Collecting the colossal in the garden at Cragside
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The collection at Cragside is a vast mass of plants not only in terms of numbers but also in their sheer physical size. Lord and Lady Armstrong directed the planting of seven million trees and shrubs across this dramatic landscape. It’s a passion they shared, taking a bare and barren hillside and creating a fantasy woodland garden in less than 40 years.
Conifers - native and exotic - are the backbone of this landscape. Great drifts of the billowing, crowned, bluey-green Scot’s Pine and the timeless, dark green Yew make up the native contingent. From North America, rocket-like specimens of which Cape Canaveral would be proud, dominate the tree-scape. They're startling; look out for:
- blue foliage of the Noble Firs
- windswept branches of Douglas Firs
- soft, spongy bark of the Wellingtonias
- Monkey Puzzles from Chile
- Spanish Fir
- Greek Fir.
The Rock Garden
You can see Rhododendron ‘Lady Armstrong’ growing on the rock garden, flowering her heart out in early June. Yes, it's named after our Lady Armstrong, raised by the famous nursery of Waterer's of Bagshot in Surrey c.1870.
The Armstrongs spent vast amounts of money on plants and these nurseries benefited greatly. No wonder the nurseries were prepared to name new hybrids after their most valued customers, when you consider the scale of planting at Cragside.
The Formal Garden
As if this great woodland garden wasn't enough, they created a horticultural jewel in the form of the Formal Garden. Plants from around the world are grown here - both tender and hardy - giving even more variety to an already colossal collection.
A garden of well engineered lines and formal designs, it still stimulates with the variety of foliage texture and an abundance of floral highlights throughout the seasons. In spring, brilliant bulbs bloom. In summer, it's an exotic extravaganza of tender treasures, which continue into autumn until the first frosts.
Topping it all, an Orchard House for all seasons was introduced as a cathedral to the culture of hardy and exotic fruits.