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Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire

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Sir Harold Hillier Gardens Photos

Garden entrance by Barbara Ballard Education garden by Barbara Ballard The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens are spread over 180 acres of landscaped grounds and woodlands. The collection consists of 42,000 plants (12,000 different types). There is a water garden, a children’s education garden, a bog garden, a winter garden, a heather garden, the Gurkha memorial garden with a collection of Nepalese plants, a peat garden, fields, a tree plantation, and a plant centre.

Garden Pathway by Barbara Ballard In addition to a hydrangea walk there are a number of others, one of which is a spring walk. The woodland section of the garden is separate and across a road from the main garden.

Iris in bloom by Barbara Ballard The garden is named in memory of Sir Harold Hillier, one of the 20th century’s greatest plantsmen. He inherited an interest in plants from his father, a world authority on conifers and connected with the nursery business. Sir Harold, always interested in all kinds of plants, made sure his favourite flowers were placed near his house, Jermyn's House, to which he moved in 1953.

Long Border by Barbara Ballard Long Border by Barbara Ballard The long border is one of the world’s longest at 220 yards. Each bay is marked with
an evergreen shrub. It was planted in 1964 to mark the centenary of Hillier Nurseries. It cuts in half the 10 acre field, once used by the family business.

Oak trees by Barbara Ballard Either side of the border are specimen trees and shrubs that have a wildflower meadow below. The oak field is home to the National Collection of Oaks with over 200 species. It is also underplanted with a wildflower meadow.

Pond by Barbara Ballard Pond Shelter by Barbara Ballard The pond, dug in 1966, is one of the garden’s most diverse areas. Here are found some of the oldest and rarest trees overlooking moisture loving plants. The site was chosen because of its waterlogged soil. Water lilies share the pond with koi, ghost carp, and rudd. In the autumn the swamp cypress adds its red colour to the surroundings.

Heather plantings by Barbara Ballard The heather section, home to some of the first trees and shrubs planted, boasts a heather plant in flower every month of the year. The area was a paddock until 1953. The dwarf collection of conifers, one of Hillier’s passions, is found here. The taller conifers are located in the pinetum by the winter garden.

Palm tree by Barbara Ballard In January look for witch hazel flowers. In the spring there are camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas. In summer the flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants take over. Holly and yew provide year round evergreen backdrops.

Anytime of the year look for small blue labels noting plants of current interest that change with the weeks and seasons. Two examples when we visited were:

Crataegus azarolus hawthorn by Barbara Ballard 1. Crataegus azarolus—a species of hawthorn from North Africa and western Asia which is rare in cultivation. It forms a large shrub or small tree with white flowers that have bright pink-purple anthers. The fruits, maturing in the autumn, look like small apples and are edible. They can be eaten raw, tasting sweet, or made into jam.

Eremurus himalaicus by Barbara Ballard 2. Eremurus himalaicus—a species of fox tail lily with flower spikes reaching as tall as six feet. It is a summer flowering perennial.

Sir Harold Hillier gave the arboretum to Hampshire County Council in 1977. He died in 1985. In 1997 English Heritage added the gardens to the Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England.

Visitor Information

Garden in bloom by Barbara Ballard Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Jermyns Lane, Ampfield
Near Romsey, Hampshire
Tel. 0 1794 369318
Open: April-Oct, daily, 10am-6pm with last admission at 5pm; Nov-March until 5pm with last admission at 4pm; closed 25-26 Dec

White camellia at the gardens by Barbara Ballard Tea-room open April-Oct, 10am-5pm except till 4.30 winter months; Jermyn's House restaurant closed Nov-March, open April-Oct 2.30-4.30pm, sometimes closed for special functions/weddings.
Large shop; garden centre; picnic area; weddings and conferences by arrangement; events and courses.
Website: Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Note: Allow a minimum of a half day to fully explore and enjoy the gardens, shop, and indulge in refreshments. A full day is best.

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Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
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