The Grove is an informal garden in a woodland setting. It contains spring bulbs, a very large collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and a wide range of other flowering shrubs and exotic trees, including varieties of oak, birch, magnolia, prunus, sorbus, malus, kalmia and hydrangea. Particularly colourful in spring, The Grove provides a most attractive walk throughout the season and visitors frequently comment on its peacful atmosphere.
The Grove in its woodland setting has been a passion of Lord Ashbrook for nearly 50 years.
It is peaceful place for a winter wander and leads directly to the Woodland Walk where you will find drifts of snowdrops in January and February.
Other narcissi and spring-flowering bulbs can be found throughout The Grove, which is one of the first parts of Arley to show signs of life each year.
There is a wide range of flowering shrubs and trees including varieties of oak, birch, magnolia, prunus, sorbus, malus, kalmia and hydrangea.
However, in Spring it is the 400 varieties of rhododendron that steal the show with a dazzling display of colour from whites, to pinks, yellows, reds and purples.
The collection has been one of Lord Ashbrook’s main contributions to Arley’s gardens, something he started around 50 years ago.
His passion for rhododendrons began in 1970 soon after his mother, Lady Ashbrook, consulted garden designer James Russell about changes to the estate’s gardens.
Russell spotted potential in an underdeveloped corner called The Grove and left a sketch on the back of an envelope detailing his vision for it.
“It sparked off something in my mind and within an hour I was down there clearing brambles and nettles,” said Lord Ashbrook.
“I suddenly became smitten with the idea of ornamental trees, shrubs and rhododendrons growing in this area and developing an interesting woodland walk.”
Despite always having an interest in Arley’s gardens, and helping his mother when he was a boy, it was the first time he’d gardened properly.
It was the start of something big as The Grove became a passion for Lord Ashbrook and, when he moved to Arley in 1977, the development of the area gathered pace.
Many native trees were uprooted and beds were planted among areas of mown grass. By 1982 it was ready to be opened to the public.
The collection people see today is one of the finest in the North West.