Sunday, 28 April 2013

Exbury Gardens and Fritillaries

Last year I was booked onto a trip to Exbury Gardens near Southampton. After a month of warm dray weather the weekend was stormy with heavy rain. Here is the posting I made. This year it has been cool and wet so there is quite a contrast between what was out in flower then and now. Last year it was azaleas, for which the gardens were famous, this year it was camellias and rhododendrons.

One of the first things we saw was a large flowered rhododendron.


And camellias too


The leader of the walk, a knowledgeable botanist, pointed out a number of interesting features. On some mature tree trunks lichens were prospering in the clean air.


He was able to point out some of the more unusual trees and shrubs. A Korean pine was coming in to flower with separate male and female 'cones'.

Korean pine

Here is another camellia, this one showing splashes and blotches, I think this is due to a virus.


One of the most striking plants was Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) on the banks of a lake.

Skunk cabbage,Lysichiton americanus

Despite of a lack of bright sun the views across the gardens were designed to impress.


Some very old rhododendron bushes form architectural shapes


The rhododendron flowers were impressive too.


Looking around for more unusual subjects in Spring time, I found this fern about to unfurl itself.


Some of the rhododendrons had huge leaves - each leaflet six inches long and with orange felt underneath.

rhododendron leaves

Here is one last rhododendron flower to end the quick tour of Exbury Gardens.



On the way back from Exbury I happened to pass close to the meadows at Stratfield Saye that I visited four weeks ago in the hope of seeing fritillaries in flower. I decided to check them out and I was in luck. Thousands of them were out in flower. There was a mixture of pure white, purple and a few that seemed intermediary - white with purple stripes.


The large carpet of them (with dandelions mixed in) was very impressive


The purple form shows the chequered pattern that gives them their name (Fritillus was the latin term for a dice-box which was chequered).


Another view of the mass of the flowers in the meadows


To end - a view upwards through the petals that are semi-transparent so you can see the chequering clearly.