a french garden

Free in December

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Savill Garden

The Savill Garden is situated at the southern end of Windsor Great Park, covers 35 acres and does not charge admission during the month of December.  What more incentive does a Scot need to visit and marvel at such a fine landscaped garden during the Christmas holidays in the UK?  I felt now was the time to really appreciate a garden that is reduced to its bare bones by the winter.

Savill garden cornus

Cornus sanguinea

As expected, full use had been made of the colours available in winter with beds of dogwood adding patches of brightness.

Towards New Zeeland garden

It was easier to see the sculptural detail provided by the trees.

Mahonia Charity

Mahonia “Charity”

Colour was provided by the Mahonia with their large yellow flowers.

Acer conspicuum "Phoenix"

Acer conspicuum “Phoenix”

The barks of the trees were much in evidence and I was particularly impressed by this Acer which kept its deep pink/red colour to the tips of its twigs.

Sun-striped (?) trunks

Sun-striped (?) trunks

These trunks looked as if they were reflecting the sun, although the sun was most definitely lacking!

Yellow litchen on trunk

Yellow litchen on trunk

Nature had provided a harmonious decoration to enhance this area and provide colour on dull days like this.

Quercus oxyodon bark

Quercus oxyodon bark

I found this oak ‘s bark attractive, I had never seen it before.

Arbetus andrachnoides

Arbutus andrachnoides

I marvelled at the Arbutus and its stunning peeling bark.  My Arbutus back home is still small, it is an Arbutus unedo.  Arbutus unedo is one partner of the cross with Arbutus andrachne that gives this beautiful hybrid Arbutus andrachnoides which appears naturally where the two species overlap.  I did covet the spreading growth and beautiful bark of this specimen but  I did also realise the impracticalities of trying to climb into its branches and photograph the bees nectaring on the flowers.  Small has certain advantages.

Hamamelis intermedia Vesta

Hamamelis intermedia Vesta

I also enjoyed the different Witch hazels blooming in the gardens.  I really think Witch hazels are magic plants to produce such beautiful flowers in winter and I always admired them in the gardens in Scotland intending to plant them when I had a garden of my own.

Hamamellis intermedia Pallida

Hamamellis intermedia Pallida

Unfortunately, they need an acid soil and I would not want to torture a plant by planting it in my chalky soil.

Different pallida

Different pallida

This specimen was also marked as a “Pallida” but I do not know why it is much more pallid than the previous one, still gorgeous though.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

I saw my first snowdrops of the season, perhaps some of mine will be up to welcome me when I get home.

Prunus subhirtella autumnalis

Prunus subhirtella autumnalis

Another white flower gracing the gardens was a flowering cherry!  It seemed to be ignoring the dull. miserable, rainy weather and providing a mass of beautiful, delicate flowers, truly amazing!

Magnolia

It was not only the trees in flower that was providing interest, I loved the wandering trunks of the Magnolias.

Magnolia stellata buds

Magnolia stellata buds

The buds of the Magnolia were also appealing.

Magnolia bud opening

Magnolia bud opening

I became completely fascinated by these beautiful fluffy buds and continued to photograph them, trying to pose them in the most advantageous position.  Then I saw the similarity – I was still taking photographs of fluffy things on branches!  These were my substitute bees and bumble bees, very much lacking in a winter garden – no matter how beautiful.

Mallards

The insect life was not visible but an English garden cannot be complete without its ducks.

Male pheasant

Male pheasant

We were just about to leave when a male pheasant came strutting out of the bushes.  Such a beautiful plumage.  Not the smartest of birds.

Crow looking on

Crow looking on

The other birds that were very much in evidence were the crows.  They kept an eye on the picnic tables outside the restaurant to mop up any leftover morsels and monitored duck feeding knowing that young children were frequently not proficient bread throwers.

Truly a wonderful visit and I  have only succeeded in showing a few of the highlights.  I cannot miss out the excellent cafeteria and delicious pastries and a small but interesting area of plants for sale.  They had entered into the spirit of the season and had a 50% reduced section – what an excellent way to end a visit to a garden, some more bee friendly plants at half price!

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Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

24 thoughts on “Free in December

  1. A timely reminder for me to buy another witch hazel or seven – mine died last year. I spend quite some time studying tree bark at this time of year (sad but true) and I’m so pleased my young Acer griseum is finally beginning to peel. Looks like a fine garden, Amelia and not one I know. Dave

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  2. Thanks for the guided tour of a lovely park. There is a flowering cherry in my garden. I don’t know its name but it is a type of cherry that blossoms twice a year; once in spring and again in late late autumn/early winter. The first time I saw it bloom when everything else around was in winter mode, I thought the tree had gone mad.

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  3. How spectacular the witch hazels are. And I love the idea of magnolia buds as substitute fuzzy bees.

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  4. Lovely park… great winter colour, too.

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    • The gardeners have done a wonderful job as it was a very dull day yet the garden was bright with colour and interest. It was a real test for a garden to see it on a day like that. I look forward to a visit one day in better weather.

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  5. What a lovely place Amelia. I wonder if they allow dogs. I had a lovely book out of the library for ages about winter gardens… http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Garden-Create-Through-Forgotten/dp/184403481X/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357403763&sr=1-7
    It inspired me to plan more for this season, but our garden isn’t really big enough. I did plant a witch hazel but it died – our soil wasn’t acidic enough, I think.

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    • No dogs apart from on the outside terrace of the restaurant.
      My daughter gave up her membership of the National Trust a few years ago when she turned up a park she regularly walked with her dog on leash. She was refused entrance as they had changed the rules as they said that dogs even on leash frightened children.
      The book looks lovely. There is such a lot to think of in a garden, I think I could probably do more for my garden to improve it in the winter but I have concentrated more on the times I am in it i.e. once the temperature rises a bit.

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  6. Many of those photos look like April, not December. What a wonderful garden.

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    • A beautiful garden indeed. We had gone a few days earlier but we were very quickly beaten back by the rain and cold and only saw enough to know it was worth returning. It did not stop us enjoying a latte and scone in the lovely cafe though!

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  7. Wow, all that color! What a nice respite from winter.

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  8. Seems it is much more going on in gardens over there. Here it is absolutely nothing, in the living kind of sense. I have a sleeping garden.

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    • I think that temperature will have a lot to do with that. I don’t think you have much hope of having a flowering cherry outside in December in Norway. Instead you have the ice and snow to provide the beauty.

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  9. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to Windsor Great Park, the furry magnolia buds are beautiful! Winter is much more colourful than people think! 🙂

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  10. Pingback: Savill Gardens 2013 | a french garden

  11. Pingback: The Savill Garden December 2015 | a french garden

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