Spring Gardens Open Day with Scotland’s Garden Scheme on Sunday 14 April 2024 (12 – 4.30 pm)

Winton Castle opens its doors for its Spring Gardens Open Day with Scotland’s Garden Scheme on Sunday 14 April 2024 (12 noon – 4.30 pm). Visitors will see the wild gardens round the castle awash with daffodils, and the historic walled garden and terraced gardens alive with spring flowers.

Winton, a popular exclusive use events venue in East Lothian, has been opening its gardens to support Scotland’s Garden Scheme since 1931, longer than any other Scottish garden. Profits from the day will be going to Scotland’s Garden Scheme charities, the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, Perennial and Maggie’s, as well as Winton’s chosen charity, East Lothian Food Bank.

Visitors can join garden tours led by Winton’s gardeners and watch paper flower demonstrations then refuel at Cafe Winton or bring their own picnics.

There are also guided tours of Winton Castle where history buffs can hear about Winton’s intricate Scottish Renaissance ceilings and chimneys, and the castle’s intriguing legacy with links to the powerful Seton family, Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Elgin Marbles.

The gardens at Winton Castle are known for their stunning natural beauty, whether it’s the colourful array of flowers, the lush greenery or the tranquil loch. As this year’s Open Day is focused on Winton’s gardens, please be aware that there won’t be any activities or stalls.

Winton’s head gardener is Neil Davidson who is ably assisted by Sarah Payne. Neil spent 15 years honing his craft at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh before joining Winton last September. Sarah has gardened at Winton for over two years, having trained with the MacRobert Trust in Aberdeenshire and worked in gardens across the UK. Their green-fingered prowess brings life and vibrancy to the magnificent grounds.

Winton Castle with daffodils 960
Winton Castle with Lucas ice cream van at Spring Open Day 960

Meet Winton's Gardening Team

Winton Terraced Gardens and Loch
Growing seedlings for Winton Gardens

Winton’s gardening team are the heart and soul of the Winton Estate so we asked them what inspired them.

What’s your favourite spot in Winton gardens?

Neil: “I’ve only seen the dormant Winton so I’m really looking forward to seeing what appears in the borders once the growing season starts.

“The gardens are so extensive that it’s hard to pick a favourite spot, but at the moment I would say the bottom terrace. It’s a suntrap and is the best display of Winton’s strapline ‘Intimacy on a Grand Scale’.”

Sarah: “There are always new surprises to be found in the garden which makes the job interesting! The variety and different areas at Winton are what I really enjoy.”

What are the next projects for the gardens?

Neil: “One of the next projects would be the annual Wildflower Border in the Walled Garden. This was really popular with folk last year and wildflower meadows are top for insects too!”

Sarah: “We have plans to change the annual borders in the Walled Garden to perennial planting this coming year. I’m looking forward to planning a planting scheme for this. I really enjoy the creative element of gardening.”

What makes Winton special compared to other gardens you know?

Neil: “The diversity of the gardens adds a special element to Winton. I have the freedom to experiment in different spaces with plants and flowers which I really love. I don’t actually have a garden at home, so Winton’s gardens are my home away from home!”

Sarah: “I really enjoy working with a great team across the estate, which for me makes Winton a special place.”

What’s your favourite plant or flower at Winton?

Neil: “That’s an almost impossible question for any gardener to answer! I like big leafy plants and there are a number of those dotted around the place – I like how they give a tropical feel, and yet I’m in Scotland! Surprisingly, at Winton I love the Coper’s Burnese Rose that we have in the walled garden. I’m not normally a fan of roses but this one is pretty mega.”

Sarah: “Last year we introduced some new varieties to our Dahlia borders on the middle terrace. The huge flower head and vibrant colour of ‘Mango Madness’ is my new favourite!”

You can learn more on Winton’s Spring Gardens Open Day on Sunday 14 April 2024 (12 noon – 4.30 pm) here. It is recommended that you reserve your tickets, especially for the limited number of castle tours.

Please note that this year’s focus is Winton’s gardens so there won’t be any activities this year.

Photo above: Neil Davidson, Head Gardener, and Sarah Payne, Assistant Gardener and the gardens at Winton Castle.