The buds on the trees have burgeoned into acid-green leaves that gradually surround long-empty boughs like a cloak and herbaceous perennials shoot skywards with surprising energy and bulk out over bare earth. Late spring is a time of accelerated growth in the garden, when every day brings something fresh, something new to admire.
Originally planted by Muriel Messel between 1904 and 1915 and then developed further by Anne, Countess of Rosse, the spring borders in the Wall Garden were reintroduced to this popular part of the garden in 2017.
We’ve planted spring flowering plants known to have been popular in Edwardian times as informal drifts of whites, pale yellows, apricots, oranges and deep purples.
In 2017 over 3,500 spring bulbs were planted, 1,250 herbaceous plants, 400 ferns and a small collection of roses which may be trained or pegged at a later date.
The new borders will be mixed, featuring shrubs and herbaceous perennials with visible structure throughout the year, becoming most showy and colourful in springtime with “naturalised” planting within a formal bed setting.
Azaleas are in fact rhododendrons and comprise two distinct groups; small evergreen shrubs (up to 80cm) and larger deciduous ones (up to 150cm). Here at Nymans we have 28 of the 'Wilson 50' evergreen azaleas that were collected by E H Wilson in Japan and introduced in 1920; these can be seen growing int he curved beds on the drive.
Handy hint: you can tell azaleas from other rhododendrons because they have five stamens rather than ten.
Late May and early June when the sun is out, you can often smell the sweet perfume of wisteria at Nymans. Wisterias originate from China, Japan and the eastern United States. Depending on the species, they twine either clockwise or anti-clockwise and have long flower heads.
Wisterias have played an important part in the history of Nymans. The Japanese exhibition in London in 1903 started the fashion and the Messels were no exception to its impact. Ludwig Messel built the pergola by the croquet lawn where they would have room to spread. One variety is Wisteria floribunda multijuga (syn.m.macrobotrys). This variety carries extremely long flower heads, up to a metre in length.
Although some of the original plants may still exist at Nymans, there are some varieties where the origins are not known as records were lost in the fire of 1947. Some varieties also suffered in the storm of 1987 when the original pergola had to be demolished.
We are often asked about the care and maintenance of these striking plants. To prune, cut the current season’s long growth back to 5-6 buds from the base. This helps to prevent tangling and twining around other shoots. In February reduce the same growths back to 2 buds. This maintains healthy spurs and encourages larger flowers.
Today the wisterias at Nymans form a magnificent spectacle- we hope you enjoy their delicate fragrance and striking blooms as much as we do.
Coming soon in the garden
Watch out for our fabulous Rose Garden beginning to bloom in the next two weeks and the planting of the summer borders. Click on the links below to find out more.