Part of the Ilkeston Cam "Days Out" Series

Smisby - Bluebell Arboretum
w/e 17 June 2018
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

We recently took a pleasant drive out through Derby and over Swarkestone Bridge to the southern area of the county and the village of Smisby almost on the border with Leicestershire. Our destination was the Bluebell Nursery and Arboretum.

Wisteria Avenue

On entering the arboretum one of the first features to greet us was the "Wisteria Avenue", a collection of fourteen cultivars most of which were awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's highest award, the AGM (Award of Garden Merit).

Many of the species in the arboretum have adjacent informative blue signs and this small, hardy tree was identified as "x Laburnocystisus adamii" a remarkable "by-generic hybrid". The sign went on to say that the tree is the "dendrological equivalent of a hybrid between a cat and a dog" with yellow Laburnum panicles, purple broom flowers and racemes of coppery pink flowers. So now you know!
Many Paths

There are no designated routes through the arboretum although there are many paths. You just pay the entrance fee and than can wander where you will. There are also a few seats where you can enjoy the surroundings and one thing we noticed whilst there, was how quiet it was. You could even hear the birds sing.
Giant Reed

As well as the trees there are also many other plants and shrubs. The blue sign here is about the Giant Provence Reed which can be seen in this shot just to the left of the sign.
Redwood Ring

The tree in the centre of this ring is a Giant Redwood (or it will be when it grows) and the hedge around it has a circumference of 35 metres or 120 feet which is the same size as some of the trees growing in King's Canyon, California. The hedging plants are closely related to Redwoods and also grow into tall trees but have been chosen here because they respond well to clipping.

When the family owned business first moved to this site about 25 years ago it was just a field with a few scattered trees but in the intervening period they have planted many more. They are all at various stages of growth and this colourful Acer, "Princeton Gold" is one of the more recent plantings.
Handkerchief Tree

We recognised a young Handkerchief Tree from a distance but were unaware of its Latin name until we looked at the label.
Easy Maintenance

The Bluebell Nursery which was started in 1979 but when it moved to this site it kept the name Bluebell after the local pub at its original location in the nearby village of Blackfordby. Despite its name, there are very few bluebells to be found here. Whilst the nursery is the main business, the arboretum on the nine acre site has been developed as a sideline and a hobby project. Much thought has gone into it though even with the selection of grasses and wild flowers which allow for easy maintenance of the site.

There are many attractive corners all over the site enhanced by small streams and ponds with the associated water loving plants.
Shady Spot

One of the owners was on duty in the ticket office and was very helpful and knowledgeable about all the trees, shrubs and other plants. We spent a while talking to him and had a very enjoyable and relaxing couple of hours at the arboretum. He said another good time to visit would be in the autumn to see the changing colours - we might just do that - but at any time of year bringing a picnic and finding a shady spot like this one above could make for a lovely day out. For more information check out the Bluebell Arboretum website.
More images from this visit were added during the coronavirus lockdown in January 2021 - click here.

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