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Arduaine Gardens


Arduaine Gardens are situated on a headland overlooking the Asknish Bay and are influenced by the Gulf Stream. The gardens contain a nationally renowned collection of rhododendrons, many of them tender, as well as a host of other shrubs and woodland and water-loving perennials.

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Type of Site

Established within a sheltering structure planted in the early 1900s, this coastal garden, a plantsman's garden, hosts one of the finest Rhododendron collections in the world as well as woodland and water garden species.

Location and Setting

Arduaine Gardens are situated on the A816 about 18 miles (29km) south of Oban and 10 miles (16km) north of Kilmartin. The Arduaine headland juts out into Loch Melfort and its backbone forms a protective arm curving around the garden. The gardens stand on a south-facing slope, overlooking Asknish Bay. A series of terraces has collected layers of acid loam soil covering the granite rock, and two springs provide clear water. The climate is affected by the Gulf Stream and the annual rainfall averages 60". The garden is protected from most winds by the landform and the woodland shelterbelts. There are filtered vistas out through the shelterbelts, providing tremendous views of the islands to the south. From a distance, the gardens are enclosed within the block of woodland close to the foreshore.

On the 1st edition OS of c.1868, the previous house is shown by the name of Asknish and there is no sign of any garden or wood at that date. Arduaine Gardens were originally created as the woodland gardens for Arduaine House although sited some distance away from it. The gardens are about 24 acres (9.7ha) in extent and are enclosed by shelterbelts.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Loch Melfort Hotel, formerly Arduaine House, is a 19th century two-storey building with gabled dormers and was built by James Arthur Campbell between 1897 and 1905. It was converted into an hotel in 1964. Arduaine Cottage was built in the gardens c.1903 and renovated in 1971-72.

Woodland Garden

The woodland garden is sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds by a plantation of European larch together with a sprinkling of other conifers and hardwoods. The shelterbelt suffered considerable damage during the severe gale in 1968 and many of the taller trees fell down. Under the woodland canopy, in carefully designed glades, an amazing selection of tender rhododendrons grow including many R. madenii series, the rare R. dalhousiae, R. zeylanicum, R. nuttallii and many others. A wide range of the large-leaved rhododendrons also grow here, such as R. sinogrande, R. protistum, R. falconeri, as well as the tall arboreum. Some of the larger specimens, especially an enormous R. giganteum which was the first to flower in the western hemisphere, and a huge auriculatum, were planted by J.A. Campbell from seeds sent directly to him from Western China. Many of the other plants in the garden must have resulted from J. Campbell's participation in seed collecting expeditions. Trees include several eucalyptus species and a Berberidopsis corallina.

The Gardens

The path to the gardens crosses a small field from the back of the hotel and enters it on the east side where it is sheltered by a huge, and particularly large leaved Grisellinia littoralis. The path continues between two herbaceous borders which divide the garden into two areas.

The lower garden is broken up by a series of attractive spring-fed ponds connected by meandering channels as well as a stretch of canal. The margins are planted up with water-loving plants such as a wide range of Primulas, Hostas, all sorts of ferns and the large-leaved Gunnera manicata. A specialist collection of shrubs and small trees, such as Cornus kousa chinensis, a large Magnolia obovata and many other Magnolia species have been planted on the surrounding higher ground. Some of the larger trees include a magnificent Davidia involucrata (the pocket handkerchief tree) and a marvellous Magnolia campbellii, planted by the Campbells, and both of which tower over the garden. Below the dividing path, the old tennis court has been grassed over and planted up with island beds filled with smaller shrubs.

A large clump of unusual plants, including Drimys lanceloata and the Japanese Trochodendron aralioides, lies at the west end of the long double border. The Trochodendrons and Gevuina avellana are massive at Arduaine as is the Nothofagus antarctica. The path winds through the wood to the upper garden passing in front of the cottage where the old vegetable garden has been laid to grass and planted with a selection of spring bulbs. Behind the cottage, the ground rises steeply and the path continues to the east; from it there are numerous views across the lower gardens and to the south over Asknish Bay and south-west down the Sound of Jura. Passing above the cliff face, the path returns to the lower levels by a series of zigzags, winding between old established shrubs and many new plantings. Several large Eucryphia are here, including E. glutinosa, E. moorei, E. lucida and E. x nymanensis.

Arduaine is a plantsman's garden, laid out with a gifted understanding of colour and contrasting textures, and it provides a wide variety of experiences.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

The garden is open daily from 9.30 to sunset.


For directions see:


The National Trust for Scotland


The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Reason for Inclusion

One of Scotland's finest gardens containing one of the best collections of Rhododendrons in the world. Edmund and Harry Wright rescued Arduaine Garden from neglect in 1971.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Early 1900s with restoration and improvements since 1971.

Site History

The garden was created in the early 1900s; it became neglected after World War II and was rescued by Edmund & Harry Wright in 1971, since which time they have amassed one of the finest collections of rhododendrons in Scotland.

Arduaine estate was bought by James Arthur Campbell, a tea planter, in 1897/8. The Campbells built the house and planted larch for shelter around the garden, which originally was semi-formal in design, with shrub borders, a pond and a vegetable garden. J.A. Campbell was sent seed of Rhododendron zeylanicum from Ceylon in consignments of tea and the resulting plants are considered to be amongst the finest specimens in cultivation. Financial support was also given by J.A. Campbell to various expeditions to the Himalayas. The woodland garden was started by 1922 when the Campbell's last chauffeur, George Watts, started work at Arduaine, and he remembers the Eucalyptus unigera being planted in the early 1930s. James Campbell was a friend of Osgood Mackenzie of Inverewe who gave him much advice and assistance. During the 1920s, the garden supported six gardeners.

Following James Campbell's death in 1929, the estate passed to his son Bruce, later Lt Colonel Sir Bruce Campbell, then to his son, Major Ian Campbell, and the garden was kept up until World War II. After the War, Miss Yule, the nanny, looked after the garden until 1964 when the house was sold and converted into an hotel; during the clearance of the house, all the garden records were burnt. The gardens were then neglected until 1971 when Major Campbell sold them to the Nurserymen, Edmund & Harry Wright, who rescued them from the threat of a holiday home development scheme. Together, the brothers have brought the gardens back from decay to a thriving and exciting garden renowned for its Rhododenron collection. Although the fundamental form was laid out by the Campbells, the Wright brothers have recreated the gardens extending the water features, moving paths and redesigning windblown areas.


Early 20th Century (1901-1932)

Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


  • Planting
  • Description: A vast rhododendron species collection.
Key Information


Woodland Garden


Ornamental Garden

Principal Building



Early 20th Century (1901-1932)





Open to the public