An early March visit to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire – much to admire especially the Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) Collection …

That’s it I’m afraid – one large (albeit labelled) gallery – a pictorial tour of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire earlier this month (well, a walk around some of it, but most of that put under the camera lens)….

The Hamamelis collection I stumbled across was in very fine fettle, the highlight of my visit really and unexpected, since I’d already had quite my fill of these curious flowering shrubs much, much earlier in the year and had wrongly assumed the show to be over. Far from it, these specimens were in their prime, for the most part, colourful and varied and showing a great variety of form (tall, vase shaped, spreading). A very attractive living catalogue.

I missed only some of the cultivars being grown in these extensive grounds, but there was much else to admire – the heathers and fragrant viburnums, much decorative bark and coloured stem – and blue skies to boot (though there was a brief hail storm).

These gardens sit just north of Romsey in Hampshire and my plan was to take in Mottisfont too (for their burgeoning Winter Garden) but the weather turned decidedly chill and the prospect of more rain (sleet?) pushed me past the gates. Travelling cross country through some of the prettiest villages, I did make it up to Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, my first visit, and marvelled at this extensive site – and bought three little Semiaquilegia Australian Form and a wine-red Coreopsis – before picking up the M3 and heading home.

7 thoughts on “An early March visit to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire – much to admire especially the Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) Collection …

  1. I visited the Winter Garden there in February and found the planting scheme really inspiring. Some innovative use of Cornus. I was lucky enough to attend a tour with the Head Gardener and Robert and John Hillier were there too, which was really interesting. I plan to go and see the Hydrangea Avenue May/June time if I get the chance. Wisely is also on my to do list. Is there anything in particular I should see there when I go do you know?

    1. Thank for getting in touch and yes, the Winter Garden at the Hillier Gardens is possibly, probably one of the very best in the country – though Wisley has a lot to offer too, providing as it does a wealth of different landscapes and situations. The Glasshouse Borders, originally designed by Piet Oudolf, will be getting going and the alliums ought to be out in full force. The two rose gardens likewise, especially if you tip over into June, are special; one a traditional roses-only space, the more recent Bowes-Lyons garden a dramatic mix of roses and boldly-planted perennials. The long double herbaceous borders will be green and pleasant with some early colour coming through but like the Piet Oudolf borders, have a long way to go until they reach their zenith in the autumn. Head to the Trial Fields, which are presently in a wide gently sloping field behind Battleston Hill, as there is usually something in peak condition and it is a chance to see so many varieties of one kind of plant together, and to compare them – which is clearly the point of the exercise – I marvelled at the Sunflowers, Large flowered Clematis and Dahlias last year – sweet peas and delphiniums beforehand… You get the idea! Finally, the Plant Centre there, too, is a must to visit being one of the largest and most comprehensively stocked nurseries you are likely to see, so make sure you leave enough time in your day to call in here – there are so many joys in the gardens and such variety, it would be a pity to miss the garden centre for lack of time. Lucky you to have a tour with the Head Gardener at the Hillier Gardens and to meet Robert and John too. If you are spending time hereabout, perhaps check out the Savill Garden, a 35 acre garden within Windsor Great Park … Best wishes, Martin

      1. I don’t know his work but will look at your link – thank you for telling me – I rather like taking photos of bark and in doing so, look more closely at trees and find even more to admire and appreciate. A virtuous circle!

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