April/May/June sees one of the showiest displays in British Woodland Gardens, both urban and in the wild. After all, it is during these months that the Rhododendrons are in flower. These extravagant blooms, indigenous to the Himalayas, were originally taken around the world for private collections by the early Victorians. The hybridisation and crossing of the Nepalese varieties with the US varieties was originally to make them hardy enough for British winters. These days there are some incredible rhododendron hybrids available from all over the world that thrive in our UK climate. Many have become a central feature in British woodland garden design.
Rhododendrons have colonised many of the wild forests in the south of England and we’re spotlighting two different areas of the country that are renowned for their Rhododendron displays.
Last month we visited Exbury Gardens in the New Forest, with over 200 acres of gardens and woodland, including the famous Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees and shrubs. It is a truly magnificent collection with many paths leading through the woodland gardens, it is easy to get lost in the beauty of this place. Exbury Gardens was the inspiration of Lionel Nathan de Rothschild. Today, Exbury is recognised one of the finest woodland garden designs in the country.
This month the Rhododendron displays of the Sussex Weald enthralled us – the soil here is perfect for the growing of these ericaceous soil loving shrubs and trees. One of the most beautiful gardens was on our visit to the Ashdown Park Hotel, set on a hill surrounded by the forest that inspired AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. This former convent is now a luxury hotel and the 186 acre gardens are a real treasure. The woodland garden has naturalistic ‘ Capability Brown’ landscaping with the lawn undulating down from the house to the huge lake teaming with koi carp and a grand fountain that gives the relaxing sound of rushing water as you wander through the various areas of the garden. The open landscape is punctuated with magnificent mature Japanese Acers. A stroll through the formal garden beneath tunnels of enormous rhododendron hedges leads to a beautiful oval shaped space with Japanese style planting of azaleas, acers and rhododendrons. Conveniently, we find a bench, perfect for quiet contemplation – the only sound were the birds singing in the woods.
Woodland Garden Design:
Here at Paramount Plants, we specialise in Ornamental shrubs and mature trees. If you’re interested in creating a Woodland Garden or would like to source plants for acid loving soil, feel free to contact us – our nursery is open 7 days a week and all our plants available to buy online. We deliver to the UK including Scotland and to Ireland.
Browse Online – view our Rhododendron varieties, Azaleas and our Japanese Acer collection.
Paramount Plants & Gardens Ltd
131 Theobalds Park Road
London EN2 9BH
Tel: +44 (0)20 8367 8809