A Lakeland Alpine Diary - Holehird Gardens
This entry: March 2012 by Alan Oatway
Welcome to this first entry in a “Lakeland Alpine Diary”, coming to you from Holehird Gardens, the home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society. I could not help myself but begin by giving you a smell of Daphne bholua “Jacqueline Postill” growing by an entrance gate. She has been in full flower since early January and is still going strong – although it has to be admitted that she rested awhile during that cold snap in February, wise move! But this is supposed to be an “alpine” diary, so I will try to resist too many of digressions away from that theme!
I am going to use this first entry to give you a brief tour of some of the major alpine features at Holehird. If you want to know more about the society, you could visit our website at www.holehirdgardens.org.uk, and if you would like a more general overview of the gardens, you could do no better than to stay on the AGS website and peruse the Northumberland diary entry number 165 (4 November 2010).
It may be of interest, while viewing our efforts, to understand the nature of our growing conditions. We have great growing weather! The average annual rainfall is six feet (sorry to those of you with hosepipe bans!), light levels are often low, and on last week’s hottest-day-of-the-year-so-far, we only fell short by 10ºC! Not quite the best prognosis for many alpines, but some enjoy it.
It is early in the year here, so I’ll begin this brief tour indoors. We have a display house and a victorian pit house lined with tufa. In the former, the mainstays of the display at the moment are dionysias and pleiones, and there follow a couple of pictures to illustrate.
That was Dionysia aretioides "Bevere", and the next is Pleione "Tongariro".
The Tufa House has many mature plants, and the saxifrages are beginning to show their best. Buds are opening fast, and last year’s optimum display in the next two photographs shows what we have to look forward to soon. The pictures show S. wendelboi followed by S. x poluanglica "Tvuj Uspech"
The LHS has gardened the fell-side rock garden since 1971, at which point a lot of bramble had to be cleared. The site is fairly open to the south-west, and large quantities of Shap granite grit have been incorporated to provide sharp drainage. We have been experimenting with Asiatic primulas, placing small pieces outside for the winter, where we do not like to use any physical protection. P. “Tantallon” has been planted in the lee of a large Ulmus x hollandica “Jacqueline Hillier”, and it seems to have liked the winter. It’s flowers are beginning to open, and and the plant is bulking up pretty well.
Bedrock outcrops lower down the garden, along the “Lower Terrace”. On one outcrop, Saxifraga oppositifolia is showing well, whilst another rock is being used to shelter Primula gracilipes from the wind-blown rain – to good effect.
Lastly in this first entry, I feel a little poetry coming on. Wordsworth (poetry over!) on his wanderings came across hosts of Narcissus pseudonarcissus: we host quite a few too, which are opening up now. In the next week or so, they will reach their peak, as shown in the final photograph.