Spring at Exbury Gardens, Hampshire

Lawn at Exbury Gardens

A visit to Exbury Gardens in the week between two May Bank Holidays was a treat for the senses.  I last visited after the summer drought and before the winter storms and asked myself, ‘how would everything look?’  In short, everything looked thrillingly fresh.

There have been some losses, which, while regrettable, have provided opportunities to the gardeners to open up views, plant new (drought-resistant) species and create entirely new gardens. 

Among these new gardens is the ‘Bamboozerie’, an area by the Camellia Garden that has been planted with different species of bamboo.  (Bamboozerie might not be a real word, but I like it very much!) Newly-planted waterlilies in as many colours of the rainbow as could be found show great promise as they adorn the ponds.  The Rock Garden, undoubtedly one of the largest in the country, has been the focus of some major work in recent years.  The latest planting here includes trees such as Prunus serrula, Carpinus fangiana and Arbutus unedo – the Killarney Strawberry Tree.    

Bamboos, waterlilies and the Killarney Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)

Even with a late start to the season, I could almost compile a rainbow of images.  While the camera on my phone couldn’t capture the stunning sea of bluebells, the clear blue sky helped me along.  I particularly love the purples of the Rhododendron augustinii, which is also called the blue rhododendron. 

The (almost) rainbow of May

While famous for its rhododendrons Exbury has much to offer all year round.  The tree canopy is impressive; recent efforts to maintain it have included planting Oaks and Dutch Elm-resistant Elms.  Later in the year the National Collection of Nyssa trees will be showing off its best side.    

Trees in May

Sights of the New Forest! 

Specially for Kathy: plant sales and signage! 

I said at the beginning of this piece that the visit was a treat for the senses.  Sights, sound, smells and touch were all fully taken care of in the gardens themselves.  Taste was satisfied by a delicious lunch involving chips, a true mid-week treat. 

I recommend taking a peek at the Exbury Gardens website to keep up with the latest developments there. 


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