Bowood Rhododendrons

I consider myself very lucky.

Less than 10 minutes to the east from where I live is the Neolithic henge monument of Avebury with its associated prehistoric landscape.

Avebury, July 2013
Avebury, July 2013

Less than 10 minutes to the west is the Bowood Estate, owned by the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne. Apart from the beautiful Georgian country house, the gardens were designed primarily by ‘Capability’ Brown.

Bowood House in 1905. Today only the orangery wings on the left remain.
Bowood House in 1905. Today only the orangery wings on the left remain.

However, one of the stand-out areas for me are the rhododendron walks. These were laid out by the 3rd Marquis of Lansdowne in the 1850s, but have been extended over the intervening years to cover a site of around 60 acres of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas that surround the family mausoleum.

One thing I find particularly interesting is that the reason this garden can exist at all, let alone thrive, in Wiltshire is the strip of acidic greensand that runs from the Dorset coast up to the Wash in East Anglia formed by shallow maritime deposits in the late Cretaceous.

The Walks themselves, which include over 30 original hardy hybrid varieties thought to have been extinct,  are only open for six weeks a year during the flowering season from late April to early June, and cost £6.75 for an adult. More details here.

I’ve visited a few times, although not for a couple of years now, and am going to share a selection of photos. I’m not going to pretend to be the best photographer – and I have no doubt that there are ‘better’ photos of the plants out there!

If you want to see all the photos then there are a couple of galleries at my Flickr – from 2009 and from 2010.

I thin a return visit this year might be in order!



14 thoughts on “Bowood Rhododendrons”

  1. I am pleased that this year we got a season ticket for Bowood which covers the Rhododendron Walks. Hoping the weather picks up again soon to go. I also caught something on the news the other day about rhododendron ponticum and it’s hybrids potentially being on the EU alien species blacklist – which could affect over 300 types of garden plants. Lets hope that none of these are included at Bowood as it could have quite a negative affect on the gardens there.


      1. I love Bowood. We have relatives that live nearby. Also – over the last couple of years we have seen many of these plants (ponticum) removed from the hills and mountainside in Wales. The views have been transformed as the undergrowth has been rejuvenated. They certainly take over!

        Liked by 1 person

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