Looking good now
The sacred lotus has begun to flower in the Tropical Wetlands House
The sacred lotus has begun to flower in the Tropical Wetlands House
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Woodland Garden

Between the stream and the Lake, a dense woodland has been developed with a mixture of trees from around the world.
Several Wintersweets (Chimonanthus praecox) lure the visitor into the heart of the Woodland in the depths of winter with their exotic, lotus-like scent. Two Japanese Katsura Trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) provide spring and, particularly, autumn interest when the delightful, paired heart-shaped leaves turn shades of rich apricot and smoky pink, and emit an enticing caramel fragrance. The late-flowering Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus californica)from California is striking in July when it is smothered in a profusion of erect white inflorescences or ‘candles’, each with striking, bright red anthers. There are also fine examples of the Chinese Prickly-Ash (Zanthoxylum simulans) and the Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) which offers interest from the loose panicles of brassy yellow flowers through to the inflated seedpods of autumn.

The glades of this woodland area are richly planted with herbaceous plants. In the spring, before the leaf canopy develops, the beautiful unfurling leaves of the ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris arise like large shuttlecocks through a carpet of Anemone and Scilla. Epimedium, Primula and Erythronium also do well here. Later, boldly foliaged Rodgersia species with creamy flowers are striking. The soil is mulched with leaf mould to improve moisture retention.

Thanks to an In Memory gift, the understorey plants have been greatly bolstered with the emphasis on Northern hermisphere herbaceous plants. The most central beds are now geographically-planted to represent the woodland communities of North America, Asia and Europe. Some pan-Northern hemisphere genera, for example Actaea have different species planted for comparison in the different continental beds.

The Woodland Garden edge is also notable for superb groups of bamboos, some of the first ever grown outdoors in Britain over a century ago.