One of the most spectacular areas of the Royal Gardens at Highgrove is the Arboretum. Typically, arboretums are large gardens where many types of trees are grown to be admired and studied for scientific purposes. This is true of the Royal Gardens, but there is so much more to see in the Arboretum than just the trees.
Alongside trees, the Arboretum is home to a variety of plant life
First developed in 1992 from half an acre of land, the Arboretum has grown to be home of numerous varieties of Acer, Beech and Cherry trees, as well as Magnolias, a particular favourite of HRH The Prince of Wales. Amongst the trees, there are a whole host of plants, shrubs, ferns and grasses which make this area a hub for wildlife.
40,000 snowdrops have been planted in the Arboretum
During the spring months, the floor comes alive with bulbs planted during the previous autumn months. 40,000 snowdrops, which were planted to celebrate 40 years of The Prince’s Trust, raise their white heads above the ground along with beautiful double headed Narcissus ‘Thalia’, pink and purple Cyclamen coum, and the sapphire bells of Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’. The bulbs take advantage of pools of light which are let through gaps in the canopy above to grow in abundance.
Beautiful blue scilla litter the ground
Over the years, a significant number of rhododendrons and hydrangeas have also been planted in the Arboretum to add more colour and variation. Two types of hydrangea - lacecap and mophead - have been planted, both with eye-catching floral displays.
The iconic mophead hydrangea blooms in tight clusters of brightly coloured flowers which create the illusion of one large flower, while the more delicate lacecap hydrangeas consist of a centre of tiny clusters of flowers encircled by a ring of showy florets.
Stunning examples of mophead and lacecap hydrangea can be found in the Arboretum
The Arboretum is also home to an exciting ecosystem of grasses and ferns. Hidden in the shade under the trees, Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens), Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) and Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) make their home. These sprawling plants not only add colour and coverage at ground level but also assist with attracting bees and insects for pollination.