Whistlestop Nymans


Following Whistlestop Wisley in February, I made another hasty garden visit at the weekend, this time to the National Trust garden at Nymans.

The garden was developed by three generations of the Messel family, after Ludvig Messel bought the 600 acre Nymans estate in the late 19th century.  Together with his head gardener, James Comber, he developed the garden, including building up collections of three of my (possibly) least favourite genera – camellias, rhododendrons and ericas.  However they also collected numerous magnolias, which were looking stunning during my visit.  This one in particular, Magnolia ‘Charles Raffill’, a cross between M. Campbellii and M. Mollicomata, was absolutely magnificent.



And I’ve never seen such enormous Magnolia stellata.IMG_0152

As well as the wonderful magnolias, there were thousands of beautiful bulbs.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Narcissus together with Cornus (I assume ‘Midwinter Fire’) but I think this was really striking.IMG_0165

Another favourite bulb of mine is Fritillaria meleagris – just look at these beauties.IMG_0129IMG_0130

Whilst there was evidence of winter in the still blooming Hellebores, IMG_0162

there were also many signs of spring, including these gorgeous Paeonia delavayi buds.IMG_0158

I thought I might be tempted in the nursery,  but there really wasn’t much of interest.  However, in the roped off area, look at all these sweeties.  I think the pink pots denote that the plants have been grown at Nymans in peat free compost.IMG_0154


Nymans is a garden I’ve wanted to visit for years and, as I was close by, I popped in. However, I don’t really think I did it justice.  Ideally I’d like to return on an occasion when I could have a proper garden tour to appreciate more of the rare, exotic species collected by the Messels from around the world, including particularly China and Chile and Tasmania. And preferably late in the summer, when I won’t be expected to admire the Rhododendrons and Camellias. 😉

12 thoughts on “Whistlestop Nymans

  1. Cathy

    Thanks so much for that! I was lucky enough to be sent by the National Trust to visit Nymans when I was writing a book about bulbs for them many years ago. The memories have stayed with me – to the extent that part of my own garden is based on the walled garden at Nymans – but of course mine will never be as splendid in my lifetime (and someone else will pull out the plants when I’m gone!). So lovely to see it again – the thing that I carried away after my visit was the ‘mood’ of the garden – and I doubt I am clever enough to recreate! Since I can’t visit, your post is the next best thing!

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  3. jenhumm116 Post author

    I assume there was a ‘Leonard Messel’ at Nymans, as you must be right, that’s surely where it came from, but sadly I didn’t spot it.
    You do need space for Magnolia, so sadly I don’t have one, although at this time of year I always wonder about a Stellata….

  4. Cathy

    And this year I was noticing for the first time how relatively small M stellata grew – obviously I was wrong! Well done for admitting your dislike of certain species – I still remember the reaction when I admitted to not liking mahonia…! 😉 And thanks for sharing Nymans – we ‘blitzed’ several gardens and properties in Sussex one long weekend a few years ago but I honestly can’t remember if Nymans was one of them…


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