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the woodland garden

& the arboretum today

Among the ‘large leaved’ Rhododendron species that grow within the arboretum are R. sinogrande, R. magnificum, R. macabeanum and R. falconeri.  Perhaps the most impressive though is R. protistum from Myanmar, one of Frank Kingdon Ward's introductions.  It is a magnificent single stemmed tree now, covered with a mass of enormous magenta coloured flowers in February.

Read more - Woodland Garden

Left: rhododendron protistum, flowering in february

Right: rhododendron 'polar bear' which flowers in july

There are a number of champion trees in the garden.  Irish champion for height, at 14.5 meters is Crinodendron hookerianum, the Chilean lantern tree and  Ilex altaclarensis, a hybrid holly is an Irish champion at 20 metres.

A Eucryphia nymansay at 19.4 metres is first equal in height with the Irish champion  at Mount Usher.

Many plants from the southern hemisphere thrive at Woburn, including Myrtus apiculata with its wonderful peeling cinnamon-brown bark and aromatic leaves, Embothium longifolium with its vivid flame coloured flowers and Drimys winteri which has gown to triffid like proportions.

My husband Charles and I have tried to add our input to the garden, and over the past few years we have created a stream garden and developed an area we call Jurassic Park.  

This we have planted up with suitably jungly plants like tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica, Ginkgos, the Chinese Swamp Cypress, Glyptostrobus pencilis “Wooly Mammoth”, Tetrapanax Rex,  giant Gunnera and lots of tree echiums, underplanted with a variety of ferns, mecanopsis, candelabra primulas and cobra lilies.  

We planted a Wollemi pine, Wollemia noblis a couple of years ago.  It is one of the rarest and oldest trees in the world, and considered to be a living fossil dating back to the time of the dinosaurs.  Also in the same plant family is the Monkey Puzzle, Araucaria araucana which we have planted near to the Wollemi.

monkey puzzle, araucaria araucana


We have created two ponds, and an exotic garden with a selection of hardy palms, bamboo and grasses. We have also continued to plant rhododendrons, including several species grown from seed brought back from Sikkim in the Himalayas in 2010.  With thanks to Neil Porteous of Mountstewart we are also growing a number of epiphytic rhododendrons on an old Macrocarpa stump, and trying out a number of Schlefferas and Magnolias recently introduced from Vietnam. Lets hope they like it here.

exotic plants thrive at woburn lodge