Renton’s artful design. Continuing on into the body of the garden under and 100 year-old globose Scots pine tree, Pinus sylvestris ‘Globosa’, a gently sloping lawn may lead visitors between a short avenue of 100-year-old Japanese maples and so gnarled are the stems as to attract immediate attention. This path, like many takes you on a tour from one ‘room’ to another with surprises around every corner.

Perhaps the highlight in today’s Branklyn Garden experience revolves around one of its National Collections, in this case Meconopsis, popularly known as Himalayan blue poppies, although the species comprise plants of various colours from bright red through yellow and white, far away the most exciting are blue! Mrs Renton seemed to attain the knack of growing these plants form their earliest introduction by Kingdon Ward in 1922 from Tibet. Further excitement followed when another species Meconopsis grandis was introduced by Ludlow and Sherriff from Bhutan in 1933. Several hybrids have arisen at Branklyn including MM.’Dorothy Renton’ and ‘Branklyn’ and serve as a legacy to the Rentons.

In addition, a very special species of dandelion grows here: the Taraxacum pankhurstianum. It’s only found naturally on St Kilda, so its conservation is hugely important.

Journalist Robin Lane Fox in his piece for the Financial Times, named Branklyn ‘heaven on Perth’, saying that ‘The garden goes straight into my top five in Britain’.

Read the Financial Times article

Branklyn Garden was handed over to the National Trust for Scotland in 1966.