Leaving the garden behind us for Christmas in the U.K. we took the opportunity to visit The Savill Gardens for a second time. The first time was in December last year. This time my son and girl friend joined us for a leisurely stroll around the gardens. Even in December there is plenty of inspiration to be had from such beautifully planned and maintained gardens.
The colours of the Cornus alba and trees brightened up an extremely cloudy, winter day. The tree in the foreground is a Betula utilis var. utilis , the bark in this specimen is red and is starting to peel slightly, so different from other pure white specimens.
I had looked for this variety of birch in our local nurseries when we were first starting the garden in France but I was unsuccessful as they did not hold any named varieties, perhaps things have improved now, especially if you were willing to order on-line.
I remember these Acers from last year, under planted by a dark form of Bergenia – “Eroica”. Most forms of Bergenia are pretty heroic tough plants but these ones turn from a deep green to this red coloured leaf in the winter.
The bark is very shiny and peeling at the same time giving it an appealing tufty look.
Another Prunus that was a favourite with everyone was Prunus Maachi – “Amber Beauty”, this time it was the silky. smooth bark that was the attraction, coupled with the unusual grey/copper tone of the bark.
Even on a dull winter’s day the colours stand out in the garden.
The Savill Garden holds the national collection of Mahonia but the Mahonia are at their best in January and February so I will have to imagine the yellow flowers on the bushes on the left against the Cornus.
I did see yellow flowers of witch hazel, this is Hamamelis x Intermedia “Bernstein” – these hybrids are crosses between the Japanese witch hazel H. japonica and the Chinese witch hazel H. mollis. Witch hazels have always been one of my favourite plants because of their perfume and winter flowering season but I would not be as cruel to plant them in my inhospitable chalky soil.
Liana, being a New Zealander was keen to visit the New Zealand Garden.
My photograph of the Tororaro (Muehlenbeckia astonii ) doesn’t do it justice but it is a good example of how lovely even a deciduous plant can be. It had caught water droplets on its twigs and they sparkled even in the dull light.
I would have missed this insignificant little tree if Liana hadn’t pointed it out. It is Lancewood, Horoeka (Pseudopanax crassifolius) which has the peculiarity of changing its form from this juvenile lance-shaped plant to a mature tree with a more conventional bushy top with wider leaves. According to Wikipedia this strategy could have developed to avoid browsing of the young plants by the now extinct Moa birds.
I look for inspiration in the design of the gardens but certain features are just to be admired.
The woodland water feature is much beyond my garden.
The temperate house takes on a festive air at Christmas and provides a welcome break out of the cold on a winter visit. There are lots of perfumed white narcissi and poinsettia.
I had seen this Mahonia eurybracteata nitens last year and was pleased by its softer leaves but disappointed that it was not hardy, however, this year I have discovered another similar Mahonia – Mahonia eurybracteata subspecies ganpinensis”Soft Caress” which I have bought to bring home with me.
There is an amazing specimen of Mahonia x Media “Charity” just outside the temperate house. This hybrid which must be one of the most commonly seen Mahonia in the U.K. was first named “Charity” in the Savill Gardens. It was the only Mahonia that we saw so full of flowers in the gardens.
Despite the cold a lone bumble bee was foraging in the abundant flowers.
As she foraged she dropped clouds of yellow pollen on us as we followed her progress.
She retired to the trunk of the Mahonia for some grooming and we left her there. I was unsure of its identity so I sent my pictures to iSpot. It is a queen buff-tailed bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) out for a pre-Christmas nectar drink.