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.




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.



Free in December

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.


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!


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.


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!