Day out: Greenbank Garden, Glasgow

Glean ideas for your own planting designs at this tranquil walled garden and substantial woodland, rich with vibrant autumnal colour.

Garden and country house

Less than six miles from Glasgow city centre and set in the grounds of a Grade A-listed Georgian House is Greenbank Garden, a tranquil oasis featuring a large walled garden and 6.5-hectare woodland.

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Greenbank was built in the 1760s for Robert Allason, a merchant in the tobacco and slave trades. Over the next two centuries, the house changed hands several times until it was bought in 1962 by William Blyth who, with his wife, transformed the walled garden into the ornamental gardens seen today. 

The estate was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland in 1976 on the grounds that the gardens be used for educational purposes. Designed to inspire urban gardeners, Greenbank features over 3,700 species of plants. 

Red and yellow leaves
Just six miles from Glasgow’s centre, Greenbank Garden’s 12 distinct ‘rooms’ offer planting inspiration all year round, including late-summer acer displays/Credit: Alamy

Late summer and autumn at Greenbank Garden

High hedges and shrubs divide the walled garden into a dozen rooms, giving each space its own character as the seasons change. The spring, summer and cottage gardens fade seamlessly into the autumn walk, while the foliage and winter gardens, with perfect topiary, give structure and interest all year round. In the garden’s centre sits a sundial dating to 1695.

With a national collection of bergenias to view, it’s well worth an autumnal visit to see the foliage colours of Bergenia ‘Wintermarchen’, B. cordifolia ‘Robusta’, B. ‘Sunningdale’ and B. purpurascens ‘Irish Crimson’.

Judiciously placed benches encourage visitors to pause and appreciate the tranquility of the gardens at this time of year, the late-summer colours complimented by the soothing sound of Foam Fountain by sculptor Charles d’Orville Pilkington Jackson. 

If an unknown plant catches your eye as you wander along the wide paths, you can identify it using the plant encyclopaedia in the tearoom.

Acers offer magnificent autumnal colour and there are spectacular specimens of contorted hazel and golden pine, all of which look stunning in September. Myriad child- and dog-friendly walks criss-cross the extensive woodland, through groves of tall oak, beech, sycamore, hawthorn, elder and lime.

Visiting Greenbank Garden

On-site parking and toilets (disabled). Open 10am–5pm Thurs–Mon, until 31 Oct. £8.50 per adult. nts.org.uk

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MT O’Donnell is a Scottish garden writer and blogger. thepinkwheelbarrow.com