One of Helensburgh and Lomond's best loved gardens will receive a special award this week.

Glenarn in Rhu, famed for its spectacular rhododendrons and magnolias, will be presented with a plaque from Scotland's Gardens Scheme to mark 75 years of opening to the public.

The award is a recognition of the hard work and dedication of Mike and Sue Thornley who took over the gardens in 1983.

Mike told the Advertiser the gardens had, in fact, not opened for two years at the time they took over as it had become very overgrown and work was needed to clear areas before the public could visit.

Glenarn is a private garden, largely created and made famous for its collection of rhododendrons by the Gibson family.

The garden was established in the 1920s and 30s, overlaid on the original Victorian layout, with some remaining trees and rhododendrons from the 19th century.

Early in the spring, tall Asiatic magnolias flower on bare branches creating dramatic effect, together with many large-leaved rhododendron species and hybrids developed at Glenarn.

However, Mike said the cold spring this year meant that the plants were three weeks behind last year's flowering.

"The tree magnolias flower before the leaves appear and you have this incredibly colourful show against the sky.

"People are knocked out by the display, but this year the first pink flowers are just beginning to show."

Mike and Sue, who were architects in Glasgow, dreamed of retiring early and creating their own garden.

Glanarn's location proved to be ideal as it was not too remote, allowing the couple to commute to the city without too much difficulty until they decided to concentrate full time on the garden.

Visitors can enjoy a range of plants and features throughout the season.

A rock garden was created in the 1930s from the old quarry and natural rock outcrops and provides a range of habitats for smaller shrubs and plant material, in a more open location.

There are dramatic views from the upper quarry path and top bench down to Rhu Church tower and the Gareloch.

In the centre of the garden below the greenhouse there is a working vegetable and fruit garden which provides produce for the house.

Glenarn is open dawn to dusk from March to September.

On April 29 a heritage walk will take place at 2.30pm, when visitors will be told the fascinating history of the garden.

Glenarn is located off the A814, two miles north of Helensburgh. Follow the yellow 'Garden Open' sign at Pier Road, opposite Rhu Marina, and then the further sign at the right turn into Glenarn Road.