Every few weeks throughout the season, Lord Lansdowne shares his top tips on the Walk of the Week, his favourite places to view the best bluebells, rhododendrons, and azaleas – the history of some of the most fascinating species as well as keeping you up to date on all things Woodland Gardens.
Join our guided stroll with Lord Lansdowne below…
Sadly, this is the last of my three blogs and another season has almost gone. Some of you who regularly visit this garden will notice the ‘Walk of the Week’ hasn’t changed and nor will it for this final stroll. So once again I am taking you down Keeper’s Drive and into the Jubilee garden.
The question regularly asked is why it is called Jubilee? It just rolled off the tongue. We started work on this three acre wilderness in 2006. It was a jungle. The only features were three groups of mature Yews which I believe were planted by my Great Grandfather circa 1900, which suggests that he had intended to extend the Woodland Garden into this area, but never completed it. Once the ground was clear we started planting in 2008 and we had to name this area. So we plucked Jubilee out of the sky which didn’t at that time relate to a particular celebration, but now is very relevant!
Once again I want you to join me walking clockwise round this three acre space. The first group of plants you will notice on the right-hand side is a stunning Azalea called ‘Betty Ann Vos’, it is a double pink and a show stopper.
A few yards further on the left, is another wonderful group of Azaleas in particular the plant that stands out above all others is ‘Canons Double’.
Continue on round the path for another 50 yards and on the right hand side you will notice a stunning, somewhat rare Magnolia ‘Wieseneri’ with an upturned flower. Most Magnolias have drooping flowers, this is an exception.
Head on round the path up the other side of the valley. On your right you will see an exciting and unusual plant Calycanthus Raulstonii, given to us by a close friend and fellow gardener the Earl of Arran of Castle Hill.
Continue up towards the top of the valley and on your right you will notice a wonderful spring mix of young Gunnera, Ferns and Candelabra Primulas. Photographed in the evening sunlight. Leaving the Jubilee Garden follow the signs for ‘Walk of the Week’. I am going to take you through the Quarry without stopping, although still full of exciting plants, but I want to get you to the Mausoleum.
As you enter into the open space at the rear of the building, on the right hand side you will see an outstanding Rhododendron ‘Sappho’, which I hope will still be in flower when you read this blog.
The Mausoleum itself is one of Robert Adam’s most outstanding buildings. It was commissioned by the 1st Marquis’ Mother on the death of her husband the 1st Earl of Sherburne in 1761. As you enter through the double doors you will see immediately in front of you ‘Carlini’s’ sarcophagus in memory of her husband. Look up to the magnificent dome which encompasses the whole building. Believe it or not, it is possible to walk round the whole interior of the roof space between the plaster work and the outer dome. Needless to say I haven’t done it for many years, but as a young man fifty years ago, we carried out an inspection of the building and was amazed to discover this void held together by magnificent oak beams.
On the left is an altar in memory of my two cousins who were both killed within a fortnight of each other in 1944. If either had survived they would have inherited the Estate. We lived happily in Perthshire and Bowood came unexpectedly as a challenge. On the other side of the building is a striking Victorian statue of a young girl with a Latin inscription beneath which interpreted means “how much greater is a memory of you than your remains”.
Leaving the Mausoleum you can’t ignore a magnificent group of powerful red Rhododendron ‘Doncaster’.
Following Lady Lansdowne’s Ride towards the bottom of the valley at the intersection with Petty’s Walk you will see a stunning red plant called ‘May Day’ for obvious reasons.
Follow the sign up Fitzmaurice walk. It is like entering a beautiful tall building with long Rhododendron stems around you, beneath which is a carpet of petals. These petals will only last 24 hours so will have disappeared by the time you read this blog, so enjoy this photograph.
Leaving the fairy carpet behind you will come to another opening. Here you will see three exciting plants which I have grown from cuttings. They are called Janet Ward. The bloom is unusual with white edging round each pink flower.
Continue over the little bridge. On your left before returning to the entrance gate is another group of stunning plants ‘Tortoiseshell Champagne’. Graphically named, the best champagne should be deep gold just like these blooms.
So sadly we are at the end of this stroll together. It has gone too fast. Thank you for joining me on this little preamble and you will be much missed until we meet again next year.
Open 11:00am last admissions at 5:00pm closing at 6:00pm.
The Woodland Gardens are a separate attraction and have a separate entrance to Bowood House & Gardens. The entrance is just off the A342, Devizes Road, between Derry Hill and Sandy Lane villages. If using Sat Nav please use the postcode SN11 9PG.
2022 prices to the Woodland Gardens
Adult (17+) – £8.00
Senior (60+) – £7.00