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Why a visit to Benmore Botanic Garden is a round-the-world trip!

Why a visit to Benmore Botanic Garden is a round-the-world trip!
Benmore Botanic Garden is set in a magnificent mountainside location, seven miles north of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll. Its 49 Hectares/120 acres are home to a world-famous collection of flowering trees and shrubs. With collections from North and South America, the Orient and the Himalaya, and geographic plantings from Bhutan, Chile, Japan and Tasmania, a visit to Benmore Garden really is a horticultural tour around the world. Here are 10 reasons why you should make a trip to Benmore.

1. A grand entrance! You’ll be greeted by a towering avenue of Giant Redwoods, which must be one of the grandest entrances to a botanic garden anywhere in the world. Planted over 150 years ago, these giants of the tree world are now over 50 metres high.

2. A riot of rhododendrons. Springtime visitors to Benmore will be met with a blaze of colour as one of the world's finest collections of rhododendrons puts on the most spectacular display. There are over 300 species of rhododendron in the grounds.

3. Fabulous ferns. The restored Victorian Fernery at Benmore is one of the most remarkable in the world thanks to both its size, 142m2, and its architectural and botanical value. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland describes the building as "extremely rare and unique in its design".

4. Go down under! Check out the Tasmanian Ridge above the old fernery. It was established around 1990, and contains Tasmanian cedar and Tasmanian southern beech.

5. Beautiful Bhutan. Scientists from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh made an extensive study of the flora of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. The Bhutanese Glade at Benmore contains plants grown from seeds collected on expedition in the 1980s. A second generation of Bhutanese trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials was added in 2001.

6. Chilean Rainforest Glade. Work began to create an area of Benmore exclusively for the display of Chilean plants species in 1995. Chile has nine native conifer species and all are represented at Benmore. You can also see the Chilean bamboo, the evergreen Desfontainea spinosa and numerous myrtles.

7. A formal affair. The Formal Garden was built in the late 1800s as a kitchen garden. It’s currently in the early stages of an extensive redesign. You’ll find a fantastic collection of ornamental conifer. Pucks Hut provides a welcome shelter from those west coast showers!

8. A garden for all seasons. Benmore is glorious throughout the seasons, from the vibrant blooms of rhododendrons and azaleas in early spring, striking Eucryphias of late summer and breathtaking displays of rich autumn fruit and foliage.

9. Wonderful walks. Benmore is a great place to explore by foot. Seven miles of trails throughout the garden lead to a dramatic viewpoint at 450 feet (140m) overlooking the surrounding mountains and Holy Loch. From March to October you can join a guided walk to discover the history, plants and seasonal highlights of the garden.

10. Wildlife galore. Benmore is a fantastic place to watch wildlife. Stroll down the avenue of giant Redwoods and look out for red squirrels. The woodlands are great for spotting small birds, such as bullfinches, great tits, blue tits and coal tits.

Benmore Botanic Garden is set within the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park and the Argyll Forest Park, on the A815 seven miles north of Dunoon. There are regular ferries for foot passengers and cars between Gourock and Dunoon and regular bus services from Dunoon to the garden.

There are lots of other natural attractions within striking distance of Benmore. Puck’s Glen is a magical woodland world with some excellent waking trails and the beauty of Loch Eck with its walking opportunities is close at hand.

Find out more about things to see and do in Dunoon and Cowal.
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