Exbury Gardens Storm Damage Report
Edmund L. de Rothschild
Many of your readers may be interested to know about the severe damage caused by the hurricane force winds of the 16th, October, 1987, which hit the south of England. They may have heard somewhat exaggerated reports that the Exbury Gardens had been virtually destroyed. I am glad to say that this is misleading. Whilst some of the canopy of oaks over the areas affected will no longer be there, the bulk of the plants have survived. The Rock Garden, Bog Garden, Nursery Area and Plant Centre, as well as many other areas, have only been superficially damaged, in fact there should be plenty of colour next spring and the large leaved rhododendrons, which include Rh. 'Fortune', have been almost untouched.
Whilst there is an immense amount of clearing up to be done the overall total tree loss is unlikely to be more than 5%. An approximate count suggests that some 350 oaks and 150 conifers have been uprooted and a further 50 badly damaged trees will have to be felled. Out of the tens of thousands of plants it is estimated that only some 900 will have to be replaced.
It will be stimulating and exciting to replant those areas damaged by the storm and we shall be re-landscaping these and planting many new varieties of trees as well as young oaks to come to maturity in the years ahead. Also it will be opportune to include a further selection of the best American hybrid rhododendrons and azaleas, many of which are in the Gardens and already giving great pleasure to our visitors. If any of your readers have visited Exbury previously, when they next come we are sure they will be more than interested to see the reconstruction of these magnificent Gardens which, by comparison with the appalling damage to other gardens in the South of England, are among the more fortunate.
Editor's note: A phone call from Edmund de Rothschild confirmed that gardens throughout the London area and the south of England had suffered varying degrees of storm damage. This damage will be cleared over the winter and all gardens expect to be open for viewing this spring as usual.