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Posts Tagged ‘galanthus’

Ever since I wrote about year round scent a few weeks ago, I’ve had it in mind to look our for some Iris unguicularis at this week’s show. ‘Mary Barnard’ is a tallish variety, up to 12inches in height and spread, and comes with a gentle scent too. I’ve planted these at the bottom of a south-facing wall as they like sun and poor, well-drained soil, and right by the back door so as they clump up over the years, I’ll have this cheerful sight and delicate perfume at the beginning of each year.

I saw these Irises along with the sumptuous and uplifting display of  Snowdrops on the Avon bulbs stand.

Helpful as ever and always supplying quality bulbs which return year after year, I also caught sight of the exquisite Crocus tommasianus and have written a note to self to order these in the autumn for a lush pink carpet in our community front garden come next spring.

Ashwood Nurseries always delight and I particularly liked the gorgeous simplicity of this Hellebore ‘Anna’s Red’,

shown en masse on their stand this year. Hellebores, Crocus tommasianus and snowdrops are also great for pollinators who will be on the hunt for food early on in the year so doubly worth planting.

Further back in the hall was Sea Spring Seeds, supplying a tempting selection of veg seeds which have been put through their paces in their own market garden. I picked up some interesting Japanese leaves, such as Red Knight Mizuna, Golden Streak Mustard leaf and Tatsoi Yukina Savoy and also got chatting about their comprehensive selection of Chili seeds. Chili seeds can be sown indoors now and into March and grown on indoors in a greenhouse or sunny windowsill. I also wanted to know if Sea Spring seeds supplied any varieties that could be grown on outdoors. Joy Michaud recommended ‘Super Chile’ as it’s such a fast grower and hopefully it will ripen out-of-doors if given the sunniest of spots. Worth trying as part of our community veg growing project this year for some neighbours who like it hot.

Further travels around the show revealed the creative use of recycled objects and pots on the D’Arcy and Everest alpine stand,

and I did purchase a few Sempervivum to try out some recycling of domestic objects at home too.

And finally, couldn’t resist buying a Rubus lineatus on the Crug Farm Nursery stand for its crinkly yet soft palmate leaves. Rubus is such a great family of plants including the Japanese wineberry, Rubus phoenicolasius, Blackberries, Rubus fruticosus and I did spot a rather intriguing plant,

Rubus ulmifolius bellidiflorus, wild, but with amazing pink pompom flowers, at the Hampton Court Flower Show last summer. Can feel an obsession coming on.

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Spring has sprung at Great Dixter. I have just spent 4 glorious days volunteering at this heavenly garden in East Sussex. Heavenly, because no matter what time of year you visit, there are always plants to discover which will delight and knowledgable gardeners who will happily identify these wonderful plants for you. It’s slightly overwhelming to know where to start, but here are some of the plants and practices that I picked up on when I was there.

Great Dixter is gearing up for its first opening of the year and the gardens are putting on a great show. Hellebores ranging from pure whites to deep purples abound,

and Snowdrops (Galanthus), in many shapes and sizes, (and available from the Great Dixter Nursery!) are carpeting the ground in many of the borders.

Together, they make sumptuous combinations.

Tucked away in the shadows of a Fatsia japonica was a Pachyphragma macrophyllum (above) who’s purest white flowers shone out from the shade. This is certainly a plant I will seek out to plant in shadier gardens and is available from, amongst others, Beth Chatto’s nursery in Essex (who offer mail order) and Beeches Nursery in Suffolk.

Crocuses glowing in the sun, and seen en masse in the fields of Great Dixter, really seem to capture the spirit of the place.

Cardimine quinquefolia, above, and appearing in many areas of the gardens at this time of year, is altogether a much more delicate affair and a fantastic companion to a purple Hellbore or a dark-leaved Bergenia.

Add the vibrant green of the flower heads of a Euphobia foetidus, E.robbiae or E.wulfenii (above), and you can really create a very lively spring grouping indeed.

Mahonia japonica is not just a pretty face. It’s vibrant architectural form is also accompanied by the sweetest of scents, akin to that of Lily of the valley. If your Mahonia is looking rather top heavy and ‘leggy’ then wait for the flowers and berries to finish then cut right back down to a few buds above ground level, and it will grow back nice and bushy from where you pruned to.

James is thinning out a black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) so that the stems will become see-through and have more of an impact. Here’s a before pic.

And an after pic.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ still has an impact with its upright form throughout the coldest months.

And Yew hedging and topiary play an important role in the garden, giving structure and height to the borders in winter and providing a contrasting background to the perennial plants throughout the rest of the year.

(more…)

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I realise that what I appreciate most about this show is that many of the nursery owners are on hand and are so willing to talk to customers at length (if desired!) about their plants. This means that you are getting access to crème de la crème advice from these very knowledgeable growers at this cosy, yet vibrant show. Here’s what caught my attention at this year’s show:

Just one look, and I fell in love with this Asplenium scolopendrium crispum on the Fibrex stand (above). As Richard from Fibrex dashed away to find me a few more of these gorgeous ferns, I found myself serving customers on this very busy stand, and rather enjoyed it too as customers were so enthusiastic about the plants that they were buying. Fibrex will be back again in London for the RHS Great London Plant Fair 29 – 30 March 2011 if you’re tempted to buy some of these alluring sculptural forms.

Stealing the show as you entered one of the halls was the amazingly surreal show of technicolor Hepaticas on the Ashwood Nursery stand. John Massey and his very friendly staff were all on hand to give advice. Hepaticas come from snow-melt regions so need moisture to induce flowers in spring. However, in their mountain woodlands, the soil dries out later in the year, so, according to John, ‘no soggy bottoms’ in summer, demands that they are planted in soil with excellent drainage. If you have the right growing conditions, you could plant up a riotously colourful treat in your garden for spring. Also noticed on the Ashwood Nurseries website, that John Massey’s private 3 acre garden in the west midlands is open to the public on March 19th / April 23rd / June 4th / July 23rd /September 24th between 10am and 4pm and also October 16th on behalf of the NGS. I’m making sure that I go and visit on at least one of these dates!

Family run Oxford Green Roofs offer to design bespoke green roofs and will also put together workshops for community groups to pass on their knowledge and expertise. Cogs in my brain are already turning to think where we could run such a project for our community group here in N.London. They also have DIY guides which can be bought from their website for £12.00, which give instructions on how to build your own green roof, for example- for a garden shed or a bike shed, using only materials that are readily available in DIY stores. Sounds like a fantastic weekend project for my bijou shed-feel like another blog coming on!

Spotted this lovely Hakea salicifolia on the Plantbase stand (‘hardy plants from tender places’) which comes from woodlands in S.E Australia. Seems to tick all the boxes for growing trees in London in that it will grow in shade but is drought tolerant and will put up with winter rain and temperatures down to minus 8 degrees. Sufficiently intrigued, I’m off to visit the nursery in E.Sussex on my way down to Great Dixter this week -will keep you updated on other tasty hardy plants that I find on my travels.

Another family run and very friendly nursery is Foxgrove plants from Newbury in Berkshire. Just missed their ‘Snowdrop Saturday’, but snowdrops can still be seen at the nursery, plus Hellebores (originally from Helen Ballard stock), winter Aconites (Eranthis Hyemalis) and Cyclamen coum. Check their website for opening times and go and visit for an early spring treat.

Crug Farm Plants continue to delight. This Exbucklandia tonkinensis (above) is not available yet and is going through it’s paces for hardiness but was a lovely sight to behold.

Also very pleased with this Pittosporum illiciodes var angustifolium (name trips off the tongue I know) which I had pre-ordered from Crug Farm nursery. It is definitely hardy and I can’t wait to see how it grows in my garden. It can take semi- shade, has fragrant yellow flowers and its leaves become longer in the shade too. What an exciting plant!

Next RHS London show is the RHS Great London Plant Fair 29 – 30 March 2011. I’ll be checking the website to see what nurseries will be attending and also have my eye on a talk from a very interesting Garden Designer. Looking forward to it already.

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