Autumn Treasures at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens9th October 2018 • Places to Visit • Stephanie Donaldson
After an amazing summer, autumn seems determined to compete. A group of garden journalists, including myself, were fortunate to take a guided tour of the Hillier Gardens with head gardener, David Jewell and the one-man plant encyclopaedia Roy Lancaster. Roy regaled us with tales of virtually every plant we saw, so progress was slow but hugely entertaining.
It is always exciting when you see something you’ve never seen before. The star was a tree called Cyclocarya paliurus, commonly known as the wheel wing nut because of the circular wing around the small nut. Apparently it has never looked finer – I loved the way the light illuminated the wheels. I was also smitten with an incredibly shaggy birch Betula albosinensis ‘Bowling Green’ that was looking wonderful as the low sunlight illuminated the bark.
One of the highlights of the vast Centenary Border was Miscanthus nepalensis – it looks like it has been dipped in gold at this time of year. Although not hardy in colder areas, it stays relatively compact, so is definitely worth a go if you think you can get away with it.
I’m not sure I have ever come across this clematis before, but my, it is a beauty – fragrant and as flower smothered as any I have ever seen. It something that takes a bit of finding, but I reckon it’s well worth the hunt.