In bloom: Gardening festival marks 20 years with gin cocktails – and ‘rubbish’ plants

Floral pavilion at the Gardening Scotland festival

FROM cocktails at an outdoor kitchen to a ‘Secret Gin Garden’ featuring botanical-inspired beverages, this year’s Gardening Scotland event is throwing a party.

The national festival of flowers and outdoor living is celebrating its 20th birthday with an exhibition showcasing the boldest new ideas in horticulture.

The three-day event at the Royal Highland Centre Edinburgh is expected to attract thousands of garden-loving visitors over the next three days.

Read more: The 10 most interesting gardens to visit in Scotland

The show is packed with colour and scent from thousands of plants, while gardens created on the showground demonstrate the latest trends in garden design.

Among the highlights is the ‘Let Get This Party Started’ garden, which features a patio bar made of Italian glass and a fully-functioning outdoor kitchen.

Next door is the ‘Secret Gin Garden’, which is serving up special Gardening Scotland cocktails made with botanicals grown at the foot of the Pentland Hills.

Read more: Spring comes early at Scotland’s most exotic garden 

One of the first visitors to arrive on Friday morning was Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

She said: “It was a pleasure to visit this year’s festival and help Gardening Scotland mark its 20th anniversary with a celebration of nature and the great outdoors.

“Big or small, urban or rural, Scotland’s green spaces and gardens are good for our health and wellbeing and also support for our unique wildlife, biodiversity and the wider environment. I commend Gardening Scotland on continuing to showcase their many benefits.”

Read more: 10 gardening trends for summer 2019 

New this year is College Street – a line up of front gardens set against a backdrop of a typical street.

Each one has been created by horticulture and garden design students, and features an entirely different style of planting.

Visitors can also get some inspiration for Japanese-style greenery with an exhibition of tiny bonsai trees and masterclasses in how to make edible kokedamas – Japanese hanging moss balls filled with herbs.

Pallet Gardens – “tiny plots big on ideas” – will also be on display, made by schools from across Scotland.

Indoors in the Floral Pavilion, dozens of top nurseries are selling rare and unusual plants and Glendoick Nursery from Perthshire is launching a new range of rhododendrons bred in Scotland at the Show.

And it’s not only the scenery that is green – the event will exhibit recycled gardens made from rubbish, along with live bees and sculpture.

Visitors can quiz experts from the Beechgrove Garden for growing tips and advice in the Garden Theatre, where they will also be giving talks and gardening workshops.

Gardening tools and accessories will be on sale from outside exhibitors, and families can make the most of the outdoor activities on offer at the Big Back Garden.

The Garden4Life tells visitors how to turn their garden into an environment where bees, bugs and butterflies can flourish.

The event runs until Sunday June 2.

James Gilchrist, Chairman, Gardening Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating such an important milestone in the history of Gardening Scotland. At 20, the event is flourishing and it is a showcase for the brilliant nurseries, designers, horticultural colleges, community groups and gardening societies that we are fortunate to have here in Scotland.

“There’s now a wealth of research that shows that gardening can have a positive effect on people and the environment, so we’ve worked hard to ensure that Gardening Scotland has something for everyone, from green-fingered enthusiasts, through novice gardens, to people who are passionate about the environment and also for children.”