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


Monday, 2 May 2016

Rhododenron Centenary

It is the RHS Rhododendron Camellia and Magnolia Group Centenary Celebration next weekend,7th/8th May at Wisley.

Rh. Florida Ogada

On Saturday the Telegraph had an article on the centenary 'Rhododendrons return to the fold' which said I quote 'Some of the most famous rhododendron gardens will be exhibiting:  Caerhays, Exbury, High Beeches and Savill Gardens'.  The article is about the Centenary Celebration when many of the famous Rhododendron gardens will be showcasing rhododendrons including the top 100 as voted for by members.

Rh. niveum

High Beeches will be exhibiting several Rhodododenrons including Rh. Florida Ogada a hybrid between Rh. sino grande and macabeanum, Rh. niveum and Rh. falconeri.  The competition will be tough and there are few classes but it is a chance to see some of the best Rhododendrons in the country exhibited by some of the greatest gardens in the country.

Rh. falconeri

Friday, 22 April 2016

Hot Air Engine


Hayward Tyler Hot Air Engine

This engine may possibly be the only engine of its type still in its original location.

In the garden is a small building which has always been known as the pump house.  It turns out that the engine in the pump house is a hot air engine which was used to supply the house with water from one of the ponds.  The engine was fuelled by logs from the estate and could be run by unskilled workers.  It is not known when the engine was installed but it probably dates from 1900 or earlier.  When Edward Boscawen bought the Garden in 1966 he discovered the pump house and realised that the Engine was of interest and restored the pump house which prevented further deterioration of the engine and enabled him to start work on the restoration.

 In 2013 local members of the Sussex Engine and Associated Machinery Society (SEAMS) took on the challenge of restoring the engine.  It is now successfully restored and can be seen running on certain days throughout the year - 23rd April, 2nd May, 19th June, 21stAugust and 16th October.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Early Rhododendron Show 2

An early start on Saturday morning although not as early as John from Exbury and Harvey from the  Savill Gardens who both had been up since 4 am.

I had the Rh irroratum 'Polka Dot' in near perfect condition as well as another piece of
Rh lutescens with me.  Some rearranging needed to be done, labels checked and the 'Polka
Dot' to be put in a vase and then time for a much needed breakfast whilst the judging is going on.
Daughter Alice joined me and we joined a group of fellow competitors for a chat.  We all agreed
it wasn't the best year especially for those showing magnolias.

A good display of hybrid Rhododendrons

Judging over and some nice surprises.  Very pleased with third prize in the four vases class, Exbury had a well deserved first.  In the Rhododendron classes Polka Dot had a first as did Rh. cilpenense and Rh. macabeanum x montroseanum.

Class for four vases of trees or shrubs in bloom of different genera

Rh. irroratum 'Polka Dot'
In total we were placed in 16  classes which gave us the highest total of points in the
South East Area.  A good day and very enjoyable.  Alice and I had time for a walk round
RHS Wisley before heading for home.  We will be back for the Rhododendron Centenary weekend on 7th/8th May.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Early Rhododendron Show

Its show time again.  The Early Rhododendron Show is on Saturday at RHS Wisley

This year is going to be challenging as there are not many Rhododendrons in flower yet, it is a late season for some.  A quick walk round the garden revealed Rh. macabeanum, Rh. irroratum, Rh Nestor, Rh. lutescens and Rh. Marie Curie.  It is disappointing to have so few to show this year and it will be interesting to see how everyone else is faring.  We are hoping for competition from Exbury, Savill Gardens, Isabella Plantation and some of the smaller gardens who always put on a good show.  The competition is tough but it is fun taking part and a great opportunity to catch up on what everyone else is doing.

Rhododendron Nestor
I will also be entering the class for four
vases of trees and shrubs in flower of
different genera.  We won this class last
year so a lot to live up to.

Rhododendron Nestor is a hybrid between
Rh thomsonii and Rh barbatum, raised by
Sir Edmund Loder.  It is a beautiful rich red, this photo does not do it justice. Its bark is
similar to Rh. thomsonii, reddish and flaking.
I was delighted to find it in flower as it is an
asset to the show bench.

Rhododendron Marie Curie is a hybrid between Rh. thomsonii x Rh. fortune and
Rhododendron Marie Curie
is a reddish pink in colour.  Again a striking

Rhododendron macabeanum is a magnificent
species and has made quite a large tree here.
The large trusses are pale yellow and purple blotched and some forms are a very good yellow.
It was introduced to this country by Frank Kingdom Ward from India in about 1928.  It is flowering well this year although the good yellow form has yet to flower, unusual as it is usually in flower by now.
Rhododendron macabeanum

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Aftermath of Storm Katie

Magnolia Charles Raffill
Storm Katie on Sunday turned out to bring the strongest gusts of wind that the garden has had this winter.

On Easter Monday it became obvious that there was a great deal of tidying up to do.  The ground was also sodden too, the paths had just started to dry out.  We decided to keep the garden closed to the public for another week giving us time to clear up and allow the paths to dry. 

The first job was to clear a beautiful
Eucryphia Nymansay off the drive along with a lot of other debris.  Eucryphia Nymansay is a form of E. x nymansensis a hybrid  of
E. cordifolia x E.glutinosa.  It is a small to medium sized tree and was raised across the valley at Nymans by James Comber in about 1915 Head Gardener to the Messels.

On down into the garden to find one of the oaks had fallen.  A lucky escape for two beautiful magnolias, M. Charles Raffill and
M. wilsonii, as it fell between them.  Clearing a tree of this size is a big task for a small staff of two.  Our chain saws weren't up to it and so Ben, a tree surgeon, was asked to come and give a hand.  The wood will have to stay on site until the ground dries out completely later in the summer.  Bringing in a tractor into the garden when the ground is wet only creates further problems.  The wood pile will be unsightly but gives us an opportunity to highlight one of the many challenges we have here.

Magnolia Charles Raffill is a hybrid between Magnolia campbellii and subsp mollicomata.  It was raised by Charles Raffill at Kew. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans/features/the-garden-at-nymans

Thursday, 10 December 2015

A splash or two of colour in the garden

Berberis and Pampas grass

Acer palmatum Corallinum

Taxodium distichum
There is still colour to be found on a walk around the garden at High Beeches in
early December.  A berberis provides a fiery backdrop to the pampas grass.

Acer palmatum Corallinum has held on to
some of it leaves as has Taxodium distichum
brightening a dull day.

Acer palmatum Corallinum, the coral bark maple, is a rare and distinct cultivar.

Taxodium distichum, the swamp cypress,
is a large deciduous conifer.  A native of the US, it was introduced to the UK by John
Tradescant in 1638.  It can be grown in wet soil but grows better on well-drained soil and thrives in dry sandy soil.  It has fibrous reddish brown bark and pretty feathery green foliage which turns reddish brown in autumn.  A long
lived tree and wind hardy.  The famous tree in
Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca in Mexico has the largest girth of any known tree, measuring
35.8m in 1982

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Magnolia Seed

Magnolia Alexandrina

Magnolia Charles Raffill
Magnolia Seed

It has been a good year for seed on the
Magnolias.  The exotic and strange shaped
pods are often pink and split open to reveal
bright red seeds.

Magnolia Alexandrina (Magnolia x soulangeana 'Alexandrina') a hybrid between
Magnolia denudata and Magnolia liliiflora,
 M. Alexandrina is a named form and one of the most popular of magnolias.  It is free flowering in April and the flowers are white and flushed purple at the base. It is a
small tree here at High Beeches.

Magnolia  campbellii var. campbellii x var. mollicomata  'Charles Raffill'.  A cross made by C P Raffill at Kew in 1946.  A vigourous tree with large flowers which are deep purple on the outside and white with a purple marginal flush on the inside.

Magnolia globosa

Magnolia grandiflora 'Goliath'
Magnolia globosa is a large shrub with nodding creamish flowers produced in June.  It was introduced by George Forrest in 1919
from China and first flowered in the UK
at Loch Inch in 1931.  It is closely related to
M. wilsonii and M.sieboldii and is not
particularly common in cultivation.

Magnolia grandiflora 'Goliath' has large white flowers almost a foot across and flowers throughout the summer into the
autumn.  One of the trees here at High Beeches was badly damaged in the storm
of 1987 but has now fully recovered.
The timber of Magnolia grandiflora (Southern Magnolia) is harvested in the US and used for among other things, furniture and veneers