Every area of RHS Wisley garden in Surrey has ‘its moment’ some time in the year so it was with great intent that I set off last Sunday to take my annual tour around Battleston Hill, principally to look at magnolias.
Unsurprisingly for this spring, it was wet, but en route to Battleston Hill there were some enchanting cameos of little groups of plants glistening with raindrops, such as these charming little sanguinarias nestling by the wall beneath the alpine glasshouses.
And then these trilliums with their leaves washed clean.
We entered Battleston Hill from the top, through the collection of Mediterranean and subtropical plants where some truly impressive eucalyptus frame the path
Starting with the lower slopes nearest the A3 (thank goodness the RHS successfully fought off a planning proposal to remove the tree belt protecting the gardens from the roar of the traffic here) there were several specimens of the simple and unrefined species Magnolia kobus
Magnolia kobus probably grows into too big a tree to be accommodated in the average garden, but if you are lucky enough to have some wilder areas, where a tree can be viewed from a distance it creates a welcoming sight in early spring.
Moving back up and over the hill the magnolia specimens became ever more flamboyant, but again of a size that might prove challenging for smaller gardens.
However as we returned to main path running down towards the double herbaceous borders there were two more compacts specimens that might be more appropriate. The first was a hybrid, Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ which was bred in New Zealand, and produces large, dark coloured flowers on a relatively small tree.
The second was a variety of the commonly seen Magnolia stellata, whose star-like petals are normally pure white but in this variety ‘Jane Platt’ are a delicate shell pink.
Magnolias were not the only attraction on Battleston Hill, interspersed were many other early flowering woodland shrubs such as stachyurus and corylopsis
And the fresh young leaves of acers
Of course there were also a host of camellias and rhododendrons, but these were so numerous and diverse that they will need a whole blog of their own – perhaps when I take my annual trip round Battleson Hill next spring, but just as a taster I will leave you with one particularly striking specimen.