Situated in Argyll, on the western seaboard of Scotland, The Garden is of great beauty, planted with a range of interesting trees and shrubs from all over the temperate world which has been likened to a Himalayan ravine and is a unique combination of wild highland glen and exotic garden centred round a spectacular natural gorge with waterfalls, in a cascading burn which flows into Loch Fyne. It is located in an area of extreme beauty, not on one of the major tourist routes but only 80 miles from Glasgow with all its communications and amenities, Crarae is of interest to the specialists and casual visitors alike.

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One hundred and eighty year old European Larch and Scots Pine and more recently planted conifers, hardwood trees and eucalyptus provide a background for over 400 rhododendron species, and hybrids as well as decorative shrubs whose autumn display is spectacular.

Crarae is also home of one of the three National Collections of the genus nothofagus (southern hemisphere beeches) under the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens.

Crarae is an exciting experience from the Neolithic chambered cairn in the lower garden, the spectacular views from the bridges which span the fast flowing burn, to the many vistas of loch, hill and sky, while the stunning and unique gorge is unmatched in any the other "Atlantic" Gardens of Scotland's West Coast, and The Visitor Centre provides light refreshments, sales and helpful information.
The Garden is a remarkable example of private interest, persistence and creativity of a single family turned into public benefit. It was begun early this century by Grace, Lady Campbell and developed by her son Sir George and grandson Sir Ilay, whose benefaction of the Garden to The Crarae Garden Charitable Trust in 1978 formally recognized the wide public access instituted some twenty years previously. While retaining the involvement of the Campbell family, the Garden is now run and administered independently by a body of dedicated Trustees drawn from throughout the United Kingdom, committed to its development and to assuring its long term
The Garden is supported locally and internationally by the Friends of Crarae, whose financial contributions of £3,000 in 1997 derived from subscriptions and fund raising events which they organise.
Crarae is featured in videos, books, magazine articles and garden guides and commands specialist attention from prestigious organizations such as the Royal Horticultural Society, the Scottish Rhododendron Society, the International Dendrology Society, and many worldwide horticultural societies and institutions. The support of the Glorious Gardens of Argyll & Bute Marketing Group and access to European Community support recognises Crarae’s potential and the need to develop.


At the time of Crarae’s transition to a trust, family resources were insufficient to establish an adequate endowment fund, although the founding family has continued to give direct and indirect annual support which has proved vital to the survival of the Garden.

However, annual income from all sources is insufficient to provide for day to day maintenance and there are no resources to cater for emergencies or to secure long term development.

Currently finances depend on donations (30%), investment income (10%) and visitor entries (50%) so the need to increase visitor numbers during the comparatively short Scottish season is recognised as essential. While funds are also urgently required for planting programmes, the upkeep of paths and bridges, the renewal of handrails and seats, and for upgrading the interpretative information within the Visitor Centre.

Crarae exists because of the interest and commitment of its founders and Trustees. The Trustees have taken considerable professional advice and as a result, a plan was produced redesigning the lower garden to create exotic and dramatic colour at the entrance, driveway, area surrounding the visitor centre and the bowl. This development was carefully constructed so that maximum interest and colour through the year at low maintenance cost, would attract potential visitors from the roadside, through the visitor centre, to the garden.

Through the Trusts successful application for funding from the Highlands & Islands Partnership Programme (EEC grants) and support funding from the private sector, the lower garden development is now almost completed. It became apparent through discussions with the Millennium Forest for Scotland Trust, that land to the north of the existing garden, The Forest Garden established by Sir George Campbell with 120 plots of different conifers planted to demonstrate their potential as commercial forestry crops and Barr Mor, an area of natural hillside partly clothed with native hardwoods, could greatly enhance public interest, so a new initiative to encourage the natural regeneration, introduce new plantings, and expand the broad-leaved woodland, while maintaining the unique collection of exotic trees within The Forest Garden was agreed.

The original benefactor of the garden is now in the process of donating the adjacent Forest Garden & Barr Mor to The Crarae Gardens Charitable Trust. In the interim, the Trustees at the time of their application for Lower Garden Funding, encompassed the Forest Garden & Barr Mor Project and now through The Highlands & Islands Partnership Programme and The Millennium Trust for Scotland have secured a funding package (100%) to open these areas for public access, possibly as early as 1998 (More detailed plans are available from the Trust Office)


The most urgent priority of 1998 for the Trustees is to create an adequate endowment fund to provide for the continuing long term stability of the Garden and they have now launched the APPEAL FUND.

For more information on the APPEAL FUND
or to make a donation, please Email us now.

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