This page gives a brief introduction to the various parts of the gardens at Colesbourne Park, starting at the entry gate and follows the suggested counter-clockwise route.
This mixed beech and Norway spruce wood was originally planted as a shelter belt. It has been thinned to give the open wood of today, with mature sycamores and maples amongst the other trees. In February it is full of snowdrops, especially G. nivalis, but also G. elwesii and some Greatorex Doubles.
Commemorating the late George Elwes, this is a glade surrounded by a shrubbery using plants that give interest during the winter and spring for their stems, foliage and flowers. It is interplanted with vigorous herbaceous plants and bulbs. Below the big lime tree is an extensive planting of snowdrops, winter aconites, cyclamen and daffodils and more young specimen trees have been added recently.
We use this name for the area planted with the magnificent drift of Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ for which Colesbourne is famous.
The Icehouse Hollow
Once a Japanese garden, this area has gradually turned into grassland surrounded by some interesting trees, including a Cryptomeria japonica brought back from Japan in a cigarette tin by H.J.Elwes. The bank below the ice house is often called the byzantinus bank for the population of self-sowing Galanthus plicatus ssp. byzantinus that dates back to HJE’s time. The other slopes have been planted with numerous bulbs to extend the season of interest and beauty. Of particular interest are Fritillaria meleagris ‘Alba’ and the pale trumpet daffodil ‘W.P.Milner’.
At the end of the hollow is a grotto, of unknown date. The original patches of G. ‘Lord Lieutenant’ and ‘George Elwes’ are close by, while an extensive patch of G. ‘Colossus’ grows under the trees towards the drive.
The Spring Garden
Formerly a grassy area below trees, this has been turned into a display area for choice snowdrops, enabling their differences to be easily seen and compared. Hellebores, and other woodland plants and plants carry the display on through the rest of the year. A transition from the wild garden to the formal areas, it has a broad central path framing the view of the gateway to the formal garden.
The Formal Garden
The formal garden around the house retains essentially the same layout as that created for the 1850s mansion, with lawns, terraces and balustrading, and a central axial vista to the bridge over the river Churn. Among these features is the grand herbaceous border on the terrace running West from the house. It contains a diversity of herbaceous perennials, augmented in the season with tender perennials and annuals, giving a good show until the frost. The raised front lawn is made over the cellars and foundations of the old mansion.
This is an intimate family space, surrounded by walls and a pergola covered in roses and honeysuckle. The beds are planted with choice snowdrops so that they can be kept under close observation.
Along the drive
The banks above the drive at the front of the house have been planted with Crocus cultivars to create a tapestry of colour. Beyond the gate, with its pair of scented winter honeysuckles Lonicera × purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’, the lawn is planted with Japanese maples, and with drifts of snowdrops, especially ‘James Backhouse’.
The Lake and its banks
The banks of the lake are covered in snowdrops, daffodils and wild flowers such as wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) and bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus ). Close to the water we have planted the snowflakes Leucojum vernum, L. aestivum, and Fritillaria meleagris. Especially conspicuous on the dam are dogwoods and willows with different coloured stems. A good path runs close to the lake edge, but at the house end are steps that may be difficult for the infirm.
The New Pinetum
On sloping ground above the lake is a collection of young conifers planted in recent years by Henry Elwes to form a continuum with the now mature specimens planted by his great-grandfather. The surrounding grass has been planted with daffodils, especially N. ‘Topolino’, which closely resembles the wild N. pseudonarcissus, and the Tenby daffodil, N. obvallaris. Larger patches of snowdrop cultivars line the grass path leading to the New Pinetum.
Brilliant views of snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Cyclamen, Crocus and Hellebores.Visitor 2019