Drought Tolerant Gardens 2

RHS Hyde Hall.

In 1955 when Dr and Mrs Robinson came to Hyde Hall in 1955 there were only six trees on the top of a windswept hill and no garden. They donated the 42-acre garden, Hyde Hall, to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993. We visited there in August 2012 during our garden tour of Essex and East Anglia.

A dry garden was created in 2001 by Mathew Wilson, curator at the time, it aimed to show visitors how they can work with the environment and use drought-tolerant plants.

This path leads into the dry garden, described as one of the crowning achievements of Hyde Hall.

Work began in the winter of 2000, which ironically was one of their wettest winters. It is home to more than 400 different species of plant.

The garden has been built on a south-facing slope covering 0.4 acres, using Gabbro boulders and subsoil mounded over the rubble.

The topsoil was mixed with grit and sand to offer a free-draining environment for the plants.

On summer days, with the rolling hills in the backdrop, the garden looks rather like a Mediterranean outcrop, and it’s easy to forget that you are in the heart of Essex.

In spring, the garden shines with golden Euphorbia, conifers are included for winter interest and drought tolerance, while in summer it turns purple as Verbena bonariensis attracts hosts of butterflies and ornamental grasses towers high above the garden.

Such as the wonderful Stipa gigantea below. Alliums are planted for spring colour with Agapanthus, which you just see on the left for later in the year. Also on the left is Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ which provides colour over a long season.

Echinops ‘platinum blue’ and Verbascum olympicum enjoy these conditions.

Also, the beautiful Crinum Powelli is here with Eryngium planum.

From here you could look down onto the gravel or scree garden which had more recently been developed.

Some of the stars up close.

Hyde Hall is well worth a visit if you are in the area, this is only one of the many inspirational gardens within its boundary. Do you have any drought tolerant stars shining in your garden?

5 thoughts on “Drought Tolerant Gardens 2

  1. Another garden I would love to visit. This year it is not only the drought my poor plants have to put up with but the sun is scorching their leaves as we are having sun and sustained hours at over 30 degrees. I am going to try the Eryngium planum next year if I can, I have seen a huge blue thistle in a neighbouring garden that has been beautiful too. I try to keep as many Verbascum olympicum as I can as well as Verbena bonariensis. My Perovskia always falls over. It has been grown from purloined seeds so perhaps it is the wrong variety. Also my Nepeta has not let me down ever. Amelia


  2. It is certainly interesting to be reminded of the range of plants that do well in drier conditions. It was a few years later than this that we visited both Hyde Hall and Beth Chatto’s gardens on a very garden-weighted visit to the region! Not sure if my comments are reaching you Brian, so I have my fingers crossed!


    1. These have Cathy, I would think their gardens are fairing better than ours because they are more used to it. Some of the plants I currently grow just can not take these temperatures most notably some of the asters.


      1. Yes, it was the searing 40ish heat that did a lot of damage I think – some certainly seemed to happen overnight 🙄


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