Hughenden blossom watch
From the familiar delicate pinks of spring apple blossom to exuberant horse chestnut spikes in early summer, to welcome winter sweet box, there’s blossom through the seasons at Hughenden.
Over 50 varieties of old English apple trees and pears were planted in the orchard and walled garden forty years ago and they burst into beautiful blossom in late April and May.
The sheltered walled garden provides year-round warmth allowing a range of fruit to thrive with delicate spring blossom to enjoy. In a sheltered corner are quince and an old traditional English damson plum, around the walls are trained apricot and morello cherries.
Hughenden’s formal parkland was originally set out with lime, horse chestnut, walnut and sycamore, providing not only form and structure but food and shelter for insects, birds and bats.
One of Disraeli’s favourite trees, the Manna ash, features frothy bunches of creamy white blossom in May. The horse chestnut trees put on a spectacular show in late spring with spikes of white or pink flowers, called candles after their distinctive upright shape. And if you’re visiting in the summer, make a point of stepping out onto the south terrace of the Manor to capture the heady-scent from the pale yellow blossom of the Caucasian lime tree.
The west bank garden was created for winter interest and the sweet box, with its perfumed scent, is at its best in January and February. In spring, the early blossom of blue wattle, almond and magnolia trees stand out against the dark shades of the woodland path.
In the countryside, the trees and shrubs in woods, fields and hedgerows, provide vital pollen for bees, butterflies and beetles. One of the earliest wild blossoms is blackthorn, a thorny shrub with tiny white flowers that appear in early March, before the leaves. In April, native wild cherry trees come into flower, much paler than their cultivated cousins, but loved by bees. Hawthorn’s fragrant pinkish-white blossom follows in late April / early May.
Cherries in the Chilterns
For two hundred years cherry orchards were a familiar feature of the Chiltern’s landscape. In spring, the villages surrounding Hughenden were busy with visitors who flocked to see the peak of the pink blossom season on Cherry Sunday.
A tradition well worth re-creating? Take a moment to stop and take in the beauty of nature’s blossom show usually mid-Apr to May. Subject to the weather!