The UK’s pre-eminent collection of Lachenalias (the ‘leopard lily’) will be on show when Exbury Gardens re-opens for the 2015 season on Saturday 14 March. Interest in the South African plant, which is considered ideal for a kitchen pot, windowsill or conservatory, continues to rise, and this year’s exhibition will run through until Easter Monday, 6 April 2015.
Nicholas de Rothschild, President of the Gardens and overseer of Exbury’s Lachenalia Collection, explains the fascination of the Leopard Lily: ‘The Lachenalias represent one of the fastest-growing collector plants in the country. The Genus is captivating, with new discoveries being made – only last year a new species of Lachenalia was found and named. In the middle of a dull winter and at what can be a quiet time for flowering in the UK the Lachenalias provide a welcome burst of colour.’
Growers Theo Herselmann and Emma Callan have been nurturing the Exbury Lachenalia Collection in the glasshouses, and are excited about putting the plants on public show in the Gallery. ‘At this time of year the Lachenalias certainly have the ‘wow’ factor, said Theo. They are still a surprise for many of our Garden visitors, albeit a very pleasant one! Given their compact size we get lots of requests to purchase the plants, and whilst this is possible, we recommend a summer purchase when the bulbs are dormant.’ Alongside the Lachenalias in the Five Arrows Gallery will be a real taste of Southern Africa, with displays of Clivias and a magnificent 6ft Aloe in full flower. ‘It will be the ‘Bushveld’ on the South Coast!’ claims Theo.
Outside in the Gardens there are signs that this will be an early spring, with daffodils, heathers, camellias and daphnes in flower, and the magnificent pink blooms of the Magnolia campbellii waiting to open. Head Gardener John Anderson is looking forward to the new season. ‘This is the first year that we have opened as a ‘Camellia Garden of Excellence’ and visitors will be treated to a world-class display of camellias across three separate ‘walks’ in the Gardens. We have improved pathways and labelling, and the camellias will put on a wonderful show for the next two to three months.’
Exbury’s caterers Pabulum have also been busy over the winter months, transforming an area of Mr Eddy’s Tea Rooms into a self-service, high quality coffee shop. ‘We’re responding to customer demand and are offering a new service in surroundings which are now much more rustic and in keeping with the Gardens’ said Pabulum manageress Lian Beadell. ‘There can be no better way to see in the spring than to enjoy a couple of hours exploring Exbury’s blooms, the Five Arrows Lachenalia exhibition and then to relax on a comfy sofa with a warming coffee.’
More Lachenalia information can be found by visiting: www.nerines.com, whilst details on the Lachenalia exhibition can be seen at: www.exbury.co.uk. A special Lachenalia Display and Glasshouse tour with Theo Herselmann will take place on Saturday 21 March commencing at 10am at the visitor entrance. Tickets are available on 023 8024 5750.