Saturday, 15 January 2011

Winter wonderland at Sir Harold Hillier's garden!

It may be mid winter, but there are still wonderful gardens to visit at this time of year! I dropped in at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum in Hampshire this week and during a very brief sunburst, took these photographs in the glorious winter garden. My heart lifted when I saw the array of colours - clever planting of dogwood (Cornus) - used all over Britain to give winter colour to gardens - because it gives such vibrant hues (above and below) when there is little else in bloom.
Just a brief ray of sunshine is enough to bring this wonderful garden alive, with all the multi-coloured Cornus stems ranging from green to yellow, orange and red and silvery evergreens in between. This garden is always a joy to visit, whatever the season, and every time I return, I'm amazed by what I find here. Also worth remembering is that annual membership here costs just £29.50, but includes entry to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Wakehurst Place, the National Botanic Garden of Wales and the Birmingham Botanical Garden - so really worthwhile if you're passionate about gardens! 
Skilful planting leads to magnificent winter colour palettes here at Hillier - 180 acres of some of the finest plants and trees in the country - just outside Winchester and en route to the south coast. All the other gardens included in membership also have fine winter features. Kew, Birmingham and Wales have magnificent glass houses and you'll find the Millenium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, so weather doesn't matter if you're visiting any of these!

Sir Harold Hillier was one of the greatest plantsmen of the 20th century - he travelled the world collecting plants and brought them back to England - he even sent plants home from his honeymoon! They were then planted at his home here near Romsey or, in the case of tender species, on the Isle of Wight, where he kept them in the kinder climate at Ventnor. Both gardens are run by local councils and are a fine example of public garden stewardship and making gardens work on a grand scale!

What's really noticeable at this time of year is that even winter has its blooms - look at the trees and you'll see the winter colours; look at the bark and you'll see wonderful patterns; look at the ground and you'll see the beginnings of spring! Just open your eyes and enjoy.
There is also an excellent nursery. I bought all the prunus I have in my garden from here a couple of years ago, having seen just what it can do to brighten up a winter patch. Other notable garden features are the Bog Garden, the Children's Garden (below), which encourages smaller people to appreciate plants and textures, while teaching them about how gardens work; the Ghurka Memorial Garden featuring plants from Nepal; and much, much more. My only regret is that I don't live closer so that I could visit more often!

8 comments:

  1. What wonderful firecrcker colours! I really must plant more for winter interest in my garden, how inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oooo,lovely gardens, so beautiful colors !!
    Thank you
    Have a nice week-end !

    ReplyDelete
  3. The red and orange dogwood branches are gorgeous! I can only imagine that walking in these gardens must feel like walking through a sunset. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was so wonderful to see what great colors. We have those branches in Maine on the side of the road. I think someone said it was dogwood. They are bright red. I know dogwood to be a tree with pink flowers.
    Beautiful post.
    yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Dogwood is amazing. Your photos really do the plants justice. Thanks for sharing your colorful post!

    ReplyDelete
  6. These are some amazing colors. It must be the climate to make the plants so vibrant. Your last photo is lovely, the juxtaposition between the art and landscape.

    Drop in at GWGT if you get some time. I have some nice images of the Falls I have been shooting. I know you have been to the Falls, but most probably not the places I have been showing. I have some pretty snow shots in my series in the last two weeks, plus I will continue it after GBBD. Hope to see you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So wonderful, all the colours, simply fantastic!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am really enjoying your garden photography. You have captured the beauty and essence of each garden and the colors are magnificient. Just beautiful!

    ReplyDelete