The Dorothy Clive Garden in Laburnum Arch Season

Metal arch supporting racemes of yellow laburnum flowers

I am usually drawn back to my favourite gardens at least once each year, timing my visit when they are at, or around, their peak of flowering. That can be a challenge. Seasons vary. Enlightened gardens work hard to make sure there is always something to tempt visitors during their open season, which makes ‘their peak’ relative, depending on which flower combinations delight you most.

I’m inclined to blame the tulips and spring bulbs for beguiling me in the past. Whether or not their rainbow glory can truly be faulted, I’ve always missed seeing the Dorothy Clive’s laburnum arch in full flower by just a few weeks or so (mere days in 2015). This year, as you see, I’ve been more fortunate.

The garden’s extensive collection of rhododendrons and azaleas together have a longer peak and were still looking fantastic in and around the Quarry Garden. I’m sorry to confess that at one point I snootily considered these flowers garish – too showy – and observed that the form of the plant can be rangy. It’s only by visiting the Dorothy Clive Garden that I have learned to cast my prejudice aside and wholeheartedly embrace the flow of their colour and variety. This trip I even caught myself trying to get an artistic photograph of a rangy one to capture the atmosphere it conveyed – a sure sign that the mighty has fallen.

White rhododendron flowers striped pink

This striped beauty seemed to underline my earlier faults, proving that rhodis can be as ethereally lovely as any plant you’ll find in a shady spot.


An owl by chainsaw artist, Angel Maltby, perched as watchfully as a sleeping owl can over a fairy door, the largest of several dotted around the garden. The garden encourages school visits: other details that might interest curious children include insect hotels that provide shelter for pollinators in the kitchen garden.

Clump of purple irises

I’ve never had a problem admiring irises and these mauve ones were particularly striking. I’d like to say that the petals have a romantic covering of dew, but it was a dull day with the odd shower.

Red magnolia flowers

On the way up to the laburnum arch, I passed this magnolia flowering bountifully, the maroon colour on the outside of the petals contrasting beautifully with their lighter insides.

I’ve been wondering if roses are on course to flower earlier this year. Perhaps just a touch if the weather stays fine.

Wildflower patch: red campion and cow parsley

It is always lovely to see wildflowers incorporated so confidently in the planting: Silene dioica (red campion),  Anthriscus sylvestris (cow parsley) and Myosotis scorpioides (forget-me-not) together creating a tapestry effect.

The garden is run as a charity, so if you get a chance to visit, you’ll be supporting a good cause. For details of events, opening hours and prices, check out the Dorothy Clive Garden’s website.

59 thoughts on “The Dorothy Clive Garden in Laburnum Arch Season

  1. Oddment says:

    I have a dear friend whom I have upset no end by saying I don’t care for rhododendrons. She has taken it quite personally. I must say, though, that that striped flower might have softened my opinion a little. I love the sleeping owl! How inspired the whole sculpture! And those magnolia blooms! — they seem so elegant and sophisticated. I’ve never seen a laburnum arch, but I know I’d sure like to stand under the one above. Beautiful photos — thank you!

    • susurrus says:

      I am sure your friend will forgive you. Perhaps it is because their buds don’t appeal? We can’t like everything, although it’s nice to discover that my likes seem to be expanding as I age rather than the reverse.

  2. Heyjude says:

    I am not a fan of rhodies, but agree that some can be rather charming in the right setting. Thanks for the look around this garden. One I meant to visit when we lived in Shropshire, but never quite made it! The laburnum arch is spectacular, especially with those purple allium underneath.

    • susurrus says:

      It’s funny how we can set aside so much flower power. I’ve gradually learned to appreciate them, especially in a large garden. Azaleas started to grow on me after I saw them growing wild in Mississippi and other southern states.

  3. Paddy Tobin says:

    I have been close to this garden of a few occasions but decided not to visit as I had read so many comments of it being a little uncared for, a little umkempt.

    • susurrus says:

      I’ve visited the Dorothy Clive Garden for the last four or five years, always in the spring or early summer, and have never seen it looking uncared for. Quite the opposite. I have quite a critical eye. There are some wildflower patches, and the tulips one year were underplanted with a sea of forget-me-nots which might not appeal to everyone, but I thought they looked lovely. If you are nearby in or around tulip season, I don’t think you’d be disappointed if you were to call in.

      • Paddy Tobin says:

        I don’t recall where we got this impression – perhaps, a tv clip or a comment from a friend. We’ll be around there again, I imagine.

  4. Holly G. says:

    My goodness, I’m in awe of the beauty in these photos! What spectacular creation on display! I could walk through that garden endlessly without boring, I do believe. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this! ♥

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