Californian Tree Poppy

Certainly, one of the most talked about plants this month is the Californian Tree Poppy also known as Romneya coulteri. As the name suggests it is native to California and northern Mexico, preferring a warm, sunny spot soil with good drainage. Its distinguishing features include Big white flowers with a bright yellow middle (some might say it Looks like a huge fried egg, so it’s fittingly placed right next to our tearoom!).

It is a semi-evergreen suckering herbaceous perennial, which grows to 2m in height and spreads to 2m in width. It has divided, grey-green leaves. The flowers are large (approx. 15cm in across) and it has crinkled, pure white petals and a boss of deep yellow stamens. The plant flowers from June till August.

Marwood’s tree poppy was planted 5 years ago by our previous head gardener. It has grown slowly and steadily since, flowering each year but not impressively so. This year it has grown a tremendous amount and become smothered in flowers. Planted very close to a large tearoom window, it can be viewed from two sides and has drawn interest from dinners and garden visitors.

In spring the area around the plant was weeded and cleared, in preparation for the development of the Mediterranean planting scheme in the surrounding bed. We have had some incredibly warm and dry weather. These have combined to form some ideal growing conditions for our tree poppy.

Romneya resents disturbance, however after several years the plant can become Invasive. Its spreading tubers can undermine nearby slabs or patios, possibly a worry for our nearby tearoom. It can be kept under control by pruning to the ground every two or three years. Vigorous new shoots are more floriferous and more manageable as a result.

Naturally, garden visitors have been asking us whether it would be possible to buy this plant from us and the answer is unfortunately, not yet. First, we need to propagate from it. Romneya coulteri Is famously hard to propagate and expensive to buy as the plant won’t root from cuttings. Instead, a novel technique of encouraging the root suckers to grow then exposing to light, causes it to produce new shoots. These shoots can then be removed from the parent plant and grown on. This is exactly what we intend to do! Hopefully many plants should be available to buy from us in 2023 so keep a look out on our online sales and plant sales shop…

Marwood Hill Gardens win big at Hampton Court

Hopefully those of you who are reading this already know Marwood Hill Gardens - renowned locally for their beautiful Gardens and tasty tearoom. The Gardens are also home to an abundance of gorgeous and colourful plants and flowers, including four National Collections.

This year decided to take one of those National Collections, Astilbes, all the way to Hampton Court Flower Show, and it is a good job we did, as we won. TWICE!

Our beautiful and colourful volcano of Astilbes was awarded not only a RHS Gold Medal, but also the Best Plant Heritage Exhibit by the judges.

Marwood Hill Gardens Collection of Astilbes started in 1990, and today is one of the largest collections anywhere in the world. With visits to Holland and Germany to seek out “lost” cultivars, and developing contacts in Latvia and Russia, our collection has grown to over 200 different species and cultivars (and is still growing).

Malcolm Pharoah, Marwood’s retired head gardener (and still a full-time volunteer and wonderman!) oversaw the running and execution of the display at Hampton Court Flower Show which won. It is no small feat and has taken many months of hard work and preparation, with staff and volunteers alike involved with the set-up, planning and preparation, as well as the running of the plant stall during the show. It is only the second time in Marwood’s history that we have ever exhibited Astilbes at such a large and prestigious event.

Malcolm has tirelessly dedicated himself to the propagation, care and promotion of Astilbes and his commitment has certainly paid off – Malcolm was awarded the prestigious Plant Heritage Brickell Award in 2020. Malcolm will also be celebrating 50 years at Marwood later this year, and what a way to celebrate!

Astilbes flower from Mid-June until early September, but generally look at their best in July. They can grow in a range of soil types, and contrary to popular belief many Astilbes will fare well in drier and shadier conditions than first thought, so if you are interested in purchasing one, don’t despair there will be a suitable Astilbe for your garden!

Marwood Hill Garden join Plant Heriatge at Hampton Court Flower Show

 We are really exciting to be going to Hampton Court Flower Show this year!

If you haven’t noticed already, we are quite proud of our National Collection of Astilbes at Marwood Hill Garden so we thought it high time that we shared a taste of our collection with the world! Reknowned astilbe expert, Malcolm Pharoah will be represting Marwood Hill Garden along with other members of the Marwood team, showing off our collection of astilbes at Hampton Court as part of the Plant Heritage collection!

If you want learn any more about astilbes, from the history of astibles, how to look after astilbes, or even buy astibles get in touch or come and say hi at the stand!


Flower Show Dates

4th - 9th July 2022

Flower Show Timings

Monday to Friday: 10 AM to 6:30 PM

Saturday: 10 AM to 5:30 PM

Tickets can be purchased here

We are hoping to have a number of different events at Marwood Hill Garden this season. If you would like to run an even with us, please get in touch with our Business Manager, Georgia, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Having recently moved into the Parish of Marwood, I found myself frequenting Marwood Garden and the Tea Rooms, and both quickly became a favourite spot of mine – one of my highlights last year was watching the Folksy Theatre’s performance of The Tempest with my fiancé, mother, father and grandmother!


Having experienced a little of what Marwood Gardens has to offer to both locals and tourists alike, I was very excited when I was offered the Business Manager role here.

I think that in this day and age, the importance of places like Marwood Gardens is being increasing recognised, both for humankind and wildlife alike. The ability to escape from sitting in front of a screen and to be inspired by nature, such as the Wisteria Arbor, or having the opportunity to perch on a bench in front of magical views, listening to the buzzing of bumblebees, providing much needed tranquillity and the opportunity for quiet contemplation. 

I cannot wait to get stuck in, learn more about this magical garden and it’s history, and to meet all of our wonderful visitors when our gates re-open!

Galanthus 'S.Arnott' - White Gold

Exquisitely intricate and beautifully refined, snowdrops can be admired both in isolation and are fantastic viewed on mass. Snowdrops as a group are very diverse, there are in total 19 species found flowering across the globe, from Europe to Iran, occurring mainly in upland woodland but also rocky sites. 


The Snowdrop has received a lot of attention from plant breeders as there are 1,500 named varieties recorded - each bulb different in a subtle way, a green mark here, a yellow mark there, sometimes these characteristics are only discernable when viewed through an expert eye, which makes this bulb incredibly collectable.  

The snowdrop seen most frequently at Marwood Hill Garden, is Galanthus S. ‘Arnott’. As a cultivar it is bigger, more robust and taller than the species snowdrops. Closer inspection reveals the plant has a captivating, honey like fragrance. This snowdrop has been extensively planted throughout the garden, great masses can be seen along the entrance lane, around the tearoom, and above the bog garden. 

Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ is in flower from late winter till mid spring. Each snowdrop produces a graceful arching pendant bloom, the flower is white and pear shaped made up of 3 small inner petals, terminating with a green mark and three larger unmarked outer spreading petals (tepals). Framing each flower is a cluster of neat slim mid green strap shaped leaves. The flowers are said to do better the colder and gloomier the weather, and this year they seem to be doing particularly well. It does well beneath deciduous trees and grows very well on north facing sloping sites.

No cutting back is required after flowering. Snowdrops are very hardy, happy in full sun or shade, tolerating most soil conditions providing they're not completely waterlogged. The larger nature and vigour of S. Arnott makes it particularly suited to our damp and boggy soils. It is a very versatile bulb and can be planted in a wide range of locations, thriving in containers, lawns, flower beds, providing interest when all other plants have died down for the winter. 




Hesperantha coccinea


Hesperantha coccinea is commonly known as the Crimson Flag Lily.

             Hesperantha coccinea Major

 Hesperantha coccinea MajorBefore I came to Marwood Hill Gardens, all I knew about this plant was that it had a very complex sounding name ‘Schizostylis’. No sooner had I committed this name to memory, it was changed again to an equally complex new name ‘Hesperantha’( much to my frustration).

I vividly remember seeing this flower when I started working at Marwood ( October 2019) because of its jewel like blooms which could be seen dotted across the garden. It is prominent in the walled terracing, along the edge of the herbaceous borders and planted along the steamside. It really is impressive.

Marwood has a number of different cultivars including Hesperantha ‘alba’ (white), Hesperantha coccinea ‘Sunrise’ (mid-pink), Hesperantha ‘Mrs Hegarty’ (pale-pink), and the later flowering Hesperantha ‘November Cheer’ (dark-pink) and Hesperantha major ‘Coccinea’ (red). The red is a personal favourite of mine.

For much of the year Hesperantha is quite unassuming. It is part of the Iris family and has glaucous-green grass-like foliage reaching 60cm in height. It could easily be mistaken for any other species of Iris growing in the garden.  However it is simply biding its time, waiting for September when the other plants start to fade. Suddenly it strikes out, with slender spikes of silky, cup- shaped blooms.

Hesperantha is an ideal plant to keep the garden looking good until the first frosts of winter. Its late flowering nature is easily explained when you consider that it is native of South Africa. Spring in South Africa is a time when water is more plentiful and a good time for flowering. Autumn in the UK coincides with spring in the southern hemisphere. Put simply despite being thousands of miles away from its home Hesperantha continues to follow its natural flowering cycles.  


   Hesperantha coccinea Sunrise

Hesperantha coccinea Sunrise


In South Africa this plant can be found growing in mountainous areas, by the sides of streams and in moist, grassy areas, which explains its tough and resilient nature when grown in the UK. It prefers to be planted in a sunny spot but is not fussy about what soil it is planted into. It self seeds very readily and can be propagated by both seed and division after flowering.


It is also incredibly popular with our garden visitors and was one of the best sellers here in Autumn 2020. Why not visit our plants sales area and buy one yourself, they are also available via our online shop.

 Varieties avaialble via our online shop or at our Walled Garden Nursery

 Hesperantha coccinea 'Sunrise' | Marwood Hill Gardens

 Hesperantha ‘November Cheer’ | Marwood Hill Gardens

 Hesperantha coccinea Major AGM | Marwood Hill Gardens







Astilbe chinensis 'Brokat'


One of the best and most striking Astilbe varieties is also one of the last to flower. This showstopper flowers late in the season, through August and into September. It produces masses of attractive ferny foliage, with architectural upright plumes of vibrant feathery flowers.


Astilbe chinensis Brokat in the garden ‘Brokat’ is a chinensis type astilbe. This means it is more drought tolerant than other species of Astilbes. It can be planted away from the stream edge and within herbaceous borders. it contrasts well with the fiery colours of late summer perennials, such as Kniphofia (red hot poker), Helenium and Rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan) It is a medium to tall Astilbe at 60-90cm, it prefers full sun and is very vigorous so will quickly form a large clump.

It would be fair to say there aren’t any other flowers as excitingly purple in the garden at this time of year. This vibrance of this colour brings to mind images of Cadbury chocolate box. Astilbes are generally pest free, not fussy and very easy to propagate. Great news for any gardeners – especially at Marwood Hill Gardens where we hold the national collection. If you are lucky enough to have these, at intervals of three to four years simply lift these plant and divide. Autumn division is best. However, be prepared to sacrifice an old pruning saw as the job of division can become tricky. You need a strong arm as the roots can become quite woody with age. Divided plants can be either potted up or replanted back in the ground. You can use any potting compost but I can happily report that peat-free bark-based compost works very well. (as well as being good for the planet) Regular division encourages increased flowering.



Astilbe chinensis Brokat
Other astilbes to flower in late August include ‘Visions in Red’, ‘Salmonea’ (pink), ‘Walkerie’ (magenta), ‘Visions’, ‘Purple Glory’.

We sell Astilbe ‘Brokat’ in our plant centre and our online shop. it is very popular and every year it sells out quickly so catch this beauty for your garden while you can.












Marwood Heritage Collection

Marwood Hill Garden's newest National Collection.

This collection is the result of 70 years of plant cultivation resulting in the wonderful and diverse collection we see today in the gardens. It builds on work of the original founder Dr Jimmy Smart and Malcolm Pharaoh (former Head Gardener). The collection show cases a range of plants that are unique to Marwood, many of which were selected, bred, raised or gifted to the garden.

The collection includes the following plants:

Malcolm Pharoah is awarded Plant Heritage’s prestigious Brickell Award 2020

The National Collection Holder grows over 200 cultivars of Astilbe at Marwood Hill Garden, Devon

Horticultural charity Plant Heritage is delighted to award north Devon-based Malcolm Pharoah, with their prestigious Brickell Award 2020, for his National Plant Collection of Astilbe held at Marwood Hill Gardens.