Did you know?
- The Douglas fir takes its name from plant collector David Douglas, who explored North America on behalf of the Royal Horticultural Society in the 1820s. He first encountered the tree that came to bear his name while exploring around the Columbia River, noting the conifer “exceeds all trees in magnitude. I measured one lying on the shore of the river 39 feet in circumference and 159 feet long; the top was wanting … so I judge that it would be in all about 190 feet high”.
- Wakehurst’s strategy of grouping collections of plants according to their geographic origins was influenced by the eminent Russian botanist Armen Takhtajan. Such ‘phytogeographic’ clustering helps concentrate conservation work on areas with the greatest diversity of unique plants.
The Himalayan Glade lies in a deep cleft on the north side of the Westwood Valley. The valley is a showcase for Wakehurst’s collection of Asian plants, with the Glade itself representing the mountain flora of the Himalayas and China. The valley sides are defined with blocks of Ardingly sandstone, among which grow cotoneasters and berberis. The latter display brightly coloured scarlet leaves in autumn. A seasonal stream flows down the centre of the Glade, beside which grow polygonums, euphorbias and ginger lilies.
Things to look out for
Visitors are rewarded with great views across the Himalayan Glade from the viewpoint on its eastern side, south of the Pinetum. From the two viewing platforms on the eastern and western sides of the Himalayan Glade, and also from the stone seat on the opposite side of the valley, it is possible to see Wakehurst’s tallest tree, a handsome Douglas fir (Psedotsuga menziesii). Standing 43 metres high, the first branches appear 27 metres up the trunk. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the bird feeders that hang within the viewing area as coal tits, marsh tits and nuthatches are frequent visitors.