Rhododendron display at Cragside are expected to be the best in years due to a mild winter and wet April.
An enormous number of flower buds are now bursting with colour at the National Trust’s Cragside in Rothbury. Created by Lord Armstrong Crageside’s gardens and estate were intended to replicate the rhododendron forests of the Himalayas in India.
Gardener Neil Cuthbertson says this year’s displays promise to be spectacular. “The whole estate is awash with pink, purple, white and red rhododendrons, complimented by the scented yellow and orange azaleas,” he said. “You can explore the estate on foot as we have over 40 miles of footpaths, or by car around our six mile carriage drive. Either way, this is a great year to visit as we’re expecting the best display in five years. The number of flowers buds ready to bloom is phenomenal.”
Rhododendron flower buds form in autumn. Weather conditions in Northumberland in the autumn and winter 2011-12, as well as the spring months have had an impact on the survival of the buds. During harsh winters the stems snap under the weight of the heavy snow and a hot dry spring will reduce the longevity of the bloom. However, this year, the combined mild winter and April rain means that there are simply masses of flower buds that are predicted to last a good few weeks.
Neil continued: “The rhododendrons at Cragside are in bloom from mid May to mid June. With over 100 varieties spread out across the rock garden and wider estate, it’s no wonder people come back each year to see Lord Armstrong’s historic estate in all its glory.”
The National Trust is will open late in the evening during Whit week late night. Visitors will be able to to enjoy and appreciate the rhododendron blooms in the evening light. Justine James, Customer Development Manager at Cragside said: “We’re open until 9pm on the 6, 7 and 8 June for visitors and supporters.
“Cragside is wonderful in the evening light, particularly when the rhododendrons are in bloom. We want to give people the chance to pop in after work, or at a quieter time of day, to have a cuppa and something to eat, and then take a walk or drive around the estate.”