This time of year brings out everyone’s green-fingered aspirations.
As the weather warms up and the shops are heaving with barbecues, plants and garden furniture, most of us long for our own lush and attractive outdoor retreat.
While for some the allure of the garden may only occur in high summer, for others it’s a year-long vocation.
And, for the next few months, people are being invited to take a tour of some of the country’s finest and most beautiful gardens.
Thanks to Scotland’s Gardens charity, hundreds of examples of stunning horticulture will be opening their gates, allowing people not only to admire the grounds but contribute to some much-loved causes.
In the past three years alone, Scotland’s Gardens has raised more than £1 million for charities by charging a small admission fee to view gardens that are, usually, largely private.
The charity’s main beneficiaries – the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, Perennial, the Gardeners’ Fund for the National Trust and Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres – receive 60 per cent of the takings, while the garden owners pick their own causes to benefit from the remainder.
So charities ranging from local hospices to international aid funds have all received a cut in Scotland’s Gardens 85-year history.
Maggie’s is one of the most recent beneficiaries and has a special link with the project.
Maggie Keswick Jencks, one of Maggie’s founders, lived with advanced cancer for two years.
As a landscape architect, connecting with the natural world was important to her and gardens are a now vital part of every Maggie’s Centre.
Each garden is created as a welcoming extension to the centre, offering visitors uplifting views and, in warmer weather, a place to relax too.
The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996, a year after Maggie died.
Later this year, during the charity’s 20th birthday, Maggie’s Forth Valley will open, becoming the 20th Maggie’s Centre in the UK.
So if you fancy exploring some stunning gardens while helping charities like Maggie’s, here’s a small taste of what’s on offer.
The Tors in Falkirk is an award-winning Victorian garden of just over an acre with a secret woodland garden to the side and a small orchard and wild flower area at the rear.
Unusual maple trees and rhododendrons are the main interest and there are also several wildlife ponds and water features .
Within 200 yards of Falkirk High Station, the Tors was featured on the Beechgrove Garden for its autumn colours in September 2010, but the best time to see it is the end of July or beginning of August.
Owner Dr Douglas Ramsay, who tends the Tors garden, said: “We have been involved in Scotland’s Gardens for around ten years.
“I very much enjoy showing the garden off and contributing to charity.
“The garden is quite unusual, particularly for Falkirk. We’ve had around 700 visitors over the years.
“It’s a garden of three parts, with the lawns and borders, then the orchard and the walled garden and lastly the secret garden with its lion’s head fountain.
“We also have four ponds, water features and a line of paperbark maple trees which are quite rare.”
Although Dr Ramsay tends the gardens himself, the spectacular tall trees are out of his reach – some are over 60 feet, while the one in front measures 70 feet.
The Tors is open on Sunday, July 31, and by arrangement until September 30 with Strathcaron Hospice receiving 40 per cent of the proceeds.
In a peaceful village setting, near Aberfoyle, Gartmore Village Gardens is a collection of half a dozen small and attractive areas – all be open this Sunday, June 5, from 2pm to 5pm.
Charities set to benefit include Crossroads Caring Scotland (West Stirling Branch) and Green Routes.
Gargunnock House grounds boast large and mature gardens, with woodland walks and masses of hybrid rhododendrons, azaleas and specimen trees.
The three-acre walled garden has also been fully restored with perennial borders, cut flower beds, and a kitchen garden with newly-planted orchard.
Just five miles west of Stirling on the A811, it will be open Monday to Friday until September 30.
Charities benefiting from the £4 admission charge include CHAS.