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, 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

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Dragonflies and Damselflies

Emperor  Dragonfly

 Dragonflies and Damselflies

There are many Dragonflies and Damselflies
in the garden at the moment.

The Common Blue Damselfly is easy to spot
as is the Large Red Damselfly around the
margins of the ponds.  The less common
White-legged Damselfly can be seen along with the Banded Demoiselle with its metallic sheen and smoky wings.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
The beautiful blue Emperor Dragonfly can be seen flying over the ponds along with the
Golden-ringed Dragonfly and the Common

British Dragonfly Society
White- legged Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly

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.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Early Rhododendron Show

Its show time again.  The Early Rhododendron Show is on Saturday at RHS Wisley

This year is going to be challenging as there are not many Rhododendrons in flower yet, it is a late season for some.  A quick walk round the garden revealed Rh. macabeanum, Rh. irroratum, Rh Nestor, Rh. lutescens and Rh. Marie Curie.  It is disappointing to have so few to show this year and it will be interesting to see how everyone else is faring.  We are hoping for competition from Exbury, Savill Gardens, Isabella Plantation and some of the smaller gardens who always put on a good show.  The competition is tough but it is fun taking part and a great opportunity to catch up on what everyone else is doing.

Rhododendron Nestor
I will also be entering the class for four
vases of trees and shrubs in flower of
different genera.  We won this class last
year so a lot to live up to.

Rhododendron Nestor is a hybrid between
Rh thomsonii and Rh barbatum, raised by
Sir Edmund Loder.  It is a beautiful rich red, this photo does not do it justice. Its bark is
similar to Rh. thomsonii, reddish and flaking.
I was delighted to find it in flower as it is an
asset to the show bench.

Rhododendron Marie Curie is a hybrid between Rh. thomsonii x Rh. fortune and
Rhododendron Marie Curie
is a reddish pink in colour.  Again a striking

Rhododendron macabeanum is a magnificent
species and has made quite a large tree here.
The large trusses are pale yellow and purple blotched and some forms are a very good yellow.
It was introduced to this country by Frank Kingdom Ward from India in about 1928.  It is flowering well this year although the good yellow form has yet to flower, unusual as it is usually in flower by now.
Rhododendron macabeanum

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Aftermath of Storm Katie

Magnolia Charles Raffill
Storm Katie on Sunday turned out to bring the strongest gusts of wind that the garden has had this winter.

On Easter Monday it became obvious that there was a great deal of tidying up to do.  The ground was also sodden too, the paths had just started to dry out.  We decided to keep the garden closed to the public for another week giving us time to clear up and allow the paths to dry. 

The first job was to clear a beautiful
Eucryphia Nymansay off the drive along with a lot of other debris.  Eucryphia Nymansay is a form of E. x nymansensis a hybrid  of
E. cordifolia x E.glutinosa.  It is a small to medium sized tree and was raised across the valley at Nymans by James Comber in about 1915 Head Gardener to the Messels.

On down into the garden to find one of the oaks had fallen.  A lucky escape for two beautiful magnolias, M. Charles Raffill and
M. wilsonii, as it fell between them.  Clearing a tree of this size is a big task for a small staff of two.  Our chain saws weren't up to it and so Ben, a tree surgeon, was asked to come and give a hand.  The wood will have to stay on site until the ground dries out completely later in the summer.  Bringing in a tractor into the garden when the ground is wet only creates further problems.  The wood pile will be unsightly but gives us an opportunity to highlight one of the many challenges we have here.

Magnolia Charles Raffill is a hybrid between Magnolia campbellii and subsp mollicomata.  It was raised by Charles Raffill at Kew. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans/features/the-garden-at-nymans