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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 25 March 2014 by Tim Ingram

... continued (fringe benefits)

Last weekend has actually been quite a horticultural feast in Kent because the day after the Kent AGS Show, the Kent HPS held their indoor Plant Sale and talk at Lenham, just off the A20 between Charing and Harrietsham. This was a great day too with a lot of overlap in attendance and a great talk from Derry Watkins (Special Plants), whose garden and nursery near Bath is a true expression of her passion and professionalism growing plants, complemented by the most wonderful of settings. Some 150 plus visitors came to Rainham and about the same to Lenham too, a sign that small scale plant events and specialist sales are growing again, and a greater awareness building amongst keen gardeners.

This is probably the most spectacular salvia I have even seen, grown by William Dyson from Great Comp, and a hybrid between two species neither of which I have heard of...

Several Kentish growers were selling plants including Colin Moat (Pineview Plants) who amongst much else organises 'Plant Roadshows' in Kent, and Fiona Wemyss (Blueleaf Plants), whose artistic displays of succulent plants are very eyecatching. There was a little debate at our last committee meeting in Kent whether or not members would enjoy a talk on these plants, but there is quite an overlap between them and alpines and many are hardy and have a thriving following in the less purist circles of 'alpine' gardeners in N. America. I've just added a super plant of the white Lewisia tweedyi from the Kent AGS Show to convince some of the doubters.

Just to finish a few pictures from our garden at the moment - the first picture shows one of the finest of all alpine daisies (I'm calling it Rhodanthemum hosmariense for the present but it has been changing its name almost as fast as each edition of the Plantfinder is published). In the foreground is the dwarf Yucca harrimaniae, behind it Narcissus panizzinianus and a legacy of an earlier and less sophisticated planting, the blue muscari, quite nice now but just too much of a good thing.

On the other and cooler side of this bed the primrose is flowering like never before, benefitting from such a mild and wet winter and self-sowing prodigously - it is all over banks in fields and alongside roads in Kent too. This even sows into the sand bed and I am now strongly drawn to some of the related species and forms described by John in his last diary entry.

On the sand bed itself the star plant now is Callianthemum anemonoides in a really lovely form from Blackthorn. There is something hugely exciting about growing a plant like this in the garden and it really isn't difficult once you find the right conditions like this.

Finally a puzzle which perhaps someone can help me with. The plant in the pot here is Ranunculus illyricus, bought from Keith Wiley (Wildside) at Rainham on Saturday. The plant all around it is what I have always grown as R. illyricus in the garden - both are summer dormant buttercups with wiry stemmed quite striking large flowers, and the latter self-sows freely as you can see. Can anyone give it a name.

Correction N. panizzianus. Sometimes the Plantfinder in my head slips up! Nice plant under any name...

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