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


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Early Rhododendron Competition

High Beeches took part in the Early Rhododendron Competition at Wisley last weekend.

Competing in the RHS Shows is challenging but hugely enjoyable and High Beeches had a successful show with a number of firsts.  We usually do better in the classes for species rather than hybrid rhododendrons and this year was no exception. One first in the hybrid section, six firsts in the species section and the garden was awarded the John Fox Plate for the largest number of points gained overall in the South East Group.

Magnolia stellata, Illicium anisatum, Camellia R.L.Wheeler, Rh. arboreum x repens
  Our prize winners included Rhododendron Florida Ogada, Rh. neriflorum, Rh. luteiflorum, Rh. irroratum 'Polka Dot' and Rh. racemosum.   We were also successful in the class for 'Four trees or shrubs of different genera, one vase of each' winning it with Camellia R.L. Wheeler, Rh. arboreum x repens, Magnolia stellata and Illicium anisatum.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


The magnolias are looking superb at High Beeches.

Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta one of the most beautiful of Magnolias was discovered by Ernest Wilson in 1903, although he never saw it in bloom, and named after Charles Sargent, Director of the Arnold Arboretum. Most of the older trees came from Chenault of Orleans, this is one of them. In l997 this tree was a casualty of the great storm. The decision was made to cover the root ball with top soil and to wait and see what would happen. The tree put out new shoots and although it is not quite the tree it was prior to 1997 it still flowers all over, a truly magnificent sight.

Magnolia campbellii var.campbelli x var.
mollicomata. A cross made by C Raffill of Kew
in l946, seedlings were distributed to a number
of gardens in 1948. The clone Charles Raffill
is a fine tree.

Magnolia campbellii Lanarth a striking form
of subsp. mollicomata has very distinctive deep
pink flowers.  A native of Yunnan introduced
by George Forrest in 1924.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Three early red Rhododendrons

Some early red  Rhododendrons
are starting to flower in the garden
at High Beeches.

Rhododendron barbatum
Rhododendron barbatum
(Subgenus Hymenanthes,
Subsect. Barbata).  A beautiful, large
shrub with coloured stems and reddish
flaking bark. The flowers are a vivid
deep scarlet carried in dense heads and
appear in March, one of the first
Rhododendrons to flower here at High Beeches.  A native of Nepal, Bhutan and northern India

Rhododendron spinuliferum

Rhododendron spinuliferum
Subgenus Rhododendron, Subsect. Scabrifolia)
the firecracker flower.  An unusual early
flowering rhododendron discovered by
Abbe Delavay and introduced in 1907.  The flowers are red, tubular with protruding stamens. It has been used in
Chinese medicine to treat asthma.

Rhododendron x Nestor
Rhododendron x Nestor
(barbatum x thomsonii) a beautiful red
hybrid raised by Sir Edmund Loder.

Garden opens for the Spring
Saturday 28th March

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Three beautiful Camellias in flower at
High Beeches Garden

Camellia japonica 'Adolphe Audusson'
Camellia japonica is a native of Japan and Korea.  Camellias are not native plants of China
although they have been grown there for
a long time as a garden plants.   They were
first introduced to Europe at the beginning
of the eighteenth century and originally
camellias were thought not to be hardy in England but the severe winter of 1928 proved otherwise.

There are now great number of cultivars.
Camellias are magnificent evergreen flowering plants some of which can reach up to 30 or
40 feet in height.  Without overhead shade the
flowers can be susceptible, in spring,to wind
and frost damage.
Camellia x williamsii 'J C Williams'

Camellia  japonica 'Adolphe Audusson'
has red semi -double flowers and is
very vigorous.

Camellia x williamsii a hybrid between
japonica and saluenensis first raised by
J.C. Williams at Caerhays Castle in
about 1925.  One of the first cultivars
to be raised was named 'J.C. Williams',
pink, single and one of the most free
flowering of the camellias.
Camellia japonica 'tricolor'

Camellia japonica 'Tricolor', a single or
semi-double flower varying from white
with carmine streaks to pink with white
streaks.  It is a very reliable plant, free,
flowering and of spreading habit.

Garden reopens to visitors on 
Saturday 28th March

Monday, 23 February 2015

The view from the Colonel's seat - Before and After

Winter in the garden brings one of the
longest jobs for the gardeners.  When all
the leaves are off the trees they have to
be cleared, either raked up or blown on to the beds.  When the job is down the garden looks
tidy and the moss glows in the winter sunlight.

The fallen leaves are important to the garden
as they provide mulch on the beds and they
are also blown into the gills (streams) to help
slow down the flow of water.   In recent years,
although the volume of water has not
increased, the amount of water flowing through the garden has increased at any one time.
This causes erosion of the gill banks and
in some places is undermining the bridges.
The only solution seems to be to slow down the
flow of water.

Mulch is important to feed, protect the plants
and retain water in the summer.  After the big
storm of l987 the garden lost a great deal of
its overhead cover and so produced less
mulch and for the first time we had to start
buying it in.

To take a break from the monotomy of
clearing leaves some planting has been done
along with a considerable amount of
pruning.  Clearing the prunings is a challenge
here as it is not possible to bring machinery
into the garden during the winter as the ground is too wet and the paths would be damaged.
 The gardeners either chip or drag everything to
 bonfire sites outside the garden.
 You need to be fit to work here!

Garden reopens on Saturday 28th March.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Flowers in December

I can always find a dozen plants in flower in the garden on Christmas Day but was surprised to find many of them already in flower this year.

A very early primrose enjoying the warmth.

Rhododendron Yellow Hammer, a hybrid rhododendron which delights throughout the year. 

A number of other rhododenrons also have a smattering of flower.

Mahonia japonica, the Japanese Mahonia, beautifully fragranced, an asset for the winter garden.
Hamamelis mollis, the chinese witch hazel, already showing colour.  The flowers produce a glorious scent in the winter sunshine.

I also found flower buds on Magnolia grandiflora Goliath. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

End of Season

Betula utilis with Nyssa sylvatica in the back ground

The end of the season is always a time for reflection.  We miss our visitors but at the same time we have space to plan for the next season.
Planting will be going ahead in the next few weeks mainly out in Tank Meadow, where Russell and Balint will be planting two small copses and a number of specimen trees.  Two more Prunus will be added to the exisiting collection along with three Betula costata.  The plan is to add to the autumn colour already there provided by two young Nyssas and three
Carpinus with another Carpinus and an Acer Sacchrum.  The Prunus have also been chosen
with autum colour in mind.
Acer palmatum and Magnolia grandiflora, top right
Some of our visitors this year have been very complimentary comparing High Beeches to Sheffield Park.  Thank you to all of you who have visited and enjoyed the garden this year.

I took these photos today with the exception of the fourth which was taken a week or two ago.
There has been heavy rain in the last 24 hours but the sun came through just before the light started to go.  There was a beautiful sunset.
Miscanthus sinensis malepertus

The Garden will be open from 28th March until 1st November, 2015, 1pm - 5pm every day except Wednesdays.  Coaches welcome by appointment at any time.

A particularly good Acer seedling, Sorbus sargentiana, Pinus Montezuma with a background of Fagus sylvatica