Within the gardens there are many collections of plants. The large collection of Camellia numbers well over eight hundred different cultivars. These are grown in a large greenhouse as well as in various parts of the garden. Magnolias are a recent addition and there are over eighty, which are a stiking feature in March. Betula, Eucryphia, Eucalyptus, Rhododendron, Hosta and Iris are strongly represented in the garden.
There are three National Collections in the gardens which are looked after in association with Plant Heritage, formerly the N.C.C.P.G. (The National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens).
These herbaceous perennials occupy a large area by the middle lake as well as being planted by the streams. The moist soil provides ideal growing conditions for the 140 different kinds in the collection. Since we gained National Collection status in 1987 we have acquired many more and have been trying to confirm the true identity of several, as they are rather mixed up in commerce. We have worked together with the other collection holder of Astilbes, which is held at the Lakeland Horticultural Societys garden at Holehird near Windermere. Together we have established contact with people from around the world, who also have collections and have swopped plants andinformation and have succeeded in establishing as near a complete and correctly named collection as possible. A new web site devoted to the National Collections of Astilbes has been set up here.
A genus of herbaceous herbs related to onions and in the Liliaceae family. There are only 22 species and forms, all native of Africa, mostly the southern countries such as Tanzania Namibia and South Africa. There are also a few named cultivars which have been raised. This is easily done as the species readily hybridise when grown together. The best condition for growing them in the open is a hot, sunny position in well drained soil.
The Japanese Iris relishes moist soils, especially acid ones, so they have done well around the lakes and stream. In Japan they have been grown for many centuries by temples, as they were thought to be very important to the lives of the ancient Japanese. The original cultivars from Japan are 3 petalled flowers, but the newer forms from America have 6 or 9 petals in a wider range of colours and combinations. From the end of June and most of July is their flowering period and there are over 100 cultivars in the collection.