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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
We recognised a young Handkerchief Tree from a distance but were
unaware of its Latin name until we looked at the label.
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.
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
More images from this visit were added during the
coronavirus lockdown in January 2021 - click