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Scottish garden businesses are B(l)ooming this summer

September 16th 2015

Gardens and related businesses across Scotland have joined forces in a bid to attract more visitors, and capitalise on green tourism – an increasing trend in Scotland.

Already, around 130 organisations from all over the country, including gardens, nurseries and historic estates, have joined Discover Scottish Gardens, a national tourism group that launched in May with the aim to achieve a 10% uplift in visits to Scotland’s gardens by 2020.

Discover Scottish Gardens has created a website – discoverscottishgardens.org – where visitors can search gardens, nurseries and related businesses across Scotland, and plan their next visit. It aims to inspire visitors to discover new gardens across Scotland, and find out more about the country’s diverse climate and wealth of plant collections.

Commenting, Chrissie Reid at Portmore Gardens in the Scottish Borders said: “I am confident that Discover Scottish Gardens’ new website will inspire more people to visit Scottish gardens, as many of our visitors come through our website. From what we are seeing here at Portmore, garden visiting continues to be a popular getaway option that also now attracts a younger crowd. Through the Discover Scottish Gardens network, we will be able to reach these people and also attract more visitors from overseas, and I sincerely hope we will entice more people to experience the joy and satisfaction of gardening.”

Eric Wright from Willowhill Gardens in Fife said: “We are very happy about Discover Scottish Gardens’ initiative and think it’s a great idea to create a ‘one stop shop’ for information on Scotland’s gardens. It is a great concept and we are positive that it will have long-term benefits for Scotland’s garden tourism industry.”

As well as the website, Discover Scottish Gardens will oversee a marketing campaign to promote Scotland’s gardens within seasonal themes, allowing visitors to plan their trips around milestone events that happen at key times of the gardening year – such as harvests in autumn, the snowdrop festival in winter, or the first daffodil and bluebell displays in the spring.

Research from VisitScotland, which has provided £30,000 to launch Discover Scottish Gardens from its Growth Fund, shows that every year nearly 700,000 British holidaymakers visit a Scottish garden, with 35,000 of these indicating that a garden visit was the main reason for their holiday. This market is worth over £200 million to Scotland in terms of tourism spend, and the Scottish Borders garden businesses have been quick to take up the opportunity of growing this figure.

Discover Scottish Gardens aims to achieve three key ambitions:

  • To increase visitor numbers by around 10% by 2020;
  • To ensure that the Scottish Borders members reap the financial benefits of collectively marketing Scotland’s gardens, while keeping growth sustainable;
  • To drive tourism in the garden / natural sector by providing visitors with easy access to events and seasonal activities throughout Scotland.

The Groups’ membership includes gardens, plant nurseries, accommodation providers and tour operators, with more expected to come on board. Gardens within the estates of the National Trust for Scotland, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Royal Horticultural Society are included alongside a host of independent garden members.

Significant benefits are promised to member businesses as well as the consumer of garden tourism, says Catherine Erskine, Chair of Discover Scottish Gardens: “Scotland is lucky to have such a diverse garden offering, and one which many visitors already enjoy all year round. By collaborating, we aim to use our collective might to grow the sector, having a positive knock-on effect on businesses and communities all over Scotland.”