A Lakeland Alpine Diary - Holehird Gardens
This entry: September 2012 by Alan Oatway
The new month has begun, but nevertheless, the following is all about September. And to begin with, a look at one of those star performers that is unfortunately all too ephemeral. I look forward to it every year, and have to make sure that the camera is always available because otherwise .... I am referring to the first dramatic autumn colour, provided on the approach to our car park by Cercidiphyllum japonicum. My photograph from 2010 was taken on 22nd September, whereas this year I was lucky on the 19th. I guess it is around its best for about a week. So now you know you've missed it this year, but here is picture to make up.
From this beginning, the colours in the garden continue to exemplify autumn for many weeks, with the wide range of Acers giving a particularly fine and varied show. Many are looking good right now, and many more will follow.
Acer palmatum Sango-kaku certainly provides a bright spot in the Walled Garden. In the Magnolia Border higher up in the Fell Garden, A. palmatum Osakazuki is also in fine form, and joined in a colourful combination by the second flush of flowers on Rhododendron Yellowhammer.
By the Gunnera Pool there is another fiery red and yellow combination, with Primula florindae continuing to flower well - it may be a bit vigorous in our climate, but it is easy enough to keep in check, especially if you can keep it a bit dryer!
I'd thought last month that this month would be dominated by some shots of the autumn gentians, of which there are some excellent plantings, especially at the front of the main Rock Garden. They are looking good - or would be if the sun deigned to shine for a while. For much of September, the many buds have remained steadfastly shut, for although they like our moisture, they do need the sun to open and display their true glory. So watch the forecast! If it looks like being sunny, and you are anywhere near, the photograph that follows gives you an idea of hwat might be on show.
The last "unseasonal" alpine to feature this month is almost Meconopsis punicea. I say almost, for this particular plant has a little of M. quintuplinervia bred into it, in the hope of producing a perennial form of the exquisite scarlet poppywort. I hasten to add that we haven't been doing the hybridising, but have merely grown on the seedlings that we were delighted to receive from Evelyn Stevens. I guess the reason they are flowering now is that this is their first full year, and some plants have just reached flowering size. Without the true species alongside for comparison, it is difficult to be objective, but the scarlet still looks very good to me - and as to whether the plants will be perennial, you, like me, will simply have to wait and see!
There will be an October edition before I hibernate for a few months. The winter months are when many of us plan our forays for the following year, so now seems a good time to say that if there are any alpinists out there who would like to visit us - and be shown around by members of our team, we'd be very happy to see you, and show you more of what we do. We could manage if you are a few or a larger group. There is space to park a coach - but it is wisest to book this!
If you are interested, you could either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our dedicated Groups Organiser at email@example.com