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


Monday, 20 June 2016

Three June Magnolias

Three beautiful June Magnolias flowering in
Magnolia sieboldii
the garden.

Magnolia sieboldii is a shrub or small tree
with beautiful fragrant white flowers and numerous red stamens.  It is a native of South Korea and Japan and it is likely that it was introduced by Messrs Veitch around l879.
Magnolia liliiflora nigra

Magnolia liliiflora nigra has tulip like flowers which gradually open and are purple on the outside and creamy white on the inside.  It was introduced in 1861 by JG Veitch from Japan.

Magnolia hypoleucha

Magnolia hypoleucha, now obovata, is a large evergreen tree, sometimes 100 feet in height, with large scented creamy white flowers.  It is a native of Japan and was introduced in 1884. There are several large trees in gardens such as Savill Garden, Kew and Trewidden in Cornwall.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Wildflower meadow

The ancient, natural, acid wildflower meadow
at High Beeches is probably the best in the
south of England.  The meadow has been a meadow for at least 150 years and probably
for longer.  There are at least 45 wildflowers
and 12 grasses growing in the meadow all attracting a huge variety of insects.


Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Just some of the wildflowers in the Meadow at
the moment are Leucanthemum vulgare
(Oxeye Daisy), Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted-orchid), Listera ovata (Common Twayblade), Lotus cornicula (Common Bird's-foot-trefoil) and most importantly Rhianthus minor (Yellow Rattle).  Yellow Rattle is parasitic on grass which weakens the grasses and allows the wildflowers to flourish.  It is most often found in unimproved meadows.  This year there are
many Listera ovata, hard to spot among the grasses but an elegant member of the orchid family.

Verononica chamaedrys

Listera ovata

Rhianthus minor

The meadow is easy to manage here at High Beeches.  It is cut in late August and the hay removed and then the Heavy Horses from the Working Horse Trust harrow the meadow to remove the thatch and open the sward to help the wild flower seed to germinate.  Nothing is
added to it and some seed is taken off it to
spread the seed into an adjoining area.

The meadow changes throughout the day as the sun moves round, it gleams in the evening light and is cris-crossed with shadows.  It hums with insect life and is full of butterflies flitting from flower to flower, a thing of beauty.

For more information on wildflower meadows see Plant Life, Magnificent Meadows and Kew.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Rhododendrons Subsection Grandia

There are a number of Grandia Rhododendrons in the garden including Rh. sinogrande,
Rh. montroseanum and Rh. kesangiae.

Rh sinogrande is an old plant which doesn't always flower.  It has magnificent foliage, the leaves can be up to 80 cm long and are a dark glossy green with a silvery indumentum.  It flowers in April and the flowers are large trusses, creamy white in colour with a crimson blotch.  It was discovered by George Forrest in 1931 and comes from the Himalayas.

Rh. sinogrande

Rhododendron kesingae is another large plant rare in cultivation.  It has large glossy dark green leaves although not as large as Rh. sinogrande.  The flowers are large trusses of a deep pink, there is also a white form.  A relatively recent introduction from Bhutan and named after the Queen Mother of Bhutan. 

Rh kesingae
 Rh. montroseanum is another large leaved Rhododendron which is suitable for woodland gardens.  It has  long narrow leaves which are dark and glossy and silvery underneath.  It flowers in April/ May and the flowers are large and pink with a crimson basal blotch.  It was introduced in 1925 by Frank Kingdom Ward.

Rh. montroseanum

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Rhododendron Centenary 2

A great day for High Beeches. 

Friday was spent checking that nothing had been missed and then all the blooms were packed into boxes loaded into the cars and we were ready to leave for RHS Wisley.

The Rhododendron Camellia and Magnolia Group had been given a marquee for their Centenary Exhibition on the main lawn at Wisley.  The show was part of the Exhibition with the Centenary Cup for the best exhibit.  This was a different format from the usual Shows and everyone agreed extremely difficult to judge.  There were five classes, Species, Hybrid, Evergreen Azaleas, Deciduous Azaleas and one for the less hardy rhododendrons.  Russell, Eoin and I arranged our exhibits and headed home round the M25.  I went back out into the garden to look for another Loderi King George as I felt the one we had taken would not survive the night and Russell found a beautiful Rh. kesangiae to take with me the following morning. 

Early Saturday morning I was back on the M25 to Wisley to check our exhibits before judging.  Both the Savill Gardens, Exbury and Caerhays along with several other Group members were hard at work staging their exhibits and when all was finished it made a magnificent show.  We all then headed over to the CafĂ© for a much needed breakfast while the judging took place. 

The Rhododendron species show bench
Rh. White Glory and Rh. kesangiae

 Returning to the marquee I noticed that our Rh. kesangiae was missing from the bench and realised that it had won the species class, I then discovered Rh. White Glory had won the hybrid class but the Savill Garden took the Centenary Cup for the best in show with a stunning vase of
 Rh. Schlippenbachii

Winners of the Centenary Cup

Rh kesangiae

There are several plants of Rh. kesangiae in the
garden including the white form.  It is from
Bhutan and is named after the Queen of Bhutan.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Rhododenron Centenary

It is the RHS Rhododendron Camellia and Magnolia Group Centenary Celebration next weekend,7th/8th May at Wisley.

Rh. Florida Ogada

On Saturday the Telegraph had an article on the centenary 'Rhododendrons return to the fold' which said I quote 'Some of the most famous rhododendron gardens will be exhibiting:  Caerhays, Exbury, High Beeches and Savill Gardens'.  The article is about the Centenary Celebration when many of the famous Rhododendron gardens will be showcasing rhododendrons including the top 100 as voted for by members.

Rh. niveum

High Beeches will be exhibiting several Rhodododenrons including Rh. Florida Ogada a hybrid between Rh. sino grande and macabeanum, Rh. niveum and Rh. falconeri.  The competition will be tough and there are few classes but it is a chance to see some of the best Rhododendrons in the country exhibited by some of the greatest gardens in the country.

Rh. falconeri

Friday, 22 April 2016

Hot Air Engine


Hayward Tyler Hot Air Engine

This engine may possibly be the only engine of its type still in its original location.

In the garden is a small building which has always been known as the pump house.  It turns out that the engine in the pump house is a hot air engine which was used to supply the house with water from one of the ponds.  The engine was fuelled by logs from the estate and could be run by unskilled workers.  It is not known when the engine was installed but it probably dates from 1900 or earlier.  When Edward Boscawen bought the Garden in 1966 he discovered the pump house and realised that the Engine was of interest and restored the pump house which prevented further deterioration of the engine and enabled him to start work on the restoration.

 In 2013 local members of the Sussex Engine and Associated Machinery Society (SEAMS) took on the challenge of restoring the engine.  It is now successfully restored and can be seen running on certain days throughout the year - 23rd April, 2nd May, 19th June, 21stAugust and 16th October.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Early Rhododendron Show 2

An early start on Saturday morning although not as early as John from Exbury and Harvey from the  Savill Gardens who both had been up since 4 am.

I had the Rh irroratum 'Polka Dot' in near perfect condition as well as another piece of
Rh lutescens with me.  Some rearranging needed to be done, labels checked and the 'Polka
Dot' to be put in a vase and then time for a much needed breakfast whilst the judging is going on.
Daughter Alice joined me and we joined a group of fellow competitors for a chat.  We all agreed
it wasn't the best year especially for those showing magnolias.

A good display of hybrid Rhododendrons

Judging over and some nice surprises.  Very pleased with third prize in the four vases class, Exbury had a well deserved first.  In the Rhododendron classes Polka Dot had a first as did Rh. cilpenense and Rh. macabeanum x montroseanum.

Class for four vases of trees or shrubs in bloom of different genera

Rh. irroratum 'Polka Dot'
In total we were placed in 16  classes which gave us the highest total of points in the
South East Area.  A good day and very enjoyable.  Alice and I had time for a walk round
RHS Wisley before heading for home.  We will be back for the Rhododendron Centenary weekend on 7th/8th May.