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A Lakeland Alpine Diary - Holehird Gardens

This entry: May 2012 by Alan Oatway

May is in danger of running away with me before I get this entry written, so I've dragged myself away from the watering - yes, even in Cumbria! My other excuse is that I've been away in Turkey with our friends from SRGC, and just to confirm my alibi, I thought I'd let you see a couple of Iris - caucasica and sari. I hope you'll like them as much as I do - well worth the journey to see!

At Holehird, M doesn;t just stand for May, it stands for Meconopsis. Despite the stop-start spring, they are looking very good right now, and will be for a week or two yet. We have been running a demonstration bed, as part of the RHS trial taking place at Harlow Carr. 23 varieties of the "big blue" poppies are on display, with just a couple of these being white, and one or two others showing some purple. Firstly then, a picture of part of the demonstration bed.

Which deserve AGM status is going to take some deciding! Most of the varieties are growing well, and I will be extravagant and show three in close up, Louise, Mrs Jebb, and Lingholm. Of these, Mrs Jebb has the habit of facing her flowers forward, so they are much easier to view and they would make a good show when they can be found a suitable spot in a traditional border. Lingholm is a fertile cultivar that has been grown at Holehird for many years, and is the strain we usually have for sale on our plant stall. We know it is reliably perennial, and can vouch for its longevity in our favourable conditions.

We also grow other members of the genus, and are always looking to widen our range. There are plantings of species including quintuplinervia, baileyi and grandis,  and some hybrids such as M. x cookei "Old Rose" - another reliable perennial that often starts to flower in April and repeat flowers sporadically all summer (pictured below). Monocarpics are represented too, but it is unwise to list what we have, as it is always changing! The list does usually include M. napaulensis (of hort), and currently what we hope to be true M. paniculata and M.wallichii. The hybrid M. x beamishii is currently in flower, but it is not showing signs to suggest it is going to be a perennial form (second photo below).

To finish this edition, I will mention the moisture-loving primulae. Some of the areas where these feature have been re-worked over the winter, and that may explain why flowering is possibly a little later than usual. However, lots of buds are evident, and displays should be pretty good throughout June. P. chungensis is fully open as shown below, and you may note the Cardiocrinumgiganteum leaves behind: there will be some spectacular flower spikes later in the summer.

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