In line with Government advice, the Great Park currently remains open for you to take essential exercise, if you live locally. (You shouldn’t travel outside of your village, town or area of the city you live in).
To help keep everybody safe, when in the Park you must follow Government national lockdown rules.
Your safety, the safety of our staff and other Park visitors is our utmost priority. We will not hesitate to impose tighter restrictions if safety is compromised.
Before you leave home
Please note - there may be occasions where our team will ask you to move on if an area is becoming too crowded. Please respect their request.
If you are taking your daily exercise and are parking at The Savill Garden, please be aware of roadworks on Wick Road scheduled for the 25 January. Diversion signs will be in place.
Please can horse riders use the road from Timber Lodge crossroads to the cross-over point to the horse track leading to Ox Pond. This is due to the ground conditions of the adjacent horse track..
Timber harvesting in Swinley Forest
The Deer Park will be closed on Tuesday 26 January for operational reasons.
Planning a visit to the Great Park? Here are some tips to help you get the most from your visit.
The Punch Bowl was originally started back in 1948 and completed in 1951 from a wide selection of Kurume azaleas obtained from cuttings from the garden of John Barr Stevenson at Tower Court – one of the most renowned collections of Rhododendrons (including Azaleas) in the world. It was estimated that over 50,000 Azaleas were planted to create one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.
In the mid-nineteen eighties the then Gardens team, under the guidance of the Keeper of the Gardens - John Bond, instructed that the Azaleas needed to be pruned back. Thirty years later under the Keeper of the Gardens – John Anderson it was time to start the restoration of the Punch Bowl.
In May 2017 a plan was created to prune the Azaleas (mostly Kurume), once they had started to finish flowering.The strategy was clear. We would be pruning the Azaleas very hard back. In several cases, we would remove up to two metres of growth.
This project gave the team an opportunity to remove the years of litter and debris hidden amongst the dense growth. We utilised the better access to treat the ever-invading bracken fern which had become a nuisance in several places. We also removed the small stand of Abies procera ‘Glauca’ (Noble Firs), several of which were due to come down because of decay and, in some cases, hollow trunks.
Running parallel with this project was the propagation of several thousands of Azaleas by the propagation team which would be essential to give us the opportunity to replant several large areas at a later date.
Fast forward three years to 2020 and the Punch Bowl is getting back to where we want it to be and this spring, the Azalea bowl flowered very well. Over the past winter, our team added large quantities of leaf mould in preparation for new plantings of propagated Azaleas, which were planted in the gaps. They have also been diligently watering and controlling the outbreak of weeds.
Looking ahead, the plans are to continue to propagate the Azaleas and replant in large blocks over the next few years. The Azaleas will continue to be pruned back every year, depending on the growth. This pruning is to keep the Azalea compact and in good flowering condition. Such is our determination to keep the Punch Bowl the unique feature that it deserves to be, we have maintained the small fence around it to ensure that the team can continue to concentrate on the restoration.
We are keeping an eye on the ageing Japanese Maples, as some are beginning to show signs of slowing down and die back due to climate variations. This hotter and drier weather over longer periods of the year is having an impact on many other trees across The Valley Gardens and wider Great Park. There is a success story however as the Styrax japonica (Silverball Tree), a beautiful ornamental large shrub small tree, is loving the climate conditions in the Punch Bowl and is self-seeding abundantly!