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. Continue reading