Spring in full swing! It has been a glorious start to spring with the magnificent magnolias in bloom and the unusually dry April has encouraged later flowering bulbs and shrubs to bloom earlier, making for a very interesting May.
Beginning in the sub-tropical house on the right hand side of the steps is Crinum pedunculatum (1) this mammoth lily-like plant can reach up to 3 metres in height and spread and is grown as street planting in Australia. Turn right making your way through the Mediterranean House, taking a moment to take in the sights and aromas before heading into the Arid House where you will see the glorious tree-like Opuntia elatior (2) with its red flowers which is around 50 years old. Then from the end of the terrace, turn left and head down Douglas Way, just before the fountain on the right in the Chinese Pinetum you will come across Kolkwitzia amabilis ‘Pink Cloud’ (3) and with its delicate dusky pink flowers you can see why it is commonly known as the beauty bush.
From the fountain take Wilson Walk that runs above the rock garden. On the right is the amazing handkerchief tree with its long white bracts and on the left in the American Bank is Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ (4) with its cascading branches of flowers surrounded by large white showy bracts. Follow the path to end of Wilson Walk bearing left and you will be in the Grass Garden where there is a swathe of bearded Iris ‘Godfrey Owen’ (5) positioned in full sun, ensuring the rhizomes get the good bake that they need to flower well.
From the Grass Garden head back the way you came in and turn left to see the riot of colour that is the Azalea Walk. Rhododendron ‘Golden Eagle’, (6) which has brilliant, vivid red-orange flowers, is on the corner of the bed closet to Wilson Walk. With almost every colour imaginable, we have an array of azaleas to suit all tastes and don’t forget to breathe in the heady scent as well!
Head back up the garden now either along Cameron Path or Farrer Walk until you come to the end of the rock garden and back up towards the fountain. Take Jekyll Walk path on the left and walk along the west lawn to see the Herbaceous Border. On the left of the steps are Astrantia ‘Hadspen Blood’ (7), and as the cultivar name suggests it is a sultry dark red colour.
You are almost at the end of the tour so continue to the end of the West Lawn and follow the path round to the Alpine Yard where you will see the lovely Wisteria sinensis (8) trained up a sunny wall, it’s just dripping with flowers. A perfect floral treat to end the tour.
The guide book, tree guide and a range of interpretation sheets can be viewed in the front entrance and purchased from Reception.