Rhododendrons blossom early in Fife

Fri 5 Apr 19

This year’s Scottish Rhododendron Festival is geared up to be vibrant from day one, as many of these wonderful plants are already in full bloom because of the recent warmer temperatures.

The festival, which takes place from 1 April to 31 May, comprises more than 60 events across Scotland. This includes many activities and guided walks throughout Scotland as gardens, estates and woodlands open to showcase their displays.  

Returning for its fifth year, the annual festival is organised by national garden tourism group Discover Scottish Gardens and supported by VisitScotland. It aims to encourage local audiences and tourists to enjoy the wonders of Scottish gardens during the Rhododendron flowering period and highlight the diversity of collections that can be found in Scotland.  

Kirkland House and Garden in Saline has a vast collection of Rhododendrons and visitors will be able to enjoy the flowering plant, as well as Bluebells, Trillums and Hellebores, throughout the festival.

Rhododendrons are a large family of around 1,000 species, from small mountain shrubs to magnificent tree-like specimens. This year, many species have been flowering earlier than usual due to higher-than-average temperatures in most parts of the country.

In February, the Met Office reported an average temperature of 6°C in the UK, which is 2.4°C above the 1981-2010 long-term average. A southerly incursion from north Africa brought record-breaking temperatures and dry sunny weather throughout most parts of the country in the latter half of the month.  

David Knott, curator at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a world centre for Rhododendron studies, said: “The warmer temperatures we have been experiencing provide optimum conditions for these exotic shrubs, originally from the East, to thrive. The unusual weather and early flowering also highlight the impact of climate change on plants and flowering behaviour - a situation we will continue to monitor at the Botanics.” 

The festival was originally founded by the Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute and some of the most stunning Rhododendron displays can be seen in the west of Scotland at gardens including Achamore, Glenarn and Benmore Botanic Garden. Elsewhere, Inverewe, Gordon Castle and Attadale Gardens in the north provide beautiful displays, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scone Palace and Glendoick Gardens in central Scotland and Dawyck, Glenwhan and Logan in the south.

Caroline Warburton, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “It’s that special time of year when the Rhododendron plants begin to flower and I’m delighted to see Kirkland House and Garden getting involved and making the most of the opportunity.

“Events like the Scottish Rhododendron Festival draw in visitors and represent a major benefit to Fife. Tourism is more than a holiday experience it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.”

For more information and events listings, please visit: www.discoverscottishgardens.org

Image courtesy of Discover Scottish Gardens

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