Show Stopping Candelabra Primulas


Dazzling Davidia Involucrata



Minterne’s summertime extravaganza takes us all by surprise with some International flavours this month!

Normally found growing wild on hillsides in China, Minterne’s own Candelabra Primulas produce spikes of flowers in crimson fading to orange in summer. Partial shade in rich, moist soil of neutral to acid pH suit these clever little plants.

Tiers of rosette-like flowers burst into bloom to create a mass of vibrant colour. Ideal for damp, shady spots they are simply stunning in large groups around bog gardens and woodlands.

These SHOW STOPPERS are appearing in glorious technicolour – so don’t miss this chance to see them.


Commonly known as the ‘Pocket Handkerchief Tree’ dove-tree or ghost tree, this is one of nature’s amazing productions.

The Handkerchief tree was first described by French priest and naturalist Father Armand David on a trip to China in 1868; however, it was not introduced to Britain for another 35 years, and then only after a remarkable sequence of events.

Preserved specimens of Davidia involucrata had been sent to Kew, and nurseryman Henry Veitch expressed an interest in obtaining some seeds from which to grow the tree. In 1899 he commissioned a young Kew-trained botanist called Ernest Wilson to go to China to find the handkerchief tree. This presented a challenge for 22-year-old Wilson, who had never been abroad before and did not speak a word of Chinese!

With only a hand-drawn map and a few written instructions to guide him, Wilson set off into the remote Yunnan region of China in search of the single known existing specimen. On his way, he escaped local bandits, survived a potentially deadly illness and nearly drowned when his boat overturned in a rocky river. When he finally found the location of the tree, Wilson was mortified to discover that it had been cut down and used to build a house. Fortunately, he went on to find other specimens and was able to send seeds back to England in 1901. After spending many years in China, he also found hundreds of other plants and became famous in the process.

The foremost plant collector of his generation, he is commonly referred to by botanists and horticulturalists as EH ‘Chinese.’

He was also the first Westerner to describe the Giant Panda – we may be short of pandas at Minterne Gardens, but the Pocket Handkerchief Tree is in full bloom.

Feast your eyes on some of nature’s wondrous sights at Minterne Gardens this summer with more to follow as the seasons unfold.


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All images courtesy of Mark Bobin, Head Gardener

Gardens Open Daily
10am – 6pm    *    1st February to 8th November    *    Admission Price £6.00 (Children under 12 Free)
Season Tickets Available Here

Dogs welcome on leads    *    Parking is FREE for visitors in the car park opposite St Andrews Church    *    Minterne currently offers a selection of cream teas (weather permitting - please phone ahead to confirm)    *    Please note: Unfortunately, Minterne Gardens feature many uneven surfaces and are therefore NOT SUITABLE for wheelchairs    *    Minterne House itself is a private residence and therefore not open to the public without prior consent.