What to see in the garden
Spring is an exciting time for a gardener, as we spy on the rapid efforts of plants emerging from grass or bare soil, revealing fresh, perfectly untouched foliage and clean colours that hail the start of the season.
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.
Nymans has a fantastic collection of rare and unusual Magnolias, some of which were collected in China in the early 1900s by the renowned plant hunter, Ernest Wilson. This includes the magnificent Magnolia Sargentiana var.robusta on the tennis lawn. They are amongst the most primitive of flowering plants originating over 20 million years ago and, as such, have evolved to be pollinated by beetles rather than bees.
Every year in October and November we plant hundreds of tulip bulbs throughout the garden. April and May are the best time to view tulips here, and with some bulbs flowering early and some late there is a colourful display to be enjoyed for a number of weeks running. A few Nymans favourites, past and present, include the fresh and elegant Tulipa ‘Spring Green’, bright orange Tulipa ‘Cairo’ with its sunburst vibrancy, delicate double-flowered Tulipa ‘Angelique’ and coral pink, late-flowering Tulipa ‘Menton’. In the Sunk Garden this year three thousand lily-flowered Tulipa ‘Sapporo’ will burst into flower alongside an array of multi-toned wallflowers.
Nymans holds a nationally important collection of Rhododendrons, significant both for the large number of wild collected accessions and the quality of the plants themselves. The Messel family subscribed heavily to the expeditions of Ernest Wilson, Joseph Rock, Frank Kingdom-Ward and George Forrest throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Close friendships and rivalries with fellow Wealden gardeners drove much of their acquisition and one-upmanship may have been responsible for some of the more spectacular taxa we now grow! Nymans rhododendrons have traditionally enjoyed the conditions the garden offers with a fertile, free draining loamy soil and a mild climate.