What’s in Bloom Now? Garden Updates December 17 – 31


By Thea Hegland

The peacefulness of a daytime visit to The Gardens brings some pleasant respite from the busy holiday season. It is a nice quiet time to marvel at all the Christmas décor while enjoying the understated winter flowers and the many local birds which find sanctuary amongst the dynamic setting.

Only accessible during the daytime during the Christmas season, The Japanese Garden is a gift that just keeps giving. Beautiful and calm, it is here you will find yourself immersed amongst the lush green mosses, hardy ferns and the many evergreen specimen trees such as Cryptomeria japonica ‘Aurea’ (Japanese cedar), Pinus wallichiana and Sciadopitys verticallata (Japanese umbrella pine). There are more than 11 different varieties of Bamboo plantings and impressive drifts of Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo) that beam with bright red berries. All this beauty lays amidst the old Japanese maples that were planted more than a century ago.

The Japanese Gardens beautiful and calm

Elsewhere in The Gardens the early signs of flowers are forming on Hamamelis (Witch hazel) and some bulbs are beginning to rise above ground. Winter blooming Erica (Heather) and brave little Viola flowers brighten up the day.

Hamamelis (Witch hazel)

Perhaps my favourite time of the day now is just when the sun gets low and casts a beautiful glow throughout The Gardens as the sun sets over the hills. Soon after, the magic begins. The evening walk at Christmastime offers visitors a great opportunity to view some the most notable trees of The Gardens. Many of the old specimens of Acer palmatum dissectum (Japanese maple) have been strategically highlighted showcasing their incredible structure; these trees are quite arguably one of the most vital trees of The Gardens. They offer year-round appeal based on their gorgeous foliage from the spring when the soft delicate leaves range in shades of green and red right through the fall when they put on a spectacular show of autumn colours. Now, in the winter months when they are barren, they remain boldly striking covered in lichen and moss.

Acer palmatum dissectum (Japanese maple) have been strategically highlighted showcasing their incredible structure

Off in a distance from The Sunken Garden lookout you will notice six Populas italica (Lombardy polar) that glow against the night sky. As you leave The Sunken Garden you will be able to walk by these very impressive trees. Over a century old, they were planted by Jennie Butchart herself to block the view of the old cement factory.

Up on the Concert Lawn you will find several Julgans regia (English walnut) trees cloaked in classic white lights. Nearby, The Seven Swans are swimming on the serene pond seen off in a distance before the enchanting forest. Further down The Concert Lawn, The Eight Maids are busy in the old orchard. Note the venerable fruit trees that include Malus domestica ‘Gravestein’ and ‘King Edward VII’ (Apple) as well as Pyrus (Pear).

Julgans regia (English walnut) trees cloaked in classic white lights

Soaring above 170 feet tall stands the tallest of two Sequoia sempervirens (Coastal redwoods) located on the back path behind the Concert Lawn. Planted as seedlings in 1934 these trees have drawn much fascination from visitors and staff alike. Remarkably enhanced by the new light show this Christmas, this is most definitely one of the highlights.

With merely a fortnight until the new year begins, I hope you find time to make The Gardens part of your holiday tradition.

Plants that are currently blooming
  • Anthurium (Flamingo flower)
  • Aucuba japonica (Spotted laurel)
  • Bellis (English daisy)
  • Bergenia (Elephant’s ears)
  • Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
  • Camellia
  • Catalpa (Indian bean tree)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Cyclamen
  • Davidia (Dove tree)
  • Erica (Heather)
  • Euonymus europaeus (Spindle tree)
  • Euphorbia pulcherrina (Poinsettia)
  • Garrya elliptica (Silk- tassel bush)
  • Grevillea
  • Helleborus (Christmas rose)
  • Hydrangea
  • Ilex verticillata (Winterberry)
  • Kalanchoe
  • Jasminium nudiflorum (Winter jasmine)
  • Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ (Oregon grape)
  • Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo)
  • Ophiopogon planiscapus (Black mondo grass)
  • Orchid
  • Pansy
  • Pieris (Lily -of – the valley shrub)
  • Poinsettia
  • Polyanthus (Primula)
  • Pyracantha
  • Sarcococca (Christmas box)
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Viburnum x bodnantense
  • Viburnum tinus
  • Viola