One of the most beautiful natural perfumes emerges from the magnolia-like blooms of the quite frost-tender Michelia tree. The very new scientific name is Magnolia doltsopa. The scent reminds of grated lemon peel with vanilla and a hint of clove. The tree in the Southern part of the Walled Garden suffered a lot during the last two winters, its top looks battered. But it is still carrying some flowers (the normal blooming period would be very early spring). It is native to the Eastern Himalayan region and the Meghalaya subtropical forests in India, it varies in form from bushy to narrow and upright, and can grow to a height of 30 metres (98 ft) tall.
After an extremely strong winter: Many leptospermums didn’t survive the strong frosts but a few are starting to bloom. The struggling acacia (mimosa) at the steps to the temple died and the whole corner was cleared.
The exhibition in the Casita isn’t illuminated anymore (and the wisteria seems quite week after the low temperatures). The ancient sarcophagus and good old leo (the one who lost his face) dissapeared, maybe for restauration?
One of the remarkable plant hunters to the Far East was Frank Kingdon Ward (1885-1958), he brought Rhododendron macabeanum from the Himalayan Mountains to
Europe. A beautiful plate below the tall plant – at the moment in full
bloom – is dedicated to him (with a typo in his name! 😉 Read more about the interesting life of the explorer here and let him tell you about his adventures in his book Riddle of the Tsangpo Gorges. A specimen of Rhododendron macabeanum in the East Garden (closed to the public) comes from the seeds of Kingdon-Ward, as former head-gardener Murdo Mackenzie noted in his plant lists.
Don’t the curtains of wisteria around the casita look gorgeous? The renovation of the roof was thoroughly done around the huge plants in the eighties. It was really worth letting it grow. Unfortunately the glorious Clianthus puniceus (Kakabeak, Parrot’s Bill or Lobster Claw, pic below) with it’s deep red didn’t survive the chilly winter. It had decorated the ballustrade below the wisteria.