The Himalayas come to mind when talking Rhododendrons, and we have the Victorian Plant Hunters to thank for the collection at Minterne Gardens.
Their explorations took them throughout China, Bhutan and the Himalayas in search of botanical species. Kingdon Ward, George Forrest, and Edmund Loder – all of these plant hunters were sponsored by many amateur garden enthusiasts in England under the umbrella of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Between 1850 and 1947 their trips, lasting up to 6 years each, introduced countless new exotic species to English Gardens. Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, to name but a few. The seed was shared around the sponsors who propagated this as a basis for exotic subtropical shrub gardens; the vast majority of species at Minterne were propagated from seed brought back by these explorers.

There is an amusing folktale about the Rhododendrons proposing marriage to the Alder Tree in winter & being rebuffed for its ugliness! But when Spring arrived with new “clothes” for the Rhododendron, the Alder changed his mind. The Rhododendron wounded from the insult about its ugliness, reminded the Alder of his words. The Alder was so embarrassed that it jumped off the cliff. And so, the Nepali folktale reminds us, the Rhododendron grows at the top of the mountains and Alder on the face of cliffs.
We might be short of mountains at Minterne Gardens, but we can still promise colossal Rhododendrons which tower over the valley.

This summer, leave the city behind, and step into this tranquil valley. Alive with birdsong, the air is crisp and the flowers are in bloom – a winning recipe to banish away the blues.


Set against the stunning backdrop of Minterne House in the Cerne Valley this year’s Spring Fair will be held on Sunday 15th May. With one of the best shrub gardens in England and 100-year old Rhododendrons & Azaleas at their peak splendour, this promises to be a popular day out for keen gardeners and their families.

As seen on BBC Gardeners’ World and voted One of the Ten Prettiest Gardens in England by The Times, there are wonderful walks in 27 acres of woodland garden through towering rhododendrons in full bloom collected since the 1800’s.

Craft Stands, Plant Stalls, Bouncy Castle, R.N.L.I. Souvenirs, Food, Cakes & Cream Teas & Classic cars will be some of the attractions on offer; alongside demonstrations from the Longbow Champion.

This year we are hosting the Spring Fair in collaboration with the R.N.L.I, and the day starts at 11.00am and ends at 4.30pm. Entrance is £4 with accompanied children free.

Will you be joining us on Sunday 15th May? Why not let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments below!


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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.