Posts Tagged ‘cyclamen coum’

As Van Morrison said, ‘No guru, no method, no teacher, Just you and I and nature…………….   in the garden’ (‘In the Garden’ from No Guru, No Method) . I love going out every morning before I head off for the day and seeing what’s new, especially at this time of year where new growth appears daily. This Hacquetia epipactis (originally bought from Beeches Nursery near Saffron Waldon in Essex) is a mad little mound of luminescent daisy-like yellowy-green flowers which is happiest in semi shade or full shade. Being a woodland plant it likes a moist spring and a drier summer. It certainly made my day!

Would look great with the pinks and blues of Pulmonaria officinalis (and I’ve just dug up a clump and planted them nearby)

or the strong deep pinks of these Cylamen coums.

My Clematis armandii is stunning with its mass of star-like flowers, although this year I’ll give it a bit of a prune when it’s finished flowering as its exuberant nature has it climbing up trees and spreading far beyond where I originally planned it to grow. Performs best on a sunny wall. Specialist Clematis growers, Thorncroft nurseries have 3 different varieties of Clematis armandii and an enormous range of the most beautiful Clematis for all seasons and aspects. Definitely worth a look.

The snowdrops are over, but the Hellebores are still looking gorgeous,

and I have noticed a clump of Nigella (self-seeded) seedlings which are happily growing despite the recent frost and colder nights. They’re obviously more hardy than I thought. Must dig these up and pot them on sometime soon.

I received a good list of ‘things to do in the 3rd week in January” from Andrew Babicz’s blog today too, including sowing sweet pea seeds and tomato seeds indoors, which I did about a week ago and happily all seeds have germinated  (thanks Nicky’s seeds). Still time to order seeds and to start planting in the garden too! (blog to follow)

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This time last year I went on a study day at Great Dixter in E.Sussex. It was one of the most enjoyable things I did all year. The next course ‘Preparing Your Border for Spring and Summer-The Practicalities’ is on March 28th.

Head Gardener Fergus Garrett (above) leads the courses which usually run from 10 -4.30, with lunch included and a 10% discount is offered on plants bought in the nursery. On this particular course ‘Fergus will show you how to cut down, split and replant perennials, thin out self-sowers, pruning, composts and working in the rain without ruining the structure of your soil. Essential winter maintenance work will be covered on this very practical orientated day.’ Sounds wonderful and you will learn a lot.

In the meantime, the gardens are open for 2 weekends for a viewing on ‘winter structure and winter interest including snowdrops, crocuses, hellebores and much more’ on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th February 2011 and Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th March 2011

The course that I attended last year in January was on successional planting-how to have interest in your garden all year round. Here are the highlights of the day for me.

Great Dixter in January

Had a wonderful day at Great Dixter in January 2010. I attended (with friend Lucy, and 8 other gardeners) a day course run by Head Gardener Fergus Garrett on successional planting . The morning was spent  (by a toasty open log fire) listening to an indepth talk on the borders at Dixter, illustrated by 200 slides of wonderful plant combinations-for example; Blue Amiable tulips with Mellow Yellow aquilegias- a riot of colour or Petunia ‘Purple Wave’ and Colchicums in flower together-rich and luscious.

Choosing good plants was another area he talked about. For example, when choosing a blue Geranium, varieties which have a long flowering season (up to 3 months) such as; ‘Russell Pritchard, ‘Mavis Simpson’ and ‘Jolly Bee’ are a much better option than ‘Johnson’s Blue’ which only flowers for 3 weeks.

Lucy enjoying all the expertise that Fergus had to offer

Or making sure that Hellenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’ is deadheaded after it has flowered in July so that come September you will have a second wave of flowers. He stressed avoiding competing  combinations so that plants can live together. For example, a Mahonia looks great in winter, but in summer Clematis triternata rubra-marginata is used to cover it to add more colour to the border. A different clematis, such as ‘Bill Mackenzie’ might overwhelm the Mahonia being more vigorous and having a longer flowering season. Fergus Garrett is passionate about his plants, and all that Great Dixter stands for and the talk was enjoyable,  informative and truly inspiring. Always approachable, Fergus welcomed and answered all questions with enthusiasm before we proceeded to lunch.

Galanthus “S.Arnott” in front of Arum italicum “Pictum”

All work is carried out on boards so as not to compact the soil or to disturb plants

After a jovial group meal in the lovingly preserved house, we were then shown around the garden by Fergus. As we walked he showed us areas where another layer of planting could be added, and described the borders in terms of a series of compartments that all have their own planting combinations.

Cyclmen providing winter interest under a tree and spreading all the way to the back of the border

He showed us areas where Cyclamen were not only planted in waves under shrubs and trees, but also going right to the back of borders, using their leaves to maximum decorative effect now even though their flowers would be obscured by other planting later on in the year.

The long border, full of structure , still with plenty of winter interest.Grasses soon to cut down to make way for spring bulbs to be seen.
The long border still providing plenty of interest in winter
Gorgeous Daphniphyllum macropodum adding colour and texture to the garden. The pink was really arresting.
Effective yet unobstrusive means by which plants are staked at Great Dixter

We spent a couple of hours exploring the borders and absorbing much information, then the day was finished off with a welcome cup of tea/coffee and time to wander around the nursery and to buy some plants.

Lucy and I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable day, going away with tons to think about and a heap of useful information inside our heads, in the notes we had taken throughout the day and in the form of a slide list in which all the plants Fergus had talked about were detailed.

Different course are held throughout the year and all the proceeds go to maintaining and developing the gardens in the experimental and joyous fashion of Christopher Lloyd and Fergus Garrett. Book now!!

Great Dixter, Northiam, Rye, E.Sussex TN31 6PH


tel 01797 252878

p.s. You can also read about my 4 days volunteering at Great Dixter earlier on this year (2011). A wonderful experience.

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Now that the rain has washed away all the snow, I was eager to see what is growing in the garden after such a cold spell. I ‘m delighted to discover snowdrops making their way through. This shouldn’t surprise me, as it’s the lengthening day rather than temperature that cause snowdrops to burst through snow and ice to reach the light. If you look closely you can see that the the tip of the leaf is sharp and hard to help them break through the soil and Snowdrops, along with other early flowering bulbs and plants, grow and flower at this time of year before there are any signs of leaves growing on surrounding trees to gain maximum light.

Another delight is Helleborous foetidus, here surrounded by ferns and Helleborus x hybridus-not yet in flower.

Also spotted the gorgeous and delicate pink flowers of Cyclamnen coum starting to peek through. And not forgetting the lovely speckled leaves which also provide invaluable interest at this time of year.

Arum italicum ‘Pictum’ is such an amazing foliage plant and still looking good despite being frozen, then covered in snow. In my garden it tends to pop up all over the place, so I carefully dig it out, which means digging deep as the bulbs of this plant travel 5-6 inches down into the soil, and pass onto family and friends. It’s grows really well in dry shade too, which is extremely advantageous for the parts my garden which are shaded by neighbours’ fences and competing with tree roots for moisture and nutrients.

Finally, I have to admit that although I planted most of my bulbs in good time, I forgot to plant my allium bulbs. However, I have just planted them almost as an experiment to see if they come up when planted so late. I did disturb the roots of a few other plants around them and carefully mulched these areas as we probably will still have very cold temperatures before it starts getting warmer again. If you still have tulip bulbs, planting them now should be OK. Plant them at least 5 inches (12.5cm) deep and deeper, up to 10 inches(25cm) if possible . Also, add some grit to the bottom of the hole to improve drainage as tulips hate to sit in wet soil. Not so sure about planting Daffodil bulbs so late, but it’s always worth a try if they still look healthy (not dried out or rotting).They may well just flower a little later this year. Do let me know how you get on if planting bulbs late this year.

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