Every morning as I step out on to Battleston Hill, something different is coming into flower. Needless to say Battleston Hill is looking stunning at the moment! The rhododendrons are at their peak of flowering, and in every shade imaginable - they're really stealing the show. I'd never appreciated how scented many rhodies are; their sweet melon-like perfume fills the air on warm days.
Flamingos and handkerchiefs - the surprising beauty of trees
Another tree which is receiving a lot of interest is the Toona sinensis 'Flamingo', whose new leaves emerge bright pink before turning green in the summer. If the Toona leaves are caught with a blue sky in the background the effect is incredibly eye-catching.
The handkerchief trees (Davidia involucrata) at the bottom of Battleston Hill are at their best at the moment with their large white bracts hanging elegantly along the branches. You can find the last of the bluebells carpeting the shady areas beneath trees at the top of the hill and they look wonderful with the blue of the Ceanothus (Californian lilac) and purple Abutilon × suntense which have erupted into flower in the last few weeks.
Along the Mediterranean terraces the bearded irises and Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca have emerged and the orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) contrast beautifully with the various shades of blue provided by the Ceanothus. My favourite area this past week has been the wooden bridge at the end of the Mediterranean Walk, which is home to a Wisteria sinensis 'Prolific' which looks and smells fantastic. Although this alone is worth seeing, the magenta-purple of the two Cercis siliquastrum ‘Bodnant’ trees just beyond the bridge add a further feast for the eyes.
Summer is nearly here and all winter protection has been taken away from the Mediterranean terraces and Dell. As we uncovered the cacti and succulent terraces we discovered many succulent plants displaying their weird and wonderful flowers! In particular, Echeveria elegans, Beschorneria yuccoides and the bright red spires of Echium wildpretii.
We’re focusing on lots of planting in my area at the moment - the most memorable being the planting of 2,000 × Amarine 'Belladiva' bulbs a few weeks ago. A hybrid between Amaryllis and Nerine, these bright pink flowers will hopefully appear en masse this autumn and you’ll be able to find them at the top of Battleston Hill. We've also decided to replace the wildflower meadow on the bottom-most terrace of the Mediterranean section (which sits next to the Trials Field) by extending the plantings from the Mediterranean Walk above. Planting is scheduled to start this week. Busy, busy times, but the best of times too.
There's lots of developments happening on Battleston Hill and many plants are still looking their best, so do come and visit this vibrant area if you can!