At Sir Harold Hillier Arboretum and Gardens in Hampshire it can be difficult to know which way to go. Set in 180 acres the gardens have the largest collection of hardy shrubs and trees in the world as well as 14 national collections.
The gardens began life in 1953 under the stewardship of Sir Harold Hillier, son of Edwin Lawrence Hillier, a world authority on conifers, who himself was the son of a Victorian florist and nurseryman. In 1977 the Gardens and Arboretum came under the trusteeship of Hampshire County Council but the Nurseries are still owned and run by the Hillier family and this year they won their 71st consecutive Gold medal at Chelsea!
But let us return to the Arboretum, and one of my favourite trails ‘Art in the Garden’. Now in its 18th year the Gardens invite artists every year to showcase and sell their art in the garden. The only brief for the artists is that the art must be suitable for an outdoor exhibition. Some of the sculptures this year are amazing, and not only are enhanced by their garden location but add something to the plants around them. Others are good but perhaps need a different setting. I have no idea as to how much influence the artists themselves have over placement, nor how much consideration is given to the changes caused by both season and plant growth.
This year it seems a permanent willow sculpture walk has been added to the collection, certainly encourages you to explore the Pinetum trail, something I had not done for years.And at this time a year it is a stunning trail to explore as it is surrounded by the Acer Valley. Some of the trees were gorgeous, but that’s another post!
Having not visited the gardens for a few years, I have been twice this year to explore hence the light variation in my photographs. So much to see on both occasions as no matter the weather nor the season these gardens are lovely. And it’s not just the gardens here. As well as the tea room in the middle of the garden, there is another tea room at the entrance. Perfect for those occasions when you only have time for a bit of cake! When I last visited both the gardens and the tea room about nine days ago I had Jo in my thoughts having not long heard heard the news about her lovely Dad. Thinking of you again today Jo, and maybe one day the two of us could stroll and have tea here together.
Simply not possible for me to include all of my pictures in one post so I’ll be back soon with a few more photographs. For now though I’ll finish my Monday Walk in my favourite local garden with one of my favourite shots from last week’s visit. The best artists in the garden are the plants themselves. Wouldn’t you agree Jude?