The Savill Garden December 2015

I first visited The Savill Garden in December 2012 (Free in December).  I admit the absence of an entrance fee attracted me to visit but it has become one of my favourite gardens.  For me to really appreciate a garden I need to get to know it and I look forward to seeing some of my favourite trees as I would old friends.

Long view

There is plenty to see even in the winter and I was interested to see the differences this exceptionally mild winter might show.


I was impressed that by covering the Gunnera plants with their leaves in such regular pyramids that it transformed the bed into an attractive feature for the winter.

Arch with Camelia

The arch leading into the spring garden was already sprinkled with flowering pink Camellias, judging by the label Camellia Japponica “Lady Clare”.

Rhododendron kiusianum

Rhododendron kiusianum or Kyushu Azalea, a native of southern Japan, was also in flower.

Start of green roof

Heading to the Temperate House I was disappointed that the large Mahonia “Charity” was no longer in flower, I think the mild autumn encouraged it to flower earlier than usual.  However, I noticed the beginnings of a green roof which I will be interested to watch progress in future visits.

Acacia Pravisima

The Acacia pravissima was flowering brightly against the wall.  This plant is a native of Australia and would usually flower a month after Acacia dealbata in France.  Acacia dealbata is also a native of Australia but is very commonly grown in parts of France including our region and flowers from January onwards.  I have not planted any Mimosa in our garden, despite the attractive perfume of the flowers, as it is very vigorous and invasive and will push up shoots around the main trunk.

Chamaecyparis obtus “Leprechaun”

Nearby, we could not help but be amused at this little plant which is so well-named – Chamaecyparis obtusa “Leprechaun”.   It has an expected height of  thirty centimetres.

Raolia lutescens

At the same raised bed I was attracted to what I took for an algal mat.  Wikipedia tells us that it is in the “pussy’s-toes-tribe” and is a native New Zealand plant which when covered by its little white flowers can resemble flocks of sheep when viewed from afar – leading to its common name of Vegetable Sheep!

Hamamelia japponica Pallida

Coming back to more mundane plants, this was a time to see the wonderful varieties of Witchhazel that grow throughout the gardens, like this Hamamelia japponica Pallida.

Hamamelis intermedia Pallida

Or the very similar Hamamelia intermedia Pallida.

Hamamelis Intermedia Orange Peel

I liked the Hamamelis Intermedia “Orange Peel” as the petals were a deep, bright yellow and did look like orange peel.

Mahonia Bokrafoot

I was disappointed not to see the huge Mahonia “Charity” in flower but it did bring my attention to other Mahonias that can be grown like this Mahonia Bokrafoot.  This is a very compact hybrid of M. repens and will only reach 60cm in height.

Mahonia wagneri 'Aldenhamensis'

A patch had been planted out with several Mahonia wagneri ‘Aldenhamensis’ which were flowering bravely, despite being still in the seedling stage.  It will probably take about ten years for these plants to reach a maximum height of one and half metres and it is comforting for me to be aware that even in these beautiful mature gardens there is a lot of renewal and beginnings amongst the stunning focal points.

Green parrot

One thing we could not ignore was the noisy groups of green parrots calling from high in the trees.  These are the rose-ringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri), also known as the ring-necked parakeet.  These birds have most likely escaped from captivity having been imported from Africa or Asia as pets.  Large flocks of parakeets have established themselves in the Greater London area and are not always welcome as they can be very noisy additions to the neighbourhood.

Iris reticulata Katherine Hodgkin

There was so much to see like these Iris reticulata “Katherine Hodgkin”.

Hellebore bumble

And I still managed to see some bumble bees in the Hellebores

Bumble in Arbetus

and Arbutus arachnoides.





32 thoughts on “The Savill Garden December 2015

    1. I would imagine it would be good for the queen bumbles to get out for a top up especially as there seems plenty around for them this year. They should be fat enough to hunker down and hibernate if it gets cold now. Amelia


  1. I enjoyed your winter tour Amelia, it looks as if you had some wonderful warm sunny weather – temperatures are finally due to drop here next week, although I am quite looking forward to a decent frost. I really like the way Gunnera plants are covered too, they are almost alien like.


  2. I went to the Savill garden for the first time nearly forty years ago(!) in late spring when the rhododendrons and azaleas were flowering. I have never forgotten how wonderful it was. Thank you for reminding me, and for posting the lovely photographs. I especially like the witch hazel, one of those plants that we natural medicine users often turn to.


  3. By the way, I brought some acacia seeds all the way from the Abbey Gardens on Tresco, Isles of Scilly to Egypt to try raising them in my garden in New Cairo. Total failure… But you do see acacias growing in the desert here.


    1. My husband is an incalcitrant seed collector (we have three baby trees in pots I don’t know what he will do with) but he collected seed from an acacia tree in a car park in Guildford and now has a tree growing happily outside our house. It flowered last year so perhaps you were just unlucky. At least acacia trees grow quickly, one of his baby trees is a black walnut! Amelia


    2. Jenni

      Most acacia seeds need heat treatment to germinate as one way of cracking the hard black seed coat. (Wattles in Australia are the first plants to germinate after bushfire…) Different species have different germination requirements, but I’ve had success with both boiling water and lukewarm water soaking for 24 hours. Some also need smoking! Some people sandpaper the seedcoat. Good luck – we wouldn’t be without wattles in Australia – the golden wattle is our emblem.


      1. This is fascinating: I have read that some seeds need fire in order to germinate, and this throws really interesting light on a mystery of nature. I’ll go back to the seeds from Tresco and try a couple of the techniques you suggest. I have seen acacias growing in the wild in Egypt, in otherwise inhospitable desert, but perhaps they were originally introduced by human interference.


        1. There are 163 different species of Acacia so I see no reason why the ones you have seen should not be native species. Good luck with the the germination, it is a good idea to try different methods in the hope that at least one could strike it right.


  4. Even though we used to live relatively close to Savill gardens it isn’t a garden I know very well, I think it has been much improved in recent years, I very much enjoyed the description of your visit.


  5. I must keep an eye out for vegetable sheep. 🙂 I was very surprised to see the parakeet. I always think of them as tropical birds. Hard to imagine they have adjusted so/too well to colder climes.


    1. The vegetable sheep are found in the rocky, alpine areas and are hard to the touch, not woolly as their appearance from a distance gives you to believe. The parakeets look very incongruous in an English garden but flocks of them can be found all round the South East. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A great tour Amelia – in some winter sunshine too. The fascinating woolly sheep plant was intriguing – maybe you can plan a revisit when the sheep are grazing? We heard/saw the parakeet flocks once at Kew, and I have to say I’d have really been annoyed by them if they roosted, fed in our garden – as you say a bit incongruous for the UK. I wonder if the UK warms up, whether like the Tree Bumblebee, they’ll gradually migrate over to the West of the country. But most likely they wouldn’t like all the rain!
    Best wishes


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