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A Lakeland Alpine Diary - Holehird Gardens

This entry: April 2012 by Alan Oatway

This month's diary begins in the Walled Garden, an area that didn't feature last month. Mostly the domain of colour-themed herbaceous borders, there is room for some alpines too. One area requires a retaining wall, and at the top the border edging the lawn is effectively a narrow raised bed. Beneath this, there is a fine collection of stone troughs. Our current crop of alpine volunteers knew that these hadn't been re-vitalised for a long time, and so this spring is seeing each one emtied in turn. Imagine the surprise at finding no holes in the bottom of some - so much for sharp drainage!

The photographs following show the general layout, one of the troughs, and Andromeda polifolia "Compacta" - in fine flower right now.

So what's been happening on the rock garden? Like everyone else, we had a very warm spell that hurried some things along, but since then it has been cool, and plants have stayed in good condition for several weeks. Primulae must feature again - I guess they will most months! in the scree if front of the display house, the fine red P. x pubescens "Rufus" is looking good: it's a relatively young plant considering how long this cultivar has been around. On the rock garden, benefitting from the overflow from the stream and pool, is a group of P. frondosa. We have been enjoying this for several weeks.

Elsewhere in the open garden, there have been some fine displays of bulbs, and the tulips below are also in front of the display house. High up on the rock garden, there the outstanding plant of the last few weeks has been the Trillium sessile.

The recent extended cool period means there is still much to come outdoors, but those who maintain our indoor collections have kept us interested and educated by their displays. In the main house, I have enjoyed being able to study, in comfort, the various Androsaces that have been on display. Clockwise from top left are AA. villosa "Arachnoidea", albana, muscoidea Schacht's Form, and vandellii. 

Sorry, I got the last two in the wrong order!

The tufa house has has been lovely too, and for me the star plant has been been another primula! So I now give you a look at Primula x loiseleurii "Aire Mist". This is often seen in pots at shows, but it's really good to see it doing well in a semi-natural planting.

So where to finish the April edition? I've chosen to go back outdoors and leave you with a look at another young plant. I normally prefer plants to be in their expected colour: pink bluebells do little for me! But this yellow member of Gentianaceae - Sebea thomasii - is set to become a firm favourite of mine. I hope you enjoy it too.  

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