Linn Gardens, Cove nr Helensburgh

Today I went to what might be one of the best gardens on Scotland if not Britain. That is a bold statement I know but this place is magical. A families love affair which at times has seen tragedy but this is a place has been built on one mans passion and fascination of plants around the world.

Linn Botanical Gardens is on the coast in Cove on the Rosneath peninsula near Helensburgh in Argyll. It overlooks the avowal peninsula near the entrance of Loch Goin and the Isle of Arran. It is built on a narrow valley with the Meikle running through a gorge and has waterfalls in places. This botanical garden was established in it’s current form in 1971 (the year of my birth) by Dr Jim Taggart a botanist and plant collector who used to be a lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin University. Jims som Jamie took over the day to day running of the garden in 1997.

The site has a Victorian villa built on the most elevated part of the garden. This was built by William Martin in 1860 on a plot leased from the Duke of Argyll the great grandfather of Hugh Grant.

Unfortunately on 2013 Jamie went missing in North Vietnam during a visit to search for plants. His body was found 2 years later.

The garden is thought to have 4000 species and the collection has been labelled a collection of national importance. There are plants from all over the world including New Zealand and Peru. There is approximately 200 species of Rhododendrons. It also has many varieties of Azaleas, Bamboo and Acers.

If you read some of the Trip Advisor reviews you will probably see the phrases unloved, derelict and overgrown but in my eyes these people are wrong. Firstly it is not unloved this garden has been built over the past 47 years with love, a passion and a determination. Secondly it is shabby and derelict in places but this adds to the charm. There is a place for formal gardens but these can be sometimes sterile and in places boring. This garden is the complete opposite. It has been planted in a way that makes the garden look natural like it had been there for centuries. When Jim took over the property there was only formal planting around the villa on the elevated section and grass towards the road. Jim made terraces, re aligned the paths and emptied vast amounts of rubbish from the burn. He then planted tender shrubs in the valley and these thrived because of the temperate climate that the Gulf Stream gives the west coast of Scotland.

The Villa and other property are in a derelict state but as I said this adds to the mystique. The place was deserted and has a feel of an enchanted garden. Indeed when I walked around it I imagined that it was a set from a a fantasy film and there was goblins, elves and sprites running amongst the plants. I also thought it would bee an ideal setting for a Dr Who episode and half expected a Weeping Angel, covered on moss be round a corner. You could lose yourself in this garden not physically but this place will whisk you off mentally somewhere else. Indeed apart from the sound of running water and birdsong the only other thing that could be heard was the thwack of an axe somewhere in the garden. In my head I thought this could have been a mad axeman stalking this garden it is that kind of place.

This is a wonderful garden. It is a garden built with love. A garden built with passion. A garden of national importance. A garden of blatant British eccentricity and it should remain like this for years to come. Sure the buildings could do with a makeover but this can wait in my opinion.

Admission is £5’donation and can be posted through a slot in the admission booth.

Now for some photo’s. There was that much to see I have not got many of the names of the plants but that is not important.


Little Cottage at bottom of the hill


Rhododendrons and Azaleas

Villa and other bits and pieces

Eerie Child’s tractor

Tired seat (how many people have sat on here?)

Deserted nursery

Thanks for reading.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    I remember those greenhouses. It would be worth cleaning and restoring if necessary. They are so much more fun to work in than modern greenhouses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Janet Taggart says:

    It was Elanor s tractor Jim’s great grandaughter

    Liked by 1 person

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