Exbury’s 200 acre woodland garden in the New Forest is renowned the world over for its unrivalled collections of spring and early summer flowering trees and shrubs.
But many visitors to the garden miss the hidden horticultural treasures at the heart of Exbury, making the gardens a joy to explore right through the summer.
Tucked away next to the Mediterranean-style tennis court tea garden (itself a lovely spot with its planting scheme of cool lemons, greys and blues) is the exotic and secluded ‘Sundial Garden’.
Push open the gate and you are in a world of colour and light, with bright salvias, dahlias, verbena, tigridias, cannas and other sun-loving perennials.
At the far end is a cool shaded arbour framed by an ancient wisteria. The mirror-planting means this is the perfect place to relax and ‘reflect’.
Just a stroll away from this beautiful garden is the famous view across the Beaulieu River – recently opened up to reveal its full vista – and a walk along its banks to the shaded View Point with seats and the sight of small boats travelling to and from the Solent.
Not too far away and within sight of Exbury House, the herbaceous borders – full of shape and colour throughout the year – are an interesting stopping off point on the way to the Five Arrows Gallery which has changing exhibitions of art, sculpture and plants throughout the year.
Then there’s the fantastic Hydrangea Walk, a pathway lined with the colour of hundreds of blue and white plants, leading to the Jurassic boardwalk, a mysterious swampy area with ancient plants and wildlife including frogs, damselflies and dragonflies.
Walk over the boards across the boggy swamp to the Jubilee Pond where you might see a kingfisher or swallows swooping low over the water. You’ll certainly catch glimpses of ancient and enormous carp moving through the peaceful waters.
Those who take the Exbury Garden Railway are in for a treat as they see a part of the garden that other visitors don’t reach. The steam engine pulls its carriages through the Summer Lane Garden, planted in a naturalistic style with grasses and flowing ribbons of hardy herbaceous plants, trees and shrubs.
“There is so much at Exbury that many visitors miss,” said head gardener John Anderson, who prepares a regular blog on the Exbury website describing the best that the Gardens have to offer at any given time.
“There are many hidden secrets here that make Exbury a delight whatever the season. We’re looking forward to a busy summer – with a new Children’s Play Area and the New Forest Tour and Beach Bus calling into the Gardens throughout the summer holidays, Exbury has never been more accessible or offered more for visitors at this time of year.”