LONDON - ENGLAND
2004 saw the 50th anniversary of one of the national treasures of Richmond Park, the Isabella Plantation.
This beautiful woodland garden houses a fine collection of
azaleas, including the National Collection of 50 Japanese azalea varieties
introduced to the West around 1920 by the famous plant collector Ernest Wilson.
Rhododendrons, camellias, and magnolias thrive under a mature woodland canopy
with many other acid-loving plants. Always cared for in traditional ways, since
1992 Isabella has been managed organically. Although beautiful at any time
of year the Isabella Plantation comes into its own as the azaleas and
rhododendrons bloom in April and May.
The creation of the garden took some four years of continuous labour before it was open to the public. People were slow to discover this hidden gem but a trickle of visitors has turned into a steady stream over the years. Richmond Park covers 2360 acres and was formerly a hunting park for Charles l in 1637. Herds of fallow and red deer still roam the park which is designated a National Nature Reserve.