Exbury Gardens in its Glory

Exbury Gardens in Hampshire is a 200 acre of woodland garden, visited by many in April and May to see the magnificent Rothschild collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. The gardens were created in 1919 and this is their centenary year, marked by a new Centenary Garden.

Exbury Gardens has been on my ‘Must Visit’ wish list for quite some time and I finally crossed it off my list when I went on Tuesday with my local U3A Garden Group. We were blessed with sunny day and a pleasant breeze keeping us cool and making it comfortable to walk around.

Stunned with the kaleidoscope of colours from purple, crimson red, orange through to candy floss pink, my intention of taking lots of photos went by the board. With tiny gentle azaleas and big blousy rhododendrons, some with flowers the size of your head, it was like being in a sweetshop, not knowing what to do next.

It is easy when visiting a garden with specialist collections at certain times of the year to wonder what there might be to see throughout the rest of the year. Exbury has plenty to see including a herbaceous garden with beds carefully colour co-ordinated. Most of the tulips were over with one or two dark purple stragglers holding on fast. The alliums were opening along with a striking display of iris, made all the more colourful against the background of blue sky.

Once we got to grips with the map and worked out our bearings, we headed to the woodland area leading towards the Beaulieu River. I love ferns, especially when they are at their uncurling stage. These were tall, straight and eye catching.

Along the River Walk you could see the Beaulieu River through gaps in the trees. Many local sailors will know this river as it heads up to Butlers Hard, a 18th century shipbuilding village where ships for Nelson’s Navy were built. 

The tide was well and truly out, leaving a ribbon of the river with muddy banks. This impressive knobbly, wonky, branch deserved a photograph. Sadly you don’t get the true 3D effect of this view.

The most amazing, enormous, wisteria tree, although fading in colour, was a photo-stop for visitors with many sitting on the benches under the tree. We took a rest break at the outdoor cafe near the Sundial Garden which was also quite close to the new Centenary Gardens.

I can’t finish without including a few more photos of the rhodies, which is after all why we visited Exbury Gardens.

Finally, Acers also feature in the garden, some were lime green and one, in particular, caught my eye. If you look at it sideways had a wonderful bronze glow to its edges.

The gardens are open from 10:00am to 5:30pm and there is a steam railway around a small part of the garden and a buggy/bus for those with mobility difficulties. There are a couple of eating places and toilet facilities as well as plenty of places to sit through the garden for a picnic.