Savill Gardens. 10.04.14

It is delightful to return from our trip to Cornwall and find some sunshine in the home counties. Savill Gardens has been beckoning and we decided to visit before the school holidays filled the scene with happy carefree children and their happy carefree parents. We were not entirely successful.

The Savill Garden is primarily a woodland garden but they have the remarkable advantage of a high water table. As a result the garden is shaded but remains lush throughout the summer while other gardens become parched. This allows a great range of Rhododendron to flourish over a long season and avoid the idea that it is simply a spring garden.

Recent gales have had an impact. This large Nothofagus dombeyi has been treated unkindly. It was once a beautiful balanced specimen but is now a little lop-sided. With luck and time the wound will mellow and if the roots have not been rocked it still has a long future ahead of it.

Erythrounium revolutum has been naturalised around the gardens, prospering in the moist shade. It is one of the prettiest and most obliging of the Trout Lilies and I am very fond of it though it takes a very long time to establish like this. Gloria has taken to calling it the Old Trout Lily and her laughing eyes flash in my direction every time she says it. She thinks I haven't noticed but I am keeping it in mind.

The gardens have always been remarkable for the boldness of the planting. Here a great swathe of Arisaema ringens have been planted through the border. They look a little formal and gaunt at present but they will fill out into leafy clumps that will, unfortunately, conceal the flowers completely.

The temperate house is undergoing one of its periodic renovations. Plants grow with astonishing vigour here and from time to time it has to be cleared and replanted. The large specimens are retained along with the collection of tender Mahonia and the ground is enriched to await a new display.

In front of the temperate house, the gravel garden has started to respond to the warmth of spring. There is a sharp light that reflects from the gravel and illuminates the plants from below, creating some very striking effects. At present it is filled with Euphorbia characias glowing like lime marmalade but there a peonies and a wealth of summer bulbs to follow.

The stream flows slowly through the bottom of the valley, feeding the ponds. The Skunk Cabbages are currently skunky, at least up close, and will develop to be cabbagy. Gloria detests them but can never resist the chance to take pictures. It is a love-hate interaction. She says they have wonderful lines and then describes them as the scum polluting the stream. I suppose scum can still form in wonderful lines. I am put in mind of Gustav and his poor surfers at the end of the day, collapsed along the strand line too weak to escape from their wet-suits.

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