11 April 2019

4 beautiful flowers to see at Wakehurst this spring

Spring has sprung at Wakehurst and our flowers are putting on a beautiful show. Here are our top picks across the gardens for April and May.

By Colette Barnes

Spring bulbs 

Crocuses are springing up across the gardens in beautiful shades of purples, yellows and whites. 

Check out the Iris reticulata ‘Joyce’ which is looking stunning on the rock bank, as are the Narcissus cyclamenius. Head to the Iris Dell to see them en masse. 

The Walled Garden is springing to life. Look out for our stunning tulips - this year we have white and purple cultivars 'Purple Price' and 'Candy Prince'. 

Visit Wakehurst later in the summer to see the deep violet-blue flowers of ‘Lady Eve Price’ (Camassia leichtlinii). This pretty plant was actually named after the wife of the last owner of Wakehurst, Sir Henry Price. 

Crocus at Wakehurst
Crocus, Wakehurst, Jim Holden

Bluebells

Over the winter, the garden team have been busy cutting back the herbaceous layer in the woodlands, to make way for the spring show of bluebells.

You can see the bluebells in all their glory in Bethlehem Woods and Horsebridge Wood, and also in Westwood Valley. They will be at their best in late April to early May. 

Bluebells at Wakehurst

Magnificent magnolias

We have a large collection of magnolias that are in flower from now until summer, including the delicate Magnolia stellata (the Star Magnolia) and Magnolia campbelli (Cambell's Magnolia) which has stunning pink petals. 

Wakehurst is also home to endangered Magnolia rostrata, which originates in China and the Himalayas. This plant is categorised as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and wild populations are in decline from habitat loss.

This striking plant has huge leaves, which can grow up to 50cm long. Look out for their large white flowers which open in June. 

Rhododendrons

Wakehurst inherited a magnificent collection of rhododendrons from one of its previous owners Gerald Loder, which has been added to by RBG Kew over the years.

Our Rhododendron Collection is globally significant, containing over 1800 plants. Of these, 300 are threatened in the wild.

The Tony Shilling Asian Heath Garden and Westwood Valley contain the main display of rhododendron, which start blooming around April/May and will bloom well into the summer. 

Our top picks include:

  • Rhododendron ‘Praecox’. This grows by the mansion pond and has dainty pink flowers. 
  • Rhododendron arboretum – of which we have a large number, including interesting subspecies, such as Rhododendron arboretum subsp. cinnamomeum. This subspecies has a lovely cinnamon-coloured underside to the leaves. 
  • Rhododendron ‘Loderi King George’. This group was named for George Loder’s brother, Sir Edmund Loder, who owned the nearby Leonardslee Gardens where he bred these hybrids.

Watch spring unfurl at Wakehurst 

Redwoods, Horsebridge Wood, Wakehurst Ellen McHale/RBG Kew

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Explore our wild botanic garden in Sussex, with 500 acres of ornamental gardens, woodlands and a nature reserve.

Visit Wakehurst