|The magnificent Rhododendrons of Muckross House, Killarney, County Kerrry, Ireland.|
There are two Orientals plant that shows me that summer is finally on its way: the Rhododendron and the Azalea. They were originally brought back from Asia for their amazing architectural features and shelter for game on large country estates. They thrive in the acidic peaty soils of Ireland. In some parts of the Killarney park they have become a nuisance. Millions of pounds are spent around the world trying to control these invasive species. I have read that a lot of the Japanese Knot-weed came with the import of these plants.
I use to love visiting Cholmondley Castle gardens in Cheshire. It's quintessentially English with magnificent gardens (check out the Italian sunken garden), a great cafeteria with home made produce and Charles and Diana got engaged there. Not many people know that.