11 months in the West Garden at Dyrham Park
Whether it's tulips or trees, bedding plants or borders, ponds or pristine lawns, the West Garden at Dyrham Park has something for everyone.
The garden is open for most of year, starting with weekends in February, and then Friday to Tuesday from March through to October. The property is open seven days a week in July and August. For November and much of December, the garden is open on weekends. Only in January is there no access to the garden.
After a month's rest, the West Garden reopens in mid-February and there are snowdrops everywhere. There are catkins on the Nut Walk and hellebores on the path to the Lower Pool and on the Servants’ Path.
Wildflowers are beginning to appear in the orchard: primroses, cowslips and fritillary. The early bulbs – tulips, scilla, aconites and crocuses – are putting on an impressive display. The white blossoms of the magnolias herald the arrival of spring and the camellias are coming into flower in the orangery.
If it's been warm enough, April would be the month to admire select displays of tulips in the garden and enjoy the scent of blue hyacinths (although a cold spring might see these and much else delayed till May). There are other treasures too, as swathes of daffodils bring the orchard to life and the walls of Fountain Court glow with the yellow of the small climbing rose, Rosa banksia, along with the purple of the stately wisteria.
Colour fills the garden now with roses, hardy geraniums, astrantias and thylactrum in the Avenue borders. Don’t miss several marvellous shrubs in flower: bladdernut down by the Lower Pool, Manna ash and a wonderful elderflower with deep pink flowers and fine purple foliage in the border beside the Lower Pool. Also worthy of mention is the beautiful Magnolia wilsonii flowering near the entrance to the Tea Garden.
The flower borders everywhere are bright with beautiful plants. It’s a delight to the senses to stroll along them admiring the variety of shape and colour. In the orchard, the wildflowers are at their best. Don’t miss the understated creamy blossom of the tulip trees and, in the shrubbery bordering the orchard, the glory of the Cornus kousa (dogwood) with its tiers of creamy flowers.
There's even more colour in the orchard now as the purple of knapweed and the blue of scabious join the white of oxeye daisies. The Indian bean tree has showy blossoms before its unusual bean-like seed pods appear. Some years the Indian rain tree at the entrance to Servants’ Path flowers in July. When the weather suits it, it makes a fine show with its clear yellow blossoms.
The main flower borders are bursting with colour. Down by the Lower Pool, the starry yellow flowers of Ligularia are but one of a number of beautiful blooms. By the west gate to Dyrham Park stands the most beautiful silver weeping lime. The scent of its flowers is a delight. Stand beneath it and enjoy the play of sunlight through the silver underside of its leaves.
The black mulberry by the Upper Pool is full of fruit. The early berries are appearing on the spindles. In the border below the Lower Pool the toad lily is in flower. Take time to admire the detail of this beautiful plant. A walk along the borders of the Avenue will allow you to admire the sedum, beloved of butterflies and bees, and the continuing fine display of the hydrangeas.
The beauty of seed heads predominates this month: rosehips, spindle berries and Ligularia seeds. There is autumn colour too: the red vine on the wall of the Servants’ Path with the pink of the winged spindle directly opposite. Passing the Katsura tree at the end of the Nut Walk, the smell of burnt sugar will surprise you as its leaves change colour.
There is still beauty in the garden. Stately grass seed heads catch the winter light in the Lower Pool borders and the bronze of the willows reflects in the still waters of Lower Pool. Different views of the garden can be enjoyed as the leaves disappear. You may, if you’re lucky, have the garden almost to yourself.
The frosts and low sun of December bring an almost magical quality to the peaceful garden. Bathed in winter sun, the ancient church of St Peter’s provides a splendid focal point to views across the two pools. Reflections in the Lower Pool light up the whole scene. There is also the first promise of spring, as catkins appear on the hazels lining Nut Walk.
Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers work all year round, come rain or shine, to make sure the gardens at Dyrham Park are always looking at their best. So whatever the season, you'll find something to inspire and impress.