The Savill Garden visit October 2014


I was very fortunate on my last trip back to the U.K. to be able to visit the Savill Garden on a beautiful sunny day.  In addition, they are exhibiting sculpture in the garden between the 1st. September and 31st October 2014 and I was interested to see how I felt about sculpture in gardens.

Bronze pheasant

There is a bronze pheasant running across the grass in the first picture which is quite in keeping with the garden as there are real ones here too.


The next sculpture I passed was “Flora” who was beautifully set against the background of the autumn woods.  She is much too grand for my garden but the sculptures are for sale.  I am not sure how I stand here as I am not wanting to advertise them but if you visit the garden you can see how many copies are available and what the price is as they are labelled.  You would need more than two thousand pounds if she is just the perfect addition to a corner of your garden.


This cheetah, made out of bronze/iron resin, is almost half the price and perfect for the garden with an African savannah feel.

Hibiscus trionum

I was more interested in these Hibiscus trionum which were flowering profusely in a rather shady part of the garden.  They are also called Flower of an Hour as the flowers only last a day but the abundant flowers also leave attractive seed heads.  I would have thought they would have preferred a sunnier spot and I want to try them in my garden next year.  They are annuals or short-lived perennials and best sown annually from seed.


Not all the sculptures were over a thousand pounds and these black wire mesh crows could be bought singly or as a set of three.

Roe buck

The Roe Buck and fawn in bronze resin did not have me fooled as they rested near a screen of greenery.


I do not have an artistic nature but I was surprised at the pose of some of the statues.  This little owl in bronze resin had been placed in a beautiful old tree but perched on a piece of wood totally foreign to its environment.


I have my favourite plants in the garden now and I was heading for the temperate house and the Mahonia X Media “Charity”.

Carder bumble bee in mahonia

I was not disappointed as this beautiful plant was in flower and full of honey bees and bumble bees enjoying the nectar in the sunshine.

Magnolia seed pod

Close beside the Mahonia there is a Magnolia tree with surprisingly rose red seed pods, much different from the seed pods I get on my Magnolia so I checked out its label.

Champion Tree

I mentioned to my husband that I never knew that another name for Magnolia was Champion tree.  It was not until I got home and looked into it further that I discovered that it is this particular Magnolia that is designated a Champion Tree because it is a registered tree.  As you can see it has been recorded and measured in 2010 and you can follow the link to learn more.

Juglans nigra

We were very taken by the beautiful walnut tree that was dropping its ripe fruit, but when my husband accidentally stepped on one we noticed the different odour given off by the green case around the nut.  Checking on the label we noted that this is a Juglans nigra, or Eastern Black Walnut which is native to eastern North America and not the Juglans regia that I am more familiar with.

Juglans nigra

The fruit looks just the same from the outside but the shells are harder and more difficult to crack than the European walnut.  I would imagine the flavour would be slightly different too but I have never tasted one.

Arbetus arachnoides

Close by is another favourite tree, Arbutus arachnoides.  I find its peeling bark more attractive than Arbutus unedo , the strawberry tree that is native to France, but I have never seen the arachnoides variety on sale.

bumble on Arbutus arachnoides

The flowers look exactly the same and the bees were feasting on them gratefully.


Another flower attracting a lot of attention from the bees was the Persicaria vacciniifolia.  I would like to have a bank of low flowers giving colour in the autumn in my garden,so I treated myself to a Persicaria to take back with me, but it was the Darjeeling Red variety that I found.

Shaggy dog

This “Shaggy Dog Story” in bronze resin is the ideal solution for the gardener with allergies and at just over a thousand pounds must work out a lot cheaper than the real thing counting food and vet bills.


Some of the sculptures were in metal.


A metal dragonfly hovered over the waterlillies.

dragonfly on pond

This picture gives an idea of the scale and positioning of the dragonfly.

Savill Garden

With gardens like this I would not feel the need of any man made enhancements.


But perhaps this “Pouncer” would add some drama.

Self contained man

Or the “Self contained Man” might provide a centre point, although I find his positioning here beside the metal railings far from sympathetic.

Ligularia fischeri

I preferred discovering flowers and plants in the garden that are new to me like these tall yellow Ligularia fischeri, “Cheju Charmer”.

bumble on Ligularia

And it is not just because the bees liked the flowers but I think they would appreciate growing in a garden with moister soil than I could offer them.


It is just sheer coincidence that this photograph of Cardiandra formosana “Crug’s Abundance” happens to have a carder bumble bee in it.  I was taken by its colours which are so different from the usual autumn colours.  Another plant for my wish list.


It was such a beautiful visit and perfect timing to see what can be done in a garden in the autumn.



31 thoughts on “The Savill Garden visit October 2014

  1. That looks like a wonderful visit! The dragonfly reminds me of a similar work by David Rogers that I saw as part of an exhibit by David Rogers at the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich Mass USA in August. I did a post about it ( I don’t want to push that here) but you can see it in my September posts. I enjoy sculpture in the garden!


    1. This dragonfly was by Mike Bigland. It is from a series of a hundred and costs £490. I think I have a very practical mind and I prefer the art to be put into useful items in the garden. I remember with pleasure a beautiful bench made in the style of Rennie Mackintosh in the Rose Garden at Drum Castle which is very appropriate for a Scottish Castle but also very handy for enjoying a flask of tea and a sandwich 🙂 Amelia


  2. Hi Amelia, I was just sitting here googling the cause of distorted Magnolia seed heads. I spotted something similar at Hestercombe last year and my own common and huge Magnolia soulangeana has developed three seed heads just as you have shown, the rest look normal. So far google is telling me its due to poor pollination but not sure if thats correct. We have visited the park at Saville on several occasions for family picnics as its a central meeting point for my extended family but I have never been inside the gardens, I am going to rectify this after reading your review its looks a wonderful place to visit.


    1. That is really interesting about the seed heads of the Magnolia. I must admit I too am surprised at the poor pollination idea as I cannot think of these garden lacking pollinators but perhaps the exact match if cross pollination is needed for the best pollination? I know some plants can cross or self pollinate. Anyway, there were a lot of seed heads like those on the tree and I found them very attractive and a beautiful addition to the autumn colours. There is also a very nice self service restaurant with inside and outside seating. I miss my lattes and scones in France. I just can’t get into the French way of having a little espresso on its own in the morning or afternoon. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think sculpture can look great in a garden but it does depend on the sculpture and its placement; I didn’t think any of the images you shared were improved by the sculpture, I think I liked the metal flowers the most but probably because they were integrated into the planting! My Arbutus has masses of buds but the flowers haven’t opened yet; it seems strange that the one in England is in advance of here doesn’t it?


    1. It was the placing of the sculptures that surprised me. I thought artists were supposed to be very particular as to how their works were viewed. I would prefer the art work to be incorporated into another garden feature such as a shelter or sundial or birdbath. The Arbutus arachnoides is native of warmer regions and perhaps flowers earlier? It does seem rather strange unless it is linked to day length too. Amelia


  4. I’m inclined to agree with Christina, that none of the sculptures seemed in the same quality league as the garden design and planting, which look lovely – but I guess it’s all extra PR and income for the gardens and sculptors.
    I can endorse the plant you purchased (P.vaccinifolia) as a brilliant honeybee nectar flower for September/October. With us it’ll grow in the grottiest of soil, if it’s a sunny spot, and its easy to spread around with rooted layers. I don’t know why its not more popular, This year, it sounded like you were stood by a hive entrance, there were so many bees on it on mild days


    1. Now I am really excited about my purchase! It seems a good plant for my garden. I can learn such a lot from walking round these beautiful gardens in different seasons when they are so well labelled as Savill Garden. The gardeners are very enthusiastic as well if you ask them anything. The sculptures did add another element of interest but I was not personally tempted by any of them. Amelia


  5. Some knotweeds can be very invasive so you might want to keep an eye on your Persicaria vacciniifolia for the first year. They are beautiful though and can create quite an impressive display.
    I think I like the dragonfly sculpture more than the others, but what I’d really like to have is a great blue heron sculpture.


    1. I will keep my eye on the knotweed and put it into a spot to challenge it if it misbehaves. I remember out walking with my husband in the U.K. and he was very disparaging of someone having placed a plastic Heron statue in a pond at a local beauty spot. I thought he was joking until he looked shocked when it flew off! I think that is one thing that could be very well incorporated into a garden. Amelia


  6. I agree with the others about the sculptures – the garden itself is far more impressive! But I did like the dragonfly – wish we had a pond. We have both those walnuts in the garden and my husband is always telling me about the difference in their ‘crackability! Wish I’d paid more attention now! But they all go in the same bag and I can’t tell the difference in the taste when we eat them. Lovely images, Amelia (esp. the magnolia seed pod!).


    1. The dragonfly is one of a hundred by Mike Bigland and costs £490 if you decide to put in a pond. Interesting that you have the two types of walnuts and that the kernels taste the same. I think I would put the walnuts into different bags and give the black walnuts’ bag to your husband to crack 😉 Amelia


  7. growntocook

    A beautiful garden to visit in autumn -thanks for sharing the pictures!
    We were able to squeeze three garden visits into our week in England last week (West Dean, RHS Wisley and Arundel) and the gardens in their autumnal glory were so beautiful.


  8. Thank you for the tour. Perhaps if the sculptures had been intended as permanent fixtures they would have been placed more carefully. It’s an interesting mix but not much in the way of pure abstraction. Regarding the walnuts, I’m not a big fan of walnuts in general and tend to avoid them. Most of what we get here are imported or exotic species. Some people rave about our native black walnuts but I think they taste even worse than the European ones.


  9. What a lovely visit! Love the Ligularia and the Hibiscus – and the Cardiandra looks really interesting too. I quite like figures in gardens, if fitting, but agree that this garden would look stunning without. Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures Amelia!


  10. The sculptures leave me a bit cold too!
    I think the “Self-contained Man” could easily be entitled “caged” where they placed him… ghastly!! Stuff of nightmares…
    I like the two otters, tho’… and the resin [I presume] fits them well…
    the only one that works!! Well placed…
    I wouldn’t mind the dragonfly, either, but the rest?
    Well, the pheasant works… but needs a different position…
    the Little Owl should have been placed in the fork of the old tree…
    not placed out on a limb!!
    And the postures of these two are too stiff!

    As for the mutt… looks like a gravestone… and whatever it is that is pouncing, the posture is all wrong and the animal is unrecognisable.

    One, possibly two, sculptures in a large garden…
    well placed and well chosen… perhaps, slightly hidden or just around a corner…
    now that usually works!

    So, to the bees, and flowers…
    Don’t need sculptures…
    and they wouldn’t be fooled by the wierd, twisty “flowers”!


    1. I have only recently become aware of the Chelsea Physic Garden through following another blog but I do appreciate the link you have sent as it seems even more interesting than I had thought. In addition, the available refreshments seem to cater for my tastes which is an extra plus! I liked the bee library nesting site too. Now that is a good idea for a garden – a bee hotel artistically made to be a work of art and serve a good purpose! Amelia


    1. Absolutely! I think creating different sitting areas in a garden is the most important part of using and enjoying the garden. I hope you find a special place to sit and enjoy the Savill Garden when you visit. Amelia


  11. Pingback: Magnolia x soulangeana and a mystery unravelling | Gardening Jules

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