Hergest Croft Gardens extend over 28 ha (70 acres) with more than five thousand rare trees and shrubs. Described as "one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in the British Isles", the Gardens hold the UK National Collections of Maples, Birches and Zelkovas. The six distinct areas are Hergest Croft, the Azalea Garden, the Maple Grove, the Kitchen Garden, the Park and Park Wood.
Hergest Croft is surrounded by a wide range of plants including many tender specimens. The lower terrace border is filled with white galtonias and blue agapanthus. The lawn was originally a double tennis court, and the Croquet Lawn, enclosed by a large yew hedge, contains vases of sweetly scented lilies in summer. The benches on the lawn and in the Croquet Lawn are from gold-award-winning Chelsea Flower Show gardens. The large Rockery has recently been renovated. The sculpture of a fir cone by Joe Smith forms the centrepiece of the Slate Garden, which is formally edged with five species of box. As well as the many rare trees, there are also extensive collections of hydrangeas, peonies and philadelphus amongst other shrubs.
The Azalea Garden is dominated by a massive avenue of blue cedars planted in 1900. Spectacular azaleas combine with a huge range of exotic champion trees. The avenue is carpeted with daffodils in spring. Look out also for one of the UK's largest specimens of the rare "Paper Handkerchief" tree, Davidia involucrata.
From 1985 this area was planted with new and re-introduced species following the re-opening of China to western plant collecters, many of whom are friends of the family, including Roy Lancaster and Chris Brickell. Many of these species are the only ones growing in the UK. At the top of the Maple Grove is the Millennium Seat carved by Jim Partridge and Liz Warmsley out of an oak trunk that fell in the Park in 2000. From here there are spectacular views across the surrounding countryside to the Malvern Hills and May Hill in Gloucestershire.
The Kitchen Garden contains a traditional vegetable and fruit garden with many rare varieties. The Spring Border, full of bulbs, lies under a avenue of ancient apple trees, Next to it is a long double herbaceous border, originally planted in the early 20th century. There are iris borders and a collection of English and old fashioned roses.
Park & Haywood Common
Exotic planting melts imperceptibly into the countryside with specimen trees framing the view from the garden down to Hergest Court. Most of the trees are planted in single family groups including oaks, ash, and maples, with many rare examples.
Park Wood lies some half a mile from Hergest Croft through the Park which is full of specimen exotic trees and well worth a look on your way. Park Wood has a secluded valley hidden deep within an ancient oak wood containing over 12ha (30 acres) of giant hybrid and species rhododendrons and exotic trees. These create a Himalayan scene that will surprise and amaze you.
Stephen Lloyd, who started work in the garden in 1980, is Head Gardener. He has three colleagues Robert Price, Rowan Griffiths, and Kristie Legg, that work with him. Mark Barrett is responsible for Park Wood.
Spring (March to April)
Meadows of blue scillas and snowdrops herald the start of spring. These are followed by white, yellow and trumpet daffodils spread all over Hergest Croft Garden. Many other bulbs have naturalised in the Rockery and elsewhere. Primroses and Forget-me-nots flower amongst the bright tulips in the Spring Border. The tree magnolias are full of large pink, carmine and white flowers. The delicate bells of species rhododendrons flower and the first flush of the leaves on the exotic trees are a tapestry of different colours and textures.
Summer (May to August)
The brilliant azaleas are a blaze of yellow, apricot, pink and orange. Huge hybrid rhododendrons over 9m (30ft) tall are completely covered in large pink, red and white blooms over carpets of bluebells in Park Wood. The vibrant red oriental poppies begin the summer radiance in the double Herbaceous Borders. Old fashioned roses flush next to the beds of perpetual English Roses. The wide varieties of hydrangeas show their enormous heads of blue, pink, and white flowers.
Autumn (September to October)
The dazzling autumn colour of the collections of maples and birches is breathtaking. Red, yellow, purple and gold leaves glisten throughout the Azalea Garden, Maple Grove and Park Wood. The trees in the Park have glowing autumn colours.
This list give you an indication of the range of plants that can be seen throughout the year. Please ask at Reception for what is looking good in the gardens.
|What to see||When to see it|
|Blue Scillas, Crocus||March|
|Daffodils, Camellias Magnolias, early flowering Japanese cherry||March, April|
|Rhododendrons||March, April, May, June|
|Herbaceous Borders||March, April, May, June, July, August, September||Something of interest all year round|
|Michaelmas Daisies, Japanese Anemones||September|
|Peonies, Tree Peonies||May, June|