A hidden gem in the High Weald of Sussex, sensitively planted to enhance the natural landscape. A botanical treasure trove and classic English idyll make High Beeches one of the finest gardens in the South East


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Sprinkling of Snow

In spite of some freezing weather and
a dusting of snow there are more plants
in flower every day.

A walk round the garden today found
Camellia Alba Simplex
several camellias in flower including
Camellia japonica Alba Simplex.  A beautiful white with conspicuous golden yellow stamens.  One of the most beautiful camellias, the white flowers glow against the dark glossy leaves.  It is rare to find a perfect bloom as they  bruise easily.
Rh. Cornubia

Rhododendron Cornubia braving the snow.
A hybrid of R.arboreum 'Blood Red' and x Rhododendron Shilsonii it is a Penjerrick hybrid and said not to be the most hardy of plants but it is flourishing here at High Beeches.

Primula vulgaris
It is always good to find the first primrose in the garden.  There are more and more every year.

The garden is full of birdsong at the moment
and I spotted a flock of Long-tailed Tits in one
of the oaks
Long Tailed Tit

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

An early dull February day

There are several plants brightening
up a very dull damp February day.

After a few days of cold and frost, ice on the ponds and the Rhododendrons curling their leaves in protest, the weather has turned
warmer and misty.  Today it never really got light, the birches in the meadow looked eerie, but the first flowers in the garden were doing their best to brighten things up.

Rhododendron Bo Peep
Rhododendron Bo Peep, a hybrid                  (R. lutescens x R. moupinense) is always one of the earliest rhododendrons to flower.  It has pretty yellow flowers and  a loose habit.
Hamamelis x intermedia Pallida, one of the many witch hazels, with its large pale yellow flowers and strong scent is a superb winter flowering plant.  Hamamelidaceae is the family of nut bushes many of which flourish here at High Beeches in Sussex.  Most of them are good for autumn colour particularly Disanthus cercidifolius and Parrotia persica.
Another rhododendron usually to be found in
flower at this time of year is Nobleanum Roseum. It can flower before Christmas and
seems to cope with the frost.  The Nobleanum Group (R. arboretum x caucasicum) is one of the earliest hybrids raised by Anthony Waterer in 1832 at Knap Hill.  Rhododendron Nobleanum Venustum is also to be found flowering here at High Beeches brightening up the Tupelo Glade in the winter.

It was good to find some clumps of snowdrops coming into flower.  There are not many in the garden and perhaps there should be more.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

An early January Walk in the Garden

An Early January Walk in the Garden

Rh rirei

Liquidamber styraciflua 'Worplesdon'

Mahonia 'Lionel Fortescue'

Stuartia monodelpha
 A walk in the garden in the New Year is a time to reflect and think about what needs to be done. It is also an opportunity to escape from the admin. that has to be done for the new season.  Marketing, printing of new leaflets, volunteer rotas, new signage, Health and Safety requirements etc. all have to be attended to.  This year we are looking for customer
service volunteers to join our small team who run the gate lodge.

There are always plants to enjoy in winter.  High Beeches is not a winter garden but it is always good to find a Rhododendron in flower, Rh. rirei an Ernest Wilson introduction, and Mahonia x media 'Lionel Fortescue' both brighten up a dull day.

The seed pods of the Liquidamber make an interesting picture against a grey sky and it is good to see the bright berries of Sorbus hupehensis  another Ernest Wilson introduction.

The winter is also an opportunity to enjoy the bark of the ornamental trees.  Stewartia monodelpha has particularly striking orange
flaking bark. A very attractive tree flowering in summer, followed by good autumn colour, it is truly a tree for all seasons. Every garden should have one.
Sorbus hupehensis

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Early October

Disanthus cercidifolius
Acer micranthum

Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea macrophylla


Early October brings the vivid crimsons of
Disanthus cercidifolius a member of the Witch Hazel family, Hamamelidaceae.  A native of Japan, it prefers damp well drained soil and is happier in shade. 

Acer macranthum, a snake bark maple and another native of Japan with spectacular autumn colour, one of the best.  Here is it covered in its pretty pink seed or keys.

The hydrangeas are putting on a good display at the moment.  The paniculatas are all slowly
turning a delightful pink contrasting well with the macrophyllas.

Darmera peltata
Darmera peltata, umbrella plant, is starting to change colour particularly where it is in full sun.  A superb plant for a woodland and water garden.
It flowers in the spring, clusters of pale pink, on long stems before it comes into leaf.  The large leaves fill the ghylls in summer and turn red in autumn.  It has thick rhizomatus roots which help to stabilize the banks of the ghylls.  It is a native of the Western US and a good substitute for gunnera in smaller gardens.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A beautiful September Day

September in the Garden

The garden may not be as colourful in
September as it is in May or October but there
is still much to enjoy.  On a sunny day the garden is full of shadows and contrasts highlighting the many different types of foliage from the blue cedar, to the shiny leaves of Magnolia grandiflora and the early autumn colour of the Acers.

Speckled Wood
 It is good to see a few butterflies enjoying
the warmth of the sun.  There are quite a few
Speckled Woods and a Peacock or two to be found.

Abies koreana

Some of the conifers are in cone, one of the more prolific is Abies koreana, a Wilson
introduction from Korea.  A beautiful compact
pyramid shaped tree with blue cones.  They are
very sticky to touch.
Euonymous alatus

Many of the shrubs are covered in berries and seed pods.  Some of the strangest seed pods are to be found on the magnolias which are also covered in flower bud, looking promising for next year.

Euonymous alatus, the Spindle Tree, is covered in its attractive red and orange fruit.A deciduous shrub, a native of China and Japan.
Liquidamber styraciflua

Some of the trees are beginning to show their
autumn colour.  The Nyssas, Liquidambers and Parrotias all are showing signs of red and the Disanthus cercidifolius are already a deep red.  A member of the Witch Hazel family,
Hamamelidaceae, and a great asset to the early autumn garden.  It is not the easiest to grow but seems to like it here.

Monday, 15 August 2016


Just a few things to see in the garden
in August.
 Pinus montezumae is in cone.  A native of
Southern and Central Mexico with grey green leaves which look not unlike a chimney sweepers brush.  A beautiful tree which is not reliably hardy although it is growing well here. 

A Brown Hawker, one of the many dragonflies at High Beeches.  A common dragonfly in the South East of England mostly found close to well vegetated ponds. http://www.webjam.com/bdssx

The beautiful Aesculus parviflora is in flower.
A native of the S E United States introduced by John Fraser in 1795.  It is free flowering in July/
August and colours well in the Autumn.

It is always good to find the pretty Wahlenbergia hederacea  (Ivy-leaved Bellflower) flourishing in the garden.  It is a trailing perennial
of damp, shady ground.  It is much more common in the South West
and Wales.  The ivy shaped leaves are carried on long stems and its
delicate flowers are to be seen in July/August.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016



Silver Washed Fritillary
At this time of year the meadow and garden are
alive with butterflies.  The meadow attracts
Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Common Blues
and Skippers.  In the garden there are Speckled
Woods, Marbled Whites, Large Whites,
 Clouded Yellows, Silver Washed Fritillaries
Red Admirals, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Commas and possibly Painted Ladies too.

The garden butterflies are particularly fond
of Leptospermum.

For more about Sussex butterflies


Red Admiral