The National Trust for Scotland tends and manages 38 important gardens and designed landscapes. We cultivate over 100,000 individual plants, both native and exotic.

We’re the largest garden owner in Scotland, caring for a wealth of horticultural landmarks. When you visit a Trust garden, you’ll enjoy all manner of incredible sights and smells, as well as discover the stories of some of our country’s green-fingered trailblazers.

With properties spread from Inverewe in the north to Broughton House & Garden in the south, and from Crarae in the west to House of Dun in the east, the Trust’s gardens make a fine case study in horticultural diversity.

Connecting people, plants and places

Our beautiful gardens and designed landscapes are powerful places where everyone can benefit from connecting with plants and nature. Our gardens are very much about people: the people who created them, those who work and volunteer in them, and everyone who experiences them.

We are privileged to care for these special environments, richly layered in heritage and stories, and our ambition is to make them accessible to many more people and keep them relevant, valued and resilient. In doing so, we will help to secure their longer-term future.

To help us, we have developed a Gardens Strategy with 12 underpinning objectives to which we will be accountable.


Find out more about how our work in gardens throughout the Trust will help to deliver our corporate goals.

Why our gardens matter

Vision and artistry

Many of the Trust’s gardens and landscapes are important for their artistry and design, both old and new. We care for great examples of pioneering vision and ambition, such as Osgood Mackenzie’s Inverewe. All our gardens – and many of yours – benefit from Scotland’s heritage of intrepid plant hunters, and we still grow some of their original introductions.

The walled garden at Inverewe
The walled garden at Inverewe

Heritage and conservation

We acquired a number of our gardens and designed landscapes by stepping in to rescue those that were at risk, like in the cases of Crarae Garden and Newhailes. Our aim is to safeguard the future of important gardens, in a way that protects their stories. We try to maintain and develop them based on their creator’s vision (where it’s known). We love to tell the stories of Scotland’s contribution to gardening at home and abroad, including ground-breaking horticulturalists like Osgood Mackenzie and the famous plant collectors.

Variety of dark green plants in Crarae Garden

Plant collections and conservation

We cultivate over 100,000 individual plants across our gardens. We’ve always had an important role to play in plant conservation, particularly in heritage varieties of fruit, vegetables and flowers. We work with other organisations, such as Plant Heritage and their National Collections, to ensure we all conserve key species and cultivars for future generations.

PLANTS project

Plant Listing At the National Trust for Scotland (PLANTS) is a Trust-wide garden inventory project. It will result in an accurate database that records plant collections in our 38 major gardens and designed landscapes. Three regionally based project teams, with central-based support, will inventory the plants within the gardens and work to update the data held in our plant records database, IrisBG. Accurate plant records are important as a garden management tool, for demonstrating compliance with various pieces of legislation and for providing a resource for garden research and interpretation. The project will run for three years, beginning in June 2022.

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Special collections

Our gardeners are always happy to point you in the direction of interesting plants. Some of the plants in our care are notable for their rarity, others for their beauty, and then there are the special collections.


There are 1,024 different species of this famous flowering plant. Many have interesting leaves and bark, but it’s in spring, when rhododendrons tend to bloom, that you can see these trees and shrubs burst into life. Some of the best Trust places to admire rhododendrons include Arduaine Garden, Brodick Castle Garden and Inverewe.

Pink rhododendrons at Crarae Gardens

Plant Heritage Collections

Plant Heritage Collections worked with Plant Heritage (formerly part of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens) to identify 15 specific National Plant Collections®. These include collections of Cassiope at Branklyn Garden, Olearia at Inverewe and Bergenia at Greenbank Garden.
We conserve these varieties, traits and genetic material – and the skills required to cultivate them – for future generations to enjoy.

A close-up of purple Bergenia in Greenbank Garden

Malleny National Rose Collection

One of our protected National Plant Collections® is the 19th-century Shrub Rose Collection at Malleny Garden – a mixture of hybrids and naturally occurring species. This impressive rose collection was developed in the 1960s by Mr and Mrs Gore-Browne Henderson (who then owned the garden), and it continues to thrive.

Yellow rose in flower at Malleny Garden

Scottish fruit

There are fruit collections and orchards at plenty of Trust places, including Kellie Castle, Falkland Palace and Pitmedden Garden. There’s even a whole garden dedicated to Scottish fruit (and vegetables) at Fyvie Castle. We’ve cultivated 52 types of Scottish apple as well as every known variety of Scottish blackcurrant and raspberry. At Threave Garden, you can find a collection of rarely cultivated pears that definitely do not feature in your local supermarket!

A close-up of fresh raspberries from the Kellie Castle garden

Champion trees

The Old Holly Tree at Castle Fraser has a girth of over 3 metres and is one of the oldest holly trees in Scotland. We’re not sure of its exact age but it features in a painting that helps us to date it as a mature tree before 1842. This is just one of the many TROBI (Tree Register of the British Isles) champion trees we have in our care across Scotland – we’ve got dozens at Brodick Castle Garden alone!

Holly tree at Castle Fraser

Did you know?

Trust gardens represent almost every style of Scottish garden throughout history, from the late medieval kitchen garden re-created at Culross Palace, to the Georgian expanses and layers of extravagance at Culzean Castle, and even a modern plantsman’s garden at Greenbank in Glasgow.

Two heritage gardeners at work, from the School of Heritage Gardening at Threave Garden.

Environmentally friendly gardening

Thanks to specialist surveys and wildlife audits, we know how important our gardens are to Scotland’s wildlife. It’s estimated that over 2,000 species of plants, insects, birds and mammals may live in any one Trust garden. A single mature oak tree can support over 400 different species of insects and arachnids living on it.

Our staff take great care with regard to environmental issues such as biodiversity, climate change, energy conservation, water management and the way we handle invasive non-native species. Our gardeners limit the use of pesticides in our gardens, and have almost entirely banned the use of peat-based composts.

Education and training

Trust gardens provide a great opportunity for us to help people of all ages become better gardeners. Training days for schools and young children, as well as guided walks led by our garden specialists, help us to share our knowledge and passion for horticulture. The Trust’s School of Heritage Gardening, founded in 1961 and based at Threave Garden, provides education and training for future generations of gardeners.

School of Heritage Gardening

The National Trust for Scotland supports GROW – an online resource that offers advice for anyone considering a career in horticulture, whether you’re interested in garden design, plant science, tree surgery or groundskeeping.

Did you know?

We employ over 70 full-time professional gardeners. The Trust’s gardening staff are respected and renowned around the world – they spend a lot of time tending to landscapes and plants, but they also pass on their skills and experience to future generations of gardeners (and others) through our training and education schemes.

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