When the Fortescues lived here, apart from planting a few trees in an adjoining field that would later become the Long Walk, the garden was essentially bounded by the ancient walls of the walled garden and the drive way, which snakes its way down the slope towards the valley bottom. The front garden, overlooked by the house is dominated by an enormous Rhododendron arboreum with rather strident pink flowers that are definitely not to everyone’s taste. Surrounding the finely manicured front lawns which sweep towards the house are beds which contain a vast range of unusual woody plants including Magnolia, Hoheria, Euchryphia, Kalmia and hydrangeas for a long season of colour. To the left on the driveside is a magnificent Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’, known aptly as the wedding cake tree due to its distinctly tiered branches
Of particular note are some superb examples dating from the 1950s of the mealy-leaved Rhododendron yakushimanum, the parent of so many excellent hybrids and R. campanulatum subsp. aeruginosum whose spring foliage captivates visitors with its turquoise hues. Woody material in the front garden is combined or under-planted with a large array of perennials, notably hostas, rodgersia, brunnera, aconitums and asters.
At the lowest level are huge numbers of unusual bulbs, the season for which begins with the first colchicums in September through a six month season from Matt’s snowdrop collection and on through daffodils, erythroniums to the last ornithogalums in June.
Next: The Jubilee Arboretum