It’s bluebell time at High Beeches Garden. The most sweetly scented of the British wild flowers will be in full bloom for the next few weeks. Wander through 27 acres of majestic woodland and water garden and experience the fine scent and thick blue drifts of bluebells, contrasting with pale yellow Rhododendrons, primroses and violets.
Sarah Bray of High Beeches Garden says; “You may also see the occasional white bluebell. This is rare as it is estimated that only one bulb in 10 000 lacks the natural blue pigment and is ‘albino’. Hyacinthoides non-scripta, the native bluebell proliferates at High Beeches but it is under threat from the Spanish bluebell which is the variety most commonly found in gardens.” The native bluebell can be identified by its creamy white pollen, strong, sweet smell and nodding flower spikes. In addition the petals roll back and the plants are more delicate than the Spanish variety.
Other highlights of the garden at this time of year include the Loderi group of Rhododendron. These very large, strongly scented, shrubs bear enormous trusses of colourful flowers and are considered to be the best hybrid Rhododendrons. In 2010 High Beeches was recommended in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Rhododendron, Camellias and Magnolias Group Handbook as the best garden in the country to see Rhododendron growing.
Also worth looking for are;
- Rhododendron x ‘Little Jessica’ High Beeches registered this hybrid in 1989. The leaves are huge with a tan coloured indumentum (the underside of the leaf). The flowers are a stylish purple red with black, red and purple markings and open white and spotted.
- Lysichiton americanus Known as the yellow skunk cabbage, this plant has amazing yellow flowers up to 40cm long, and comes from western North America. It has naturalised in some parts of the country, including High Beeches, where it has to be controlled as the roots can grow up to a metre bellow the surface.
- Prunus sargentii Considered by many to be one of the loveliest cherries. The tree grows to about 10 metres and bears single, rosy-pink flowers in mid-spring.
- Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Lennei’ This vigorous, spreading, multi-stemmed shrub has large leaves and enormous, goblet-shaped flowers, rose coloured on the outside and creamy white, stained with a soft purple inside. The two magnificent specimens were bought for twelve shillings and sixpence by High Beeches in 1914.
High Beeches Woodland and Water Garden is more than a century old. The garden has been described as ‘the most beautiful in Britain’ and is full of species forms. These are the original, wild forms of plants, collected from around the world. Many are rare and old. The garden is described as ‘Outstanding historically’ by English Heritage.
High Beeches is situated on the B2110, 1 mile east of Handcross and close to the A/M 23. The gardens open every day, 1-5 pm except Wednesdays, until 31 October.
Admission is £6.50 for adults and accompanied children aged under 14 are admitted free of charge. The gardens open out-of-hours for pre-arranged group visits. There is a licensed tea room and picnic area.
Published 3rd May 2012
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