The Wild Garden in autumn at Sheringham Park
The 50 acres of Wild Garden at Sheringham Park houses a nationally important collection of rhododendrons. The garden developed around a base planting of Scots pine and oak, with the earliest plantings thought to date back to around 1850.
The most prolific of all plant collectors, Ernest Wilson is believed to have provided specimens that added extensively to the planting in the Wild Garden in the early 20th century, and the last private owner of the estate, Thomas Upcher, made significant additions up to his death in 1985.
The Wild Garden is now home to over 80 species of rhododendron and azalea, often providing colour from November to August with peak flowering occurring from mid-May into early June.
Two viewing platforms provide ideal vantage points from which to look down on a carpet of colour in late spring and early summer, and over the surrounding countryside at all times throughout the year.
Year round interest
Look out for two of our specimen trees in early autumn, the striking display of the golden larch can be short lived, but the change of the smooth Japanese maple is a far more gradual process and can be enjoyed for a number of weeks.
Veteran beech and oak trees will react to drops in temperature to provide a golden display in the garden, often coinciding with a colourful show of fungi.
The start of the rhododendron season is upon us, with at least a couple of species in flower throughout this period. Rhododendron Christmas cheer in particular provides extensive colour at the northern end of the wild garden.
Our close proximity to coast often provides protection against the worst of the winter frost, which creates ideal conditions post-Christmas for snowdrops and camellias to flourish.
The rhododendron display is a dynamic one, gradually building in colour to its late spring peak. An early spring species ‘rhododendron macabeanum’ with its large lemon coloured flowers tucked away from the path network is worth seeking out and you cannot miss the crimson-scarlet flowers of ‘rhododendron Doncaster’ one of our most photographed species along the main drive. You will need to look up at some of our taller specimens including the appropriately named rhododendron arboreum.
We also have a number of specimen trees flowering at this time - the handkerchief, pieris and snowdrop trees are of particular interest. Spread around the garden are fifteen species of magnolia to admire.
Patches of bluebells decorate much of the estate including the wild garden, and if you extend your walk into the parkland you will be rewarded with a display of buttercups and cowslips in late spring.
The rhododendron season draws to and end as summer approaches, but the brilliant white flowers of rhododendron polar bear are a fitting end to the display. Look out for our two Eucryphia trees along the main drive, which will add to your summer experience with their rose like white flowers. By August, we see the striking red berries appearing on the rowan trees - and the white berries on the Sorbus koehneana trees.
Ancient and remarkable trees
We have some special trees in the wild garden including one of the biggest Scots pine outside of Scotland and the larger of our two snowdrop trees is one of tallest specimens in England.
Ancient oak trees along the main drive may well have acted as boundary markers in the past and many of the beech trees are well over 200 years old including our wandering beech tucked away to the side of one of Repton's glimpse points.
A group of volunteers go out every Friday to work in the Wild Garden. They are currently working on cutting back rhododendron so we do not lose one of our visitor routes around the rhododendron collection.
Like to help out?