Exbury Gardens Visit

On Tuesday 9th May, 31 of us went by coach on this all-day trip to these stunningly beautiful gardens on what one of the Exbury management team claimed was the peak day of the entire year!  This had its downside in that 12 coaches arrived within half an hour of each other, producing a degree of chaos so that, although we had a reserved room for a very welcome coffee and cake, the promised introductory talk did not materialise and some members wandered off to do their own thing before we finally met up with our excellent designated guide who talked to the remaining 19 of us in the early stages of our tour.

The 200 acres of Exbury Gardens face onto the Beaulieu river and the Isle of Wight, and are dominated by very large camellia, rhododendron and azalea plantations.  The estate was bought by Lionel de Rothschild in 1919, who developed it over the next 20 years, laying down more than 20 miles of water pipes, drilling 3 Artesian wells and a water tower to ensure adequate irrigation.  Rothschild was particularly keen on hybridising azaleas and the gardens contain innumerable different varieties. It is very much a Spring garden and timing is therefore crucial.  This was a very early season, but colder weather in the previous two weeks meant that the rhododendrons and azaleas were still a riot of colour.  And the sun came out, adding an extra dimension to what is often considered the finest garden of its type in the UK….  Sadly none of these wonderful shrubs flourish in Cumnor because of our alkaline soil, but that made Exbury all the more exciting.


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