The Scottish Plant Hunters Garden celebrates 250 years of adventure, exploration and discovery, and displays a myriad of plants brought to Britain by ground breaking botanists. Set among mature woodland above the River Tummel in Pitlochry, the garden is a riot of the exotic, with colours and scents that evoke far-away places.
Walking into the garden, you’ll come across monkey puzzle trees – a South American oddity that provoked great interest when discovered and brought to Britain by Archibald Menzies in 1795. Then, you’ll travel past white daisies from New Zealand, before you come to a section devoted to botanist Robert Fortune’s findings.
Stunning large yellow-flowered Japanese tree peonies thrive here, though not the tea plant that Fortune infamously procured. In 1848, the explorer was tasked by the Governor of India to get a plant specimen out of its indigenous China after a trade dispute. Britain’s tearooms were in peril until Fortune, disguised as a Chinese man, sneaked across the border, taking the tea plant to India, thus securing the Empire’s supply.
Nearby, the David Douglas Pavilion highlights how the Scottish Plant Hunters Garden follows in the explorers’ footsteps with discoveries around the world. Perthshire-born David Douglas, who first recorded and introduced a host of pines to Britain, including the Douglas fir (named after him), would be proud.
1 Garry bridge
On a short walk to the north of Pitlochry, by Killiecrankie, you can see some spectacular specimens of these pines.
Start from the Garry Bridge car park, where there is an exhilarating view down the pine-clad Pass of Killiecrankie.
The signed walk leads through the National Trust for Scotland Linn of Tummel, originally part of Bonskeid Estate. The large Douglas firs and Sitka spruce date from around 1900, part of a great pine planting tradition in Perthshire, sparked by the Scottish Plant Hunters. Follow steps down, as the path swings left and then turn right to walk by the River Garry, where you may see otters if you’re lucky.
2 Wild rapids
The walkway leads past fields. At the end of these, and just before a set of steps, is a magnificent pair of Sitka spruce.
Take a diversion to a lookout on the Linn of Tummel rapids. The path leads upstream before swinging right for the return leg, where you can admire some huge Douglas firs.
How to Get There
Garry Bridge car park is 2½ miles north of Pitlochry on the B3019. Buses running by Garry Bridge from Pitlochry include Elizabeth Yule (01796 472290) and Broons
Buses (01882 632331).
Find Out More
The Scottish Plant Hunters Garden
Port na Craig, Pitlochry
Garden open daily (April 1-Nov 1), 10am-5pm (last admission 4.30pm). Adults £3, family ticket £7, OAPs £2.50.
port NA craig inn and restaurant
Port na Craig, Pitlochry
Situated by an ancient crossing on the River Tummel, this establishment offers not just fine views, but delicious cuisine, too.
ellangowan bed & breakfast
24 Lower Oakfied, Pitlochry
Enjoy traditional Highland hospitality in this charming Victorian villa, set in a quiet area with a secluded garden.