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Glasgow to 3 gardens in a day - with a link to another 40 minutes away

1 day
From Glasgow west to Cardross, Rhu and Cove to visit 3 gardens close to Helensburgh and the Clyde coast.
Glasgow west to Geilston
1. Glasgow west to Geilston
Head west out of Glasgow on the M8, over the Erskine Bridge and from the A82 turn left at Dumbarton on to the A814, rather than continue to Loch Lomond on the Fort William road.

 Geilston Garden, Cardross
2. Geilston Garden, Cardross
Once through Dumbarton, there are good views across the Clyde estuaryand when you reach the village of Cardross, continue through till, just outside the 30 mph limit, you see signs to Geilston Garden. Turn right up the driveway and park on the left, entering via the visitor reception. If you are a NTS (or NT) member, naturally your entry is free but others may make their contributions here. Start by walking across the open parkland , past the house and into the walled garden, with its tall Wellingtonia. Border beds contain many fine azaleas, shrubs and bulbs while the huge herbaceous border is full of summer colour.

Below are the recently restored glasshouses and the potting shed - pass through the door in the wall into another woodland world, with a fast flowing burn and a variety of woodland plants under the tall canopy.

Finally don't miss the huge kitchen garden, packed with vegetables, fruit and flowers. There is likely to be produce for sale once the season is in full swing.

Just a short distance along the main road is Ardarden Garden Centre and Tearoom, a good point for lunch or coffee.
Geilston to Glenarn in Rhu
3. Geilston to Glenarn in Rhu
Rhu is 2 miles north of Helensburgh. At Rhu Marina follow the yellow 'Garden Open' sign right up Pier Road. After 300 yards turn right again into Glenarn Road and the garden is accessed via the far left gateway. Please park outside unless you have visitors with limited mobility when parking is in front of the house.

As you walk through the gates, take a garden leaflet. You are now in another world, away from suburban Rhu and into the Himalayas. Make your way up the glen, where rare rhododendrons bloom from March to June, past the pond which is just being replanted, and climb slowly up past huge trunks of polished or peeling bark, the burn trickling below, past primulas and rodgersias. SAuddenly you reach a flat area - known as Granny's Hens - but no hens today!.

Cutting across the garden brings you to the greenhouse and the vegetable garden, with the bee hives tucked to one side. Another diagonal path leads to the recently fenced rock garden, built in the late 1920s out of the original stone quarry, many varied habitats for a wide range of smaller plants.
From Rhu to Linn Botanic Garden in Cove
4. From Rhu to Linn Botanic Garden in Cove

It takes less than 30 minutes to Cove, driving north past Faslane, taking the third exit at the base roundabout then following signs to Coulport. The lochside road winds past amazing Victorian villas and castles including Knockderry House Hotel which is a useful stop for lunch or tea.

There is a parking area on the shore side, just opposite the entrance to the Linn Botanic Garden.

Go in past the entrance pavillion, into an area of ponds and fountains with lush planting on all sides. From here you can follow way-marked trails. The steep path up the glen is full of interest with rare plants, bulbs and trees on all sides.
At the top there is a formal pond and bamboozalem, leading to the working garden area of greenhouses and propagation beds to the rear of the house. A New Zealand garden was created on the site of the lawn and paths snake away in several directions, into woodland or down the cliff where ingenious planting is much in evidence.

There are plants for sale in the nursery area.
A further expedition to Ardkinglas
5. A further expedition to Ardkinglas
To extend this expedition further north, to visit the woodland garden at Ardkinglas only takes a further 40 minutes.
Retrace the road back to the roundabout above the naval base where a left turn takes you to Loch Long and Arrochar on an old fashioned swithback road, where you join the A83. You will see the Cobbler, a rocky topped mountain and the Arrochar Alps - if conditions allow it. Continue up the 'Rest and be Thankful' Pass and on down Glen Crerar until just before Loch Fyne, there is a sign to Ardkinglas Woodland Garden.
Enjoy this beautiful woodland with amazing champion trees.
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