The International Steam Pages

Lydney Park Gardens, 2013
(Size isn't everything but it helps...)

Click here for the 2013 gardens index.

The Bathurst family are considerable landowners in Gloucestershire, one arm of the family (the Bledisloes) owns the Lydney Park Estate. Aside from associated commercial activities, the estate has an area of woodland gardens, within which large numbers of azaleas and rhododendrons were planted some 50-60 years ago, these being a particular interest of an earlier Viscount Bledisloe. Known as the 'Spring Gardens' these are open to the public on Wednesdays, Sundays and bank holidays during the flowering season (usually April/May). Owing to the late Spring in 2013, this period was extended by a week and we visited on 5th June. We found that the flowering had become concentrated and a display which was described by the head gardener 'as good as any I have seen in my time here'.

Getting to the gardens from Mitcheldean by public transport needed some care, but James Bevan Coaches ( run buses (713/714 and 717) which require a change in Cinderford. The second section through Ruspidge and Soudley is very pretty. After which there was the small matter of walking a mile and a half to Lydney Park, the final part being up the drive past the deer enclosure (venison anyone?). Owing to the quantity of pictures and the need to display them at a decent resolution, please click the thumbnails and then return to this page to continue. To be honest, my cheap digital camera struggles in sunlight with very brightly coloured flowers such as these so I have adjusted the contrast slightly to try to show them as the human eye does, although many of the apparently pink varieties actually have more red in them.

As country houses go, the mansion is nothing special but it is well placed overlooking the Vale of Severn with the Cotswolds beyond. Word had obviously got around that the gardens were open for an extra week as there were more than a dozen cars by the entrance gate. We walked down to the gardens, with a tantalising view of the joys to come, the statue is one of two originally made for the nearby Roman temple. I made no attempt to record the identities of the plants, as a rule of thumb the big flowered plants are rhododendrons and the 'small' ones are azaleas.

Which in my book made most of the early plants azaleas, the reflection n the second picture is a more accurate representation of the colour of the flowers.

Sometimes you need a marker to indicate the size of the offerings, although you may struggle to spot Yuehong in the third picture.

Ahead through a slight haze appeared a wall of colour surrounded by trees, the second picture suggests that the 'bushes' are at least 10 metres high and finally the true colour is shown close up. The only word I could think to describe the effect was 'stunning'. 

In 2012, we had decided to plant some azaleas in our home garden to fill the time gap between the bulbs and the roses. We guessed they would grow well as we had inherited a large purple rhododendron at the top of the garden which had not been seen at its best in 2011 owing to being hemmed in by sycamores which we had since pruned severely. Although our small ones had gone well in 2013, we had never imagined this kind of effect... We congratulated the head gardener and couldn't resist a couple of small takeaways for Mitcheldean where they have been placed in a prominent position at the top of our steps. It will take a couple of years for them to settle in.

We squeezed in a visit to the remains of the Roman Temple on the hill above the gardens, without the trees it would clearly have been in a commanding position for the associated settlement.

As it was a Wednesday, the Dean Forest Railway was operating and we timed our walk back to town to see 9681 working across the old A48 just north of their Lydney Town station. Returning home, the connection time appears to be a risky one minute, but from experience I knew there would be no problem because the same bus is used for both services!

Click here for the 2013 gardens index.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson