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Best time to visit

Whatever time of year you visit the gardens, there is always a magnificent floral display! The stunning gardens are home to an extensive collection of rare rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias as well as a colourful tapestry of woodland perennials, ferns and primulas.

April

In April the woodland of Leopard Valley is full of treasures! You can admire and take in the wonderful early flowering species rhododendrons which thrive in the conditions: dappled shade, shelter, plenty of rain and deep leaf litter. Some of our most spectacular, unusual and impressive rhododendrons flower at this time of year such as Rhododendron mallotum, R. sinofalconeri and R. grande.

The magnolias, of which we have around 150 different varieties, are flowering profusely with blooms in shades of white, pink and crimson. Under the magnificent magnolias, you’ll find swathes of woodland treasures such as epimediums, wood anemones, trilliums and erythroniums. The ferns are looking at their prettiest unfurling in Spring with a pockets of drumstick primula giving pops of colour against the green backdrop.

It’s a wonderful time to take in our expanding collection of daffodils too – over 120,000 have been planted during the last 3 years!

May

The sight and scent of our blooming bluebell woodland is a glorious bounty and is a must see! It’s always hard to predict when the bluebells will look at their best but normally it’s the first week in May.

For many this is the peak blooming season with hundreds of varieties of rhododendrons coming into flower. Meandering along the footpaths, there is something new in bloom every day! The garden is a riot of colour, it is a real pleasure to wander through the sprays of extravagant colours. Scented, deciduous azaleas fill the air with their beautiful musky perfume and give a wonderful visual display throughout the gardens.              

June

A wonderful time to visit the garden is at the start of summer. There is still a wonderful display of hybrid rhododendrons but some of our most impressive perennials are starting to take centre stage. Our large collection of flowering dogwoods give an impressive floral show with their colourful bracts alongside the more unusual Chilean Lantern tree, Crinodendron hookerianum, covered in a profusion of crimson lanterns!

Beside the cool lush areas around the lakes and ponds, fabulous blooms of candelabra primulas in acid yellow, orange, pink and magenta fill the borders. The show is even more impressive as the colours are reflected in the water and are a garden highlight. The bluebells in the woodland have made way for a sea of the tall elegant spires of foxgloves!

For me the showstopper at this time of year is the blue Himalayan poppy! This enchanting plant has been planted all around the garden- it’s a real garden treasure as it is such a rich, true blue! Alongside the blue poppies, we have the spectacular Giant Himalayan lily with glorious, vanilla-scented, trumpet flowers on stems reaching up to 12 feet in height!

October

The garden re-opens when autumn arrives as the landscape is ablaze with colour. Yellows, oranges and reds paint a breath-taking picture across the hillsides with the cornus, azaleas and acers taking centre stage! The views around the lake and looking up into the garden are a real spectacle as the deciduous trees begin to lose their leaves and prepare for winter.

Autumn crocus and gentians are throwing out their stunning blooms with the Kaffir Lily giving a pop of colour along our waterways and lake edges. The herbaceous borders around the lakes have structure and interest with architectural grasses planted alongside late flowering perennials like Japanese anemones, Lysimachia clethroides and Aconitum carmichaelii.  The brilliant blues, pinks and whites blooms of the hydrangeas are starting to take on more rustic colours and add to the spectacle of colour in the garden! 

If you would like to know how the season is progressing in the garden, ‘like’ our Facebook Page.