Trust at work

The National Trust for Scotland is committed to conserving and promoting gardens and designed landscapes of all shapes and sizes.

This commitment even applies to gardens that we don’t own or manage, as we often have conservation agreements in place for special gardens belonging to other people.

The skills and expertise of our gardeners and volunteers are in highest demand at our best-known and most complex gardens. However, we also provide support ‘beyond the garden gates’ – whether that is looking after car parks and visitor centre grounds, or helping to grow young trees for planting out in the countryside.

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.

Rhododendron woodland at Crarae garden.
Rhododendron woodland at Crarae garden.

Plant conservation

We look after a collection of over 100,000 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. If you visit the Plant Collections page, you can read about some of our most special plants, and where to find them.

The vegetable garden at Kellie Castle walled garden.
The vegetable garden at Kellie Castle walled 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.

Red admiral butterfly.
A Red Admiral Butterfly.


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 vast 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.

Heritage gardeners working in the vegetable garden.
Heritage gardeners in training working at Threave garden.

Something for everyone

All our hard work would go to waste if we didn’t show our gardens to the world. We do everything we can to get people excited and interested in Scottish gardens and designed landscapes:

  • We run walks, talks, workshops and plant days.
  • We organise Teddy Bears’ Picnics for children.
  • We host cultural events such as art exhibitions and musical concerts.

Every year we welcome hundreds of thousands of people to our gardens, and we want this number to keep growing.