Spring At RHS Rosemoor

Magnolia 'Spectrum'

Magnolia ‘Spectrum’


For the first time in (what feels like) ages the sun shone brightly yesterday morning. What better day for Torrington Tina and myself to take a walk around the Royal Horticultural Society’s Devon garden, Rosemoor. Spring is bursting out all over now. Magnolia ‘Spectrum’ was so intense we risked sodden feet, wading out across a still soggy lawn in search of a label. Even the children racing around the garden in pursuit of chocolate bunnies were not doing that. No, their parents were far more sensible.


Magnolia 'Susan'


Magnolia ‘Susan’

Seeing these floriferous trees makes me determined to try again with magnolias. I have just the one spring flowering specimen, M. ‘Leonard Messel’ which bears no blooms whatsoever this year, just a few half hearted leaf buds.



But what an impact they make within a woodland border



Looking up towards the woodland from Lady Anne’s garden. The pink punch lower centre comes from an azalea.


Uvularia grandiflora var. pallida


Uvularia grandiflora var. pallida in Lady Anne’s garden



Camassias and unfurling fern fronds alongside the stream


Stachyurus 'Rubriflorus'


Stachyurus ‘Rubriflorus’

Every year I say I must get one of these. Every year I promptly forget. Every following year I regret it.



Up in the Fruit and Veg garden blossom is breaking out too. Love the way these apple and pear trees have been trained into cordons. Picking surely couldn’t be easier, no need for a wall and they take up virtually no space.



That should do it..


Epimedium perralderianum


Epimedium perralderianum

Epimediums carpet large areas around the shadier parts of the garden, demonstrating their value as ground cover. Just as good for foliage as for their delicate blooms.



Epimediums in the woodland underpinning a particularly vibrant azalea


Fritillaria meleagris


Fritillaria meleagris

How do they do it. I’ve heard pheasants at Rosemoor, I know they’re here. If it were my garden there wouldn’t be a bloom left to be seen.



Gunnera unfurling on the far side of the lake



Trillium kurabayashii, ferns, hellebores and Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’



Trillium kurabayashii..

this time with hostas. What stunning combinations. And not a slug hole to be seen.



Just the beginning.. by this time next week it’ll all look different again.

Don’t you just love Spring?


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2017-10-26T10:16:32+00:00April 6th, 2017|Tags: |


  1. Sue Garrett April 6, 2017 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Years ago we thought that we had bought magnolia Susan but by the time it flowered we found that it was just the common Soulangeana. I guess the hosts are spared slug attack by being surrounded with water.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Even the hostas not surrounded by water were virtually pristine. They use a lot of bark. We wondered if that helped, or whether it just gave the slugs more of a hiding place.

  2. wherefivevalleysmeet April 6, 2017 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Yes, yes, I love the spring too – I am so envious of the Trilliums but they are completely wrong for my soil – why is it that we always want the plants we cannot grow?
    The newly unfurled ferns alongside the stream and the Camassias really caught my eye.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      Trilliums don’t work for me either. I had the same one as in the photos, T. kurabayashii, for two years then it suddenly gave up the ghost. I’ve been clearing a new area in the woodland today though and the soil is wonderful. Crumbly and richly coloured, no doubt from years of enrichment with leaf mould. I’m tempted to try trilliums again..

  3. Linda Brazill April 6, 2017 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Oh so yummy! That purple Rhodie is a color I just don’t ever see where I live. I just caged two groups of Fritillaries that i planted in 2015 and were eaten last year. Hoping I get to see a flower this year.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      It’s not a colour that crops up very frequently here either. Good luck with the fritillaries. I was tempted again this year but would definitely have to cage them to have any chance of success.

  4. frayedattheedge April 6, 2017 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photos! I saw a stunning magnolia when we were in Alnmouth this morning – but we were driving past and I didn’t get the chance to take a photo.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      They are doing really well this year. Well, except for mine. 🙁

  5. Peter/Outlaw April 6, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Yes, I love spring. What a magnificent garden in which to experience the magic of this season! Beautiful photographs. I hope you have more luck with magnolias as they are gorgeous this time of year!

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      They certainly are. I shall have to climb the hill and give it an extra feed.

  6. Kris P April 6, 2017 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    What a lovely garden! Thanks for the tour. I fall in love with Stacyurus every time I see it (usually in photos out of the Pacific Northwest) but this morning confirmed what I’d already suspected: it won’t grow here. Of course, that is true of virtually every plant you showed. Such a pity!

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      As Rosemary said above, we always seem to want to grow the things we can’t have! And there are plenty of those for me.

  7. Anna April 6, 2017 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Oh magnolia ‘Spectrum’ is a stunner Jessica – certainly worth getting your tootsies wet for a close up peek. Would love to see Rosemoor in the spring.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      Rosemoor is certainly looking good at the moment, but then they have a few extra bodies working on it and a few extra pennies to spend. It just frustrates me that I can’t grow the things they seem to manage, like slug hole free hostas, when they have virtually identical growing conditions to me.

  8. Julieanne April 6, 2017 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    I’ve never been to Rosemoor. It looks quite beautiful. That photo of the stream with the Camassias is stunning.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      It feels a lot more intimate than somewhere like Wisley (I haven’t seen the other two). But then part of it was originally a private garden and Lady Anne’s house is still there. I doubt that area of the garden has changed very much.

  9. ourfrenchoasis April 6, 2017 at 10:28 pm - Reply

    When we lived in Devon I used to love visiting gardens, I always came away with so many ideas and with a resolve that I would do more with our garden. I am always on the look out for new inspiration for our garden here in France, everything is flowering like made, we have bluebells and wisteria and iris, lilac and poppies, suddenly there is a riot of spring colour, but no spring flowering magnolias here in our garden either, just the grandiflora evergreen ones which are fabulous.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      I’d be tempted by a grandiflora if I had the space. I do have the summer flowering M. sieboldii which seems to do OK. So I’m not giving up with the spring flowering varieties just yet! We’re fortunate to have so many gardens to visit in Devon and Cornwall, they are so good for inspiration.. if not for the plant budget!

  10. Christina April 7, 2017 at 12:00 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica, thank you so much for the walk through Rosemoor! I have so fond memories of this garden from our summer vacation two years ago. It is so nice to see it in spring. This garden is just outstanding. I also often wondered: How in the world do they do it?
    Hope you get Stachyurus ‘Rubriflorus’ this year. It has so beautiful and unusual blooms!
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      I nearly bought one a few years ago but there were too many other things I needed at the time. Since then I’ve never seen it although it is available from the nursery I use online. Next time they have a sale I shall pounce!

  11. Pauline April 7, 2017 at 6:04 am - Reply

    For some unknown reason we have never visited Rosemore at this time of year, maybe because we are too busy in the garden here! It all looks wonderful, maybe I should plant Camassias with my ferns in the boggy bit.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      I was surprised to see the camassias there, I would have thought being bulbs they would rot in the moist soil. They are quite high up the bank where they are at Rosemoor though, maybe that’s the trick. ‘Moist but well drained’ is the advice I found online.

  12. Piddlewick April 7, 2017 at 7:02 am - Reply

    What a lovely post to wake up to, such beautiful spring photos.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks. Spring has definitely sprung here now!

  13. smallsunnygarden April 7, 2017 at 7:09 am - Reply

    It looks fabulous! Spring is such an effervescent season… I do hope you can find magnolias that will work in your garden; they are such beautiful things. I still remember the awe with which I walked under what must have been southern magnolias in full bloom, on my way home from school a few times… only a few times, but they have stayed in my memory ever since! Any kind of magnolia is a marvel!

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      They are gorgeous aren’t they, when they are well grown. Frost always used to be a problem on the east side of England where I lived as a child. But winters are getting milder and here in the west the last frost date is earlier. I must get to grips with magnolias. And wisteria for that matter.

  14. Amy at love made my home April 7, 2017 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Just beautiful!! Spring is lovely isn’t it!

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      It certainly is. All the better for it getting warmer and it being a pleasure to be working outside again.

  15. kate@barnhouse April 7, 2017 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Beautiful photographs, Jessica, thank you for highlighting some truly inspiring spring combinations. The carpet of epimediums is such a lovely idea, too, looks great with the zingy azalea.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      The ones I’ve planted thus far seem to be spreading quite freely. It encourages me to get more and start to build up some carpets. They are effective.

  16. Jeneane Hobby April 7, 2017 at 10:13 am - Reply

    So much to catch up on after your trip to my hemisphere, but this post has my mouth watering.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Jeneane! Your hemisphere is lovely and I just want to see more, including New Zealand. Wish I could do it every year. Two Springs maybe?

  17. susurrus April 7, 2017 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Magical pictures. You’ve got some of my favourites here – magnolias, trilliums, uvularias, frittilarias, those epimedium leaves lined up to the sun. I went straight to the map to check how far away it is from me.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Rosemoor is handy for me, not just for being relatively close by but also because they have a fair bit of woodland. Great for shady plant inspiration!

  18. Caro April 7, 2017 at 10:26 am - Reply

    You’ve reminded me that I was trawling the gardens at RHS Wisley this time last year; I even picked up a Lindt bunny at the end – did you get yours? There’s loads of inspiration to be found, if only they kept all the plants in the nursery at the end. Having said that, I almost succumbed to an Edgworthia in January last year; I walked away but it’s still in my thoughts. If it’s any consolation, the hostas at Wisley were in tatters last year …

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      No bunny. But last year Rosemoor obviously had a lot left over because they were giving them out by the handful after Easter.. even to those of us who wouldn’t pass muster as children any more. I haven’t forgotten.
      When I first joined the RHS the garden nurseries were THE places to go for the rare and unusual, often grown within the garden itself. With the exception of some alpines that all seems to have changed and it’s such a shame.

  19. Chloris April 7, 2017 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Oh yes, spring is the most magical time of the whole year. What a treat to visit Rosemoor which is fabulous at any time of the year. I love that Magnolia Spectrum.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      You could see Magnolia Spectrum a mile off. I need to find a spot for one where it can be glimpsed through the trees before actually getting to it. That would be a stunning sight.

  20. emilymbrown13 April 7, 2017 at 10:52 am - Reply

    How utterly beautiful! Although I find their lack of slugs and snails suspicious – how on earth do they manage that? The slugs and snails are usually what I manage to grow best!

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      🙂 Yes, me too!
      I’m always suspicious when I see plants growing so perfectly. Especially down here when we’ve had a relatively mild winter and so much rain. My hostas, such as they are, are nibbled already.

  21. Torrington Tina April 7, 2017 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Your stunning photos reflect just how beautiful Rosemoor looks at this time of year, I do hope the RHS appreciates all the promotional work you do for them! Here’s to the next visit. Have you put a sign up for your rabbits yet? I’m still having problems with my little blighters.

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      You’d think that at the very least we’d have got a chocolate bunny. And then it would be us who got to do the nibbling.
      I’m sorry to hear the rabbits are still a problem. I’m not going to say I haven’t seen one lately because that would tempt fate.

  22. snowbird April 7, 2017 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous! I love magnolia too and struggle to grow it, it’s most unfair as my neighbours have no problems whatsoever.xxx

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      Doesn’t that make you so mad? My neighbour has lovely blue hydrangeas and mine are a sort of dirty purple.

  23. Brian Skeys April 8, 2017 at 6:20 am - Reply

    Thank you for the tour of Rosemoor Jessica. We iast visited in August, the hot border was ‘stunning ‘. How I wish we lived closer to one of the RHS gardens. Sadly the new one near Manchester is not exactly on the doorstep. Do you feed your Magnolia with ericaceous fertiliser?

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      I haven’t used ericaceous fertiliser up to now but it’s a good point Brian and well worth a try. Thank you.

  24. germac4 April 8, 2017 at 8:31 am - Reply

    What a wonderful garden to visit in spring…it must give you inspiration. I love the Magnolia tree, they seem to be very versatile, we have flowering white ones here, and in Italy they were everywhere…but none so gorgeous as the one in Rosemoor. Oh to be in England for spring!

    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      Rosemoor always leaves me inspired, not least because I should be able to achieve something similar here. It’s a case of finding out what their tricks are I think. I wish I had more time on my hands, it would be fascinating to do a stint there as a volunteer.
      Oh to be in Australia in any season!

  25. Sigrun April 8, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Hallo Jessica, what a beautiful spring garden. You have seen the other side – I could not because of my bad back. So beautiful. The Uvularia I have baught last year on a garden fair in the *Hessenpark*.


    • Jessica April 8, 2017 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      It’s the first time I’ve seen Uvularia and I will be looking out for one now too.

  26. Off the Edge Gardening April 11, 2017 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Gorgeous, I was with you every step of the way, thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Jessica April 11, 2017 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      I thought of you. Mostly because I remember your encounter with the gold bunny last year. But also because I put a foot in the border to get a better picture of the trillium. I think we got away with it.

  27. Barbara Lavender April 16, 2017 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    This was wonderful, just like walking round the garden, and I kept thinking “we have shady areas that need decorative ground cover – that wold be great!” and suchlike. However, looking out at our garden the awful truth is that everything is getting gradually overcome by ivy. As a bird lover the berries are wonderful, turning up when not too much food is available for them. But it now covers a lot of the ground, and threatens sheds and fences! How on earth can we deal with it without poisoning all the local wildlife (and the odd plant we have managed to raise)? We’ve been pulling it up for the last 30 years or so, and it is slowly buy surely getting the upper hand. Will we have to move house and leave it to someone else?

    • Jessica April 16, 2017 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Thanks Barbara. I really sympathise re the ivy. It doesn’t sound as if my problem is quite as serious as yours but we have it here too. I am forever pulling it out. It’s one of the major jobs every time I clear a new bit of ground and I never totally get rid of it. Like you I avoid using chemicals, the wood is home to many creatures other than me. The RHS suggest covering an area with weed control fabric and mulch, but it has to be left in place for two growing seasons!! It sounds like we have to keep pulling.

  28. Mindy Lewis March 12, 2018 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    I’ve only just found your blog. Nearly a year after you wrote this and I’m sitting here (in the USA, in Virginia) snugged in the house on a snowy day wishing I was about to hop on over to Rosemoor. Your photos are nothing short of stunning and as soon as the weather clears I’ll be out there, digging and planting and envisioning something as spectacular. Oh, let’s get serious, that never happens. The joy is in trying again and again.

    • Jessica March 12, 2018 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      Hello Mindy and welcome.
      I so agree! Rosemoor is only a short drive from me and yet I will never achieve its perfection. But then it is just little me here and not an army of gardeners plus volunteers. But I do always wonder how they manage to get the plants looking so perfect. They too must have slugs. I’ve seen mice there. And pheasants. So how come their plants don’t get munched as mine always do? It’s the joy of trying and trying again and the sense of achievement when something goes right. That’s what keeps us going.
      I hope Spring comes your way soon. It’s much later here this year. I am more than ready.

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