Candles and Colour in the Garden
Early May is one of the many moments to enjoy colours in the gardens at Waddesdon.
It is the month when the horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum) really come into their own, laden with creamy white or pink pyramids of blossom, the famous candles. The mature trees, some over 150 years old, are a splendid sight. The five or seven leaflets on each large leaf are a vivid green when young.
The Gardens team are already hanging hormone traps in some of the trees, to keep control of the leaf miner moth, the larvae of which burrow into the leaves later in the year and turn them brown.
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, who laid out the gardens at Waddesdon was knowledgeable about trees and planted a range of different species here, to create masses and accents of colour and contrast in the landscape.
Chestnuts were a particular favourite, as were Limes (Tilia europaea) with their wonderfully sweetly scented, pale yellow flowers, and Beech trees, both common (Fagus sylvatica) and, more dramatically, Copper beeches (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea).
Ferdinand chose a particular variety, Rivers Purple, for their depth of colour, and they truly are a magnificent sight when the leaves are fresh, the shades ranging from pale orangey pink on the undersides to deep, almost iridescent maroon on the upper surface.
We’re lucky that lots of them still survive around the Garden – a feast for the eyes against a blue or even a grey sky on an early summer’s day and not to be missed.
By Pippa Shirley, Head of Collections and Gardens