Witcher’s Wood is named after a family of charcoal-burners called Witcher who used to live in there. It contains many fine specimens of ornamental trees. Of particular note are Bewer’s Spruce, Picea breweriana, from the Siskyu mountains of California.
There is Juniperus recurve var. coxii and Juniperus recurve, known as the Coffin Tree because their aromatic wood is so highly esteemed by the Chinese for making coffins. Also from China is an Empress or Foxglove Tree, Paulowina tomentosa, which is recorded as gracing gardens there as early as the third century B.C.
Several Magnolias grow here including the Bigleaf Magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla, which has the largest leaves and flowers of any tree or shrub hardy in the British Isles.
Witcher’s Wood lies between Lover’s Lane and the Main Drive.
View of the Beaulieu River
Lover’s Lane leads towards the Beaulieu River. On each side are the banks of the Solent deciduous azaleas; this strain is more recent than the Knap Hill or Exbury azaleas, bearing more delightfully scented flowers with larger and tighter trusses. The colours span a spectrum from the pure white of R. ‘Mrs Antony Seys’ to the butter-yellow of R. ‘HRH Princess Margaret’ and on through the dark orange of R. ‘Beaulieu Manor’ to the deep red of R. ‘Bull’s Run’.
The central part of this Wood is one of the least formalised areas in the garden, and here can be found some of the most strikingly mature rhododendrons – the magnificent reds of Rhododendron ‘Kiev’ and Rhododendron ‘Gaul’ and the aptly named Rhododendron ‘Avalanche’, which sheds a carpet of white flowers, to name just a few. Straying from the main path, small grassy paths provide the visitor with glimpses of some of the taller and most beautiful rhododendrons in the garden.