Sixteen gardens, estates and woodlands across Argyll & the Isles are taking part in the Scottish Rhododendron Festival, including Mount Stuart.
The festival is geared up to be vibrant from day one, as many of these wonderful plants are already in bloom because of the recent warmer temperatures.
Taking place from April 1 to May 31, the festival comprises more than 50 events across Scotland. This includes many activities and guided walks throughout Argyll & the Isles as gardens, estates and woodlands showcase their displays.
Returning for its fifth year, the annual festival is organised by national garden tourism group Discover Scottish Gardens and supported by VisitScotland. It aims to encourage local audiences and tourists to enjoy the wonders of Scottish gardens during the rhododendron flowering period and highlight the diversity of collections that can be found in Scotland.
Rhododendrons are a large family of around 1,000 species, from small mountain shrubs to tree-like specimens. This year, many species have been flowering earlier than usual due to higher-than-average temperatures.
David Knott, curator at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a world centre for rhododendron studies, said: “The warmer temperatures we have been experiencing provide optimum conditions for these exotic shrubs, originally from the east, to thrive.
“The unusual weather and early flowering also highlight the impact of climate change on plants and flowering behaviour – a situation we will continue to monitor at the Botanics.”
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland regional director, said: “We are approaching that time of year when Scotland’s Rhododendrons begin to flower.
“This festival began in Argyll and Bute and visitors to the area will have a huge selection of places to see this beautiful plant. It’s imperative that the tourism industry continues to provide events like this to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands and ensure visitors continue to have memorable experiences.
“So I’m delighted to see so many businesses across the region getting involved in this special festival.”