Surprising sights at Southsea Rock Garden

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A visit to Southsea Rock Garden during the next few weeks will reward you with some surprising sights.

You will see snowdrops, crocus and narcissus all in bloom together.

Snowdrops are generally the ‘Heralds of Spring’, followed by crocus and then narcissus in March.

This year everything is so topsy-turvy due to the mild conditions throughout winter – even camellias are blooming !

On arrival at the garden, take time to look at my notice board bulletin which highlights other plants to look out for on your stroll through the garden.

The garden is just east of the Pyramids.

It opened in 1928 and has remained a favourite place for residents ever since.

If you have family or friends visiting I do hope that you will make time to take them along there.

As well as the flowers and shrubs, there are lots of resident birds, so you may catch a glimpse of the shy wrens, the friendly robins and the jaunty blackbirds.

Creating rock gardens was very popular in the early years of the 20th century.

Splendid examples can be found at Kew Gardens, RHS Wisley, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as well as in many seaside resorts around the UK, including Ventnor, Bournemouth, Folkestone, Torquay and Llandudno.

Our rock garden is looked after by the council’s horticultural contractors The Landscape Group, with one full-time gardener working there.

She is helped on Wednesdays by a small enthusiastic team of volunteers who weed, prune, plant and generally help to keep the garden looking good throughout the seasons.

Over the past year a ‘lost’ pond has been re-instated and it is gradually settling back into the landscape and attracting wildlife once again.

Much work has gone into re-invigorating the screen beds by lifting the large sunken rocks, so that they once again stand proud of the soil level and set off the newly planted alpines.

Top dressing with fine grit has further enhanced these areas of low-growing colourful plants.

Call into the garden any Wednesday morning and speak to Malcolm or Ros if you think that you would enjoy working with the team to keep this garden looking good for each and every person who visits. You will be made most welcome.

Jackie Baynes is author of An Earthly Fairyland -– the Story of Southsea Rock Garden.