Rhododendrons blooming early at Sheringham Park
Sheringham Park and rhododendrons are often referred to in the same sentence, not surprising when there are 80 different species located in the park. Normally reaching their floral climax during May and June, this year its worth an early look, as some are already making an appearance.
As well as the snowdrops currently in flower, there are already four species of rhododendron in bloom, with several more on the verge of showing there colours. According to head gardener Graham Brennan, it is normal for some species like Christmas Cheer to be in bloom at this time of year, but this year there is an exceptionally early show.
Graham said; Rhododendron strigillosum, which can be found in the secret garden is particularly early; normally flowering between April and June it is already showing off its vivid red flowers. The secret garden which is just off the main drive is definitely worth a look, as alongside the strigillosum, the giant pieris is looking magnificent and full of flower buds, with one of the camellias in flower and more to follow.
We can only speculate on the reason for this early display, the plants may have responded well to the recent relative mild weather, following the extremely cold pre Christmas temperatures. Or is it another sign of an earlier spring?
Graham is predicting a bumper year for colour at the National Trusts Sheringham Park, as most of the plants are already showing larger then normal flower buds. As well as the rhododendrons, head warden Keith Zealand is also asking visitors to keep an eye out for toads and frogs, as they move towards water to spawn.
Keith explains; The paths can be covered with them at this time of the year, as theyre on the move. Sometimes you literally have to tip toe through them in a couple of areas of the park to avoid treading on them and if we get rain then visitors wont have to look far to see or hear them. The increased volume of birdsong from chaffinch and song thrush, alongside the wonderful sound of great spotted woodpeckers drumming, is a sign that spring is just around the corner.
With half term coming up, its a wonderful time to visit Sheringham Park and see, hear and smell nature wakening following a long hard winter.