The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens currently holds twelve National Plant Collections, providing interest throughout the year. For our visit to the garden the ‘Members’ Weekend’ crew were divided into four groups each one to be led by a garden expert.
Barry Clarke was allocated group three and I decided that walking backwards must be a ‘desirable skill’ for a guide: he seemed to spend most of his time not looking where he was going, addressing his audience and never once stumbling.
The magnolias were breath-taking and against the blue sky the blooms were perfect.
This genus is one of the more primitive flowering plants and the sexual parts developed as sturdy components to cope with being pollinated by beetles.
The Centenary border holds the promise of 8000 Allium ‘Purple Sensation’.
One of the newest areas to be redeveloped is a Himalayan area with a stream, pools of water and a manmade hillside planted with trees. The understory will be planted by spraying seeds onto it and the Primula denticulata are already edging the bottom of the slopes.
Rhododendron, another member of the Ericaceae family, were flowering in the Arboretum. Like Heathers, Rhododendrons have been tarnished with a touch of the 70s, but here were some very tasteful blossoms which would grace any colour scheme.
After lunch Doug had told us that no rain was forecast for the afternoon, but he didn’t mention hail.
Hardy gardeners pulled up their hoods or put up their brollies and 10 minutes later the sky was clear again.
And the Baker’s Dozen? Barry showed us some of the Cercidiphyllum which he hopes will be part of Hillier’s thirteenth National Collection.
A young Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Rotfuchs’ and a magnificent Cercidiphyllum japonicum
We could have spent all day in the gardens and arboretum;
I’ll just have to go again to see those Alliums when they are in flower.