Broadleigh Gardens spring visit

 In Bulbous plants, Bulbs, Corms, rhizomes,etc, Gardening, Gardens Visited, tubers

Broadleigh Gardens is an impressive place! It specialises in growing and supplying superior garden bulbs and is situated just west of Taunton in Somerset.

I visited the garden with the Professional Horticultural Group in late March this year and there was much to see!

A little background

It’s always nice to be met by the garden’s owner and to hear what bulbous gem is looking at it’s best at the moment. Lady Christine Skelmersdale has created this garden with her late husband and started it in 1971.

There was no garden when they arrived and cattle grazed right up to the front door. Now there is a delightful spring garden full of interesting bulbs planted among choice shrubs, trees and hardy perennial plants. Bulbs form South Africa are a specialism ensuring that the colour is maintained well into autumn.

Originally the couple grew the Alec Gray collection of dwarf daffodils and these are still maintained as a National Plant Collection.

Most notable among these is of course that stalwart ‘Tete a Tete’ which dominates the dwarf daffodil market.


The Nursery

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Paeonia mokosevetschii seedlings

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Less hardy bulbs in tunnels

The nursery wraps around two sides of the garden which is ‘L’ shaped. It’s a traditional nursery with few protected areas and many plants grown in beds in the open. Plants are mostly sold by mail order with two catalogues issued each year. Protection is given to some of the big range of plants that originate from South Africa. However Crocosmia and Agapanthus, of which there is a vast selection, are grown in the open soil. In fact most plants are grown in the ground and dispatched to customers bare rooted.



Main bulb attractions on my visit to Broadleigh Gardens

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Tulipa saxatilis

Two plants immediately grabbed my attention as soon as I got out of the car. The first was Tulipa saxatilis. This soft pink flowered species was just beginning to open its blooms and is a good reliable one for naturalising.

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Anemone apennina alba

Alongside, and also in the shade of a cherry tree, was a fine clump of the white form of Anemone apennina.  Looking like a much stronger version of our own native windflower, this held its heads up to be admired.

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Erythronium ‘Susannah’

There were lots of Erythronium growing and flowering in the shade of good shrubs. Many are of selections that I had not seen before.

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Cyclamen repanda and primroses

If you also visit this garden in late March I’m sure that you will enjoy the fritillaries by the pond [see title pic] and I know that you will be charmed by drifts of native primrose interspersed with Cyclamen repanda.


Going under cover

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Arum creticum

Popping into a polytunnel I was struck by an impressive Arum. This early flower is from Crete.

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Scilla peruviana hughii

Nearby there were Scilla peruviana hughii also in bloom. These were developing very large blue flower heads.





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Pneumataphors on Taxodium disticum

If you visit Broadleigh Gardens, and I hope that you do, watch out for the weird roots sticking up out of the ground underneath a Swamp Cypress tree [Taxodium disticum]. These allows the tree root system to breath even in waterlogged ground. They are called pneumataphors.


And finally

Well you need to visit this place yourself! The garden will be interesting throughout the summer and into autumn. There are plants for sale here and masses to see growing in the garden. I’ll leave you with one final image of the rockery which is full of interesting and delightful little bulbous plants.


Other gardens that you might visit in spring and I’ve blogged about include Kew Gardens for Magnolias and  Elworthy Cottage Garden for snowdrops

If you like growing bulbs you’ll find my tips on naturalising bulbs useful here.

If your daffodils are blind I’ve tips to overcome that problem here.

I find tulips are best planted late in the UK and I’ll tell you why here.

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