A hidden gem in the High Weald of Sussex, sensitively planted to enhance the natural landscape. A botanical treasure trove and classic English idyll make High Beeches one of the finest gardens in the South East


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Magnolia sargentiana var robusta

Magnolia sargentiana var robusta
is having one of its best years ever.
The weather has suited it and so it is not only flowering prolifically but has not been damaged by frost.
This afternoon it was looking particularly
beautiful in the spring light.  This tree is fairly remarkable.  It is highly likely that this plant is one of those that came from Chenault of Orleans who received seeds from the Arnold Arboretum which had been collected by Ernest Wilson in 1908, and which he multiplied by grafting.  It  flowered at Caerhays http://www.caerhays.co.uk/in 1931.

The tree here at High Beeches was blown down in the great Storm of 1987.  The decision was made to cover the root ball as much as possible and to prune it back.  The tree has continued to grow and flower each year ever since.  One of the surviviors of a  terrible night.

Today a visitor to the garden was stunned by the sheer quantity of flower.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A beautiful Magnolia


Magnolia campbellii is possibly the most magnificent of the Magnolias.  This tree grows here at High Beeches almost on the roadside and rarely fails to flower.  This year it is looking particularly superb due to the mild weather.

Magnolia campbellii is a native of the Himalayas and was probably first introduced to this country in 1865.  It is thought to have flowered first at Veitch's Nursery in 1895.  It is named after Dr Arthur or Archibold Campbell of Darjeeling who was appointed the first superintendent of the
sanitarium town of Darjeeling in 1839.
In 1849 he and Sir Joseph Hooker were
imprisoned by the mad Dewan of Sikkim
and had to be rescued by a British Team.
Campbell wrote many papers on Himalayan

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Plenty of Pinks

Prunus Okame

Camellia Lady Clare
There are already too many plants to count in flower in the garden.  I thought I would have a look at the pinks

Prunus Okame a hybrid (P.campanulata x P.incisa) raised by Captain Colllingwood Ingram has masses of deep pink flowers which look beautiful against an early spring blue sky.

Camellia japonica Akashigate (Lady Clare)
is a dense evergreen shrub which flowers freely in Spring.

Rhododendron Cilpenense

Rhododendron Cilpenense is a pretty early flowering rhododendron, a hybrid (R ciliatum x moupinense) raised at Bodnant

Viburnum grandiflorum

Magnolia sargentiana robusta

Viburnum grandiflorum is a deciduous upright shrub with pretty pink and fragrant flowers in early spring.  It is a native of the Himalayas and was introduced in 1914 by Roland Cooper from Bhutan.

The first buds are showing pink on the magnificent Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta. which was introduced by Ernest Wilson in 1908. This tree is quite possibly a plant grafted by Chenault.  Within the next week or two this plant will be smothered in large and vivid pink flowers.  It was a casualty of the great storm of l987 but has regenerated to continue to give a superb display almost every year.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Sprinkling of Snow

In spite of some freezing weather and
a dusting of snow there are more plants
in flower every day.

A walk round the garden today found
Camellia Alba Simplex
several camellias in flower including
Camellia japonica Alba Simplex.  A beautiful white with conspicuous golden yellow stamens.  One of the most beautiful camellias, the white flowers glow against the dark glossy leaves.  It is rare to find a perfect bloom as they  bruise easily.
Rh. Cornubia

Rhododendron Cornubia braving the snow.
A hybrid of R.arboreum 'Blood Red' and x Rhododendron Shilsonii it is a Penjerrick hybrid and said not to be the most hardy of plants but it is flourishing here at High Beeches.

Primula vulgaris
It is always good to find the first primrose in the garden.  There are more and more every year.

The garden is full of birdsong at the moment
and I spotted a flock of Long-tailed Tits in one
of the oaks
Long Tailed Tit

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

An early dull February day

There are several plants brightening
up a very dull damp February day.

After a few days of cold and frost, ice on the ponds and the Rhododendrons curling their leaves in protest, the weather has turned
warmer and misty.  Today it never really got light, the birches in the meadow looked eerie, but the first flowers in the garden were doing their best to brighten things up.

Rhododendron Bo Peep
Rhododendron Bo Peep, a hybrid                  (R. lutescens x R. moupinense) is always one of the earliest rhododendrons to flower.  It has pretty yellow flowers and  a loose habit.
Hamamelis x intermedia Pallida, one of the many witch hazels, with its large pale yellow flowers and strong scent is a superb winter flowering plant.  Hamamelidaceae is the family of nut bushes many of which flourish here at High Beeches in Sussex.  Most of them are good for autumn colour particularly Disanthus cercidifolius and Parrotia persica.
Another rhododendron usually to be found in
flower at this time of year is Nobleanum Roseum. It can flower before Christmas and
seems to cope with the frost.  The Nobleanum Group (R. arboretum x caucasicum) is one of the earliest hybrids raised by Anthony Waterer in 1832 at Knap Hill.  Rhododendron Nobleanum Venustum is also to be found flowering here at High Beeches brightening up the Tupelo Glade in the winter.

It was good to find some clumps of snowdrops coming into flower.  There are not many in the garden and perhaps there should be more.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

An early January Walk in the Garden

An Early January Walk in the Garden

Rh rirei

Liquidamber styraciflua 'Worplesdon'

Mahonia 'Lionel Fortescue'

Stuartia monodelpha
 A walk in the garden in the New Year is a time to reflect and think about what needs to be done. It is also an opportunity to escape from the admin. that has to be done for the new season.  Marketing, printing of new leaflets, volunteer rotas, new signage, Health and Safety requirements etc. all have to be attended to.  This year we are looking for customer
service volunteers to join our small team who run the gate lodge.

There are always plants to enjoy in winter.  High Beeches is not a winter garden but it is always good to find a Rhododendron in flower, Rh. rirei an Ernest Wilson introduction, and Mahonia x media 'Lionel Fortescue' both brighten up a dull day.

The seed pods of the Liquidamber make an interesting picture against a grey sky and it is good to see the bright berries of Sorbus hupehensis  another Ernest Wilson introduction.

The winter is also an opportunity to enjoy the bark of the ornamental trees.  Stewartia monodelpha has particularly striking orange
flaking bark. A very attractive tree flowering in summer, followed by good autumn colour, it is truly a tree for all seasons. Every garden should have one.
Sorbus hupehensis

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Early October

Disanthus cercidifolius
Acer micranthum

Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea macrophylla


Early October brings the vivid crimsons of
Disanthus cercidifolius a member of the Witch Hazel family, Hamamelidaceae.  A native of Japan, it prefers damp well drained soil and is happier in shade. 

Acer macranthum, a snake bark maple and another native of Japan with spectacular autumn colour, one of the best.  Here is it covered in its pretty pink seed or keys.

The hydrangeas are putting on a good display at the moment.  The paniculatas are all slowly
turning a delightful pink contrasting well with the macrophyllas.

Darmera peltata
Darmera peltata, umbrella plant, is starting to change colour particularly where it is in full sun.  A superb plant for a woodland and water garden.
It flowers in the spring, clusters of pale pink, on long stems before it comes into leaf.  The large leaves fill the ghylls in summer and turn red in autumn.  It has thick rhizomatus roots which help to stabilize the banks of the ghylls.  It is a native of the Western US and a good substitute for gunnera in smaller gardens.