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A Lakeland Alpine Diary - Holehird Gardens

This entry: April 2014 by Alan Oatway

Well, I've finally dragged myself indoors, in order to write this entry. It has been a wonderful spring so far, and what better way to start than by looking at my favourite spring bulbs. Let's allow a picture to do the talking!

This group of Erythronium have really looked good this season - they still do! I love the way they appear so delicate but are in fact quite robust, and the combination of colour and structure really appeals to me. I think both yellow and white in the picture (taken along our "Woodland Walk") are probably hybrids, but I believe the pink one (on the Rock Garden) that follows is Erythronium revolutom.

The season has been incredibly early this year - as with everyone I guess - but it also seems to be a feature that the colour throughout the garden is particularly fine. There is a rhododendron border opposite the Rock Garden, and that is in very fine form indeed.

Holehird's volunteers keep going through the winter. The team that look after the cascade (maybe "team" is over-stating it a bit!) have been cleaning out a large section of bed to remove perennial weeds, so Primula "Red Hugh" has been away for his holidays, but he was restored to newly dug and refreshed soil last week. Nearby, alongside one of the pools, Primula rosea has been shining out towards the Langdales.

Another team have been very busy on the Rock Garden itself - in what must be regarded as "Work-in-progress"! Large, over-mature conifers and rhododendrons have been removeed or restrained, allowing the different sections to be re-united into what we hope is a more harmonious whole. Certainly, the structure is now appearing more like the tiered amphitheatre that we felt its original design was, and now that the mild winter has allowed much of the heavy work to be done, the challenge moves on to achieve the right planting to make the most of the efforts put in.

Initially, there will be a need to fill some ground, which should be enjoyable. Pulsatilla vulgaris, in its red form, is not unusual, but is of the right size to use in a group of three to create some impact on this large stage. Here is one of the new plants settling in to its home.

And to finish this edition, a new addition that does rank as unusual - but unfortunately comes from that monocarpic race that means it is merely filling space. But what a way to do it! Meconopsis integrifolia is not commonly seen, and I would admit to finding it more difficult to germinate that others of its genus. But it is well worth seeking out, and we would like to grow it regularly to celebrate Holehird's asscoaition with Farrer and Purdom. It may be rather small to be a "lampshade", but it certainly packs a punch in visual terms on the Rock Garden. 

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