AGS Events: Kent Garden Safari 2012
Started by: Tim IngramGo to latest contribution by Margaret Young, 23 April 2012, 16:42. Go to bottom of this page.
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Our Kent Garden Safari next spring will be on Sunday 22nd April with five gardens open in the north Kent region. These include several that have been described earlier on the website, and vary from small town gardens to much more extensive and mature gardens with a wide range of plants. More details and posters will be available at the Spring AGS Show at Rainham on 17th March, or by contacting myself.
We have also now put further details of this event, a short article and some photographs on the East Kent Group website (see link from the AGS site). We are too far for most AGS members to visit but you may be interested to hear how the day goes and we will post details here at the end of April. More photos and information will be available at the Spring Kent AGS Show on 17th March.
I thought I might put the article I mentioned on the East Kent Group website here as well as an example of how we are trying to promote our way of gardening. This was written for any local magazines that might print it-but as anyone who has written such articles knows (especially when specialised like this) they are rarely taken up. So I place it here for the amusement of the relatively few, but perhaps interested viewers of this forum.
Spring Garden Safari - Sunday April 22nd 2012
Where does your garden take you? To the far reaches of China, home to so many of our trees and shrubs? To Californian hillsides decked in ceanothus and native poppies? Or to the lush vegetation of the sub-tropics - palms, bananas, begonias, dahlias - that bring so much colour and drama late in the year? Gardens have the capacity to set the imagination free and take us all around the world! They can evoke the places we have been, or would like to go, as much as they simply colour the view outside our window. For the keen gardener they are a playground as well as a canvas.
For a particular group of gardeners in Kent this is more true than most. Our especial fascination is in learning about plants in their natural environments and bringing this to bear on growing them in our gardens. The plants that symbolise this most are the jewel-like species of high mountain meadows and rocky screes; alpines, rock plants, mountain flowers, call them what you will. They vary as much as the geography of their home and cast a spell which is impossible to overlook. Once you have grown the vivid blue spring gentian, G. verna, it is like falling in love, for the magic of the mountains is captured in your garden and the open skies and drama of its natural environment is somehow carried with it too!
This is a different sort of gardening! Compared to the herbaceous border which we look at as a symphony of colour, alpine plants and small perennials are more individual. The alpine garden is the work of Fabergé rather than Monet. But it is ideally suited to today?s small gardens because so many plants can be grown in a restricted area and bring so much enjoyment. Alpines can be supplemented with bulbs and, in shady places, with small woodland perennials which have much of the same individual charm.
At Chestfield, on the outskirts of Whitstable, is an extraordinarily fascinating and artistically planted garden in which alpines play a part, but with many other plants too. Home to an environmental scientist and his French wife, who is involved in adult education, it epitomises all that is so exciting about a garden, in the smallest of spaces. Not a position is wasted; plants are played off each other beautifully; humorous touches abound. Here is a garden at its very best. The alpine flowers are grown in raised beds alongside the house, with others in a greenhouse around the side. Some grow well, some less well, but this is part of the fun and stimulus that comes from these plants. The great surprise is how well many can adapt to our lowland gardens, and there is a great incentive to learn how they may be grown best. Other parts of the garden have a marvellous mix of perennials and small shrubs, and its location near the sea on the north Kent coast means that the climate is quite mild and some remarkably tender plants can be grown. It shows how a garden can transport you from the everyday to a place of great excitement. Our garden in Faversham is much larger but a small area devoted to alpines has been a joy for several years. Only some 15 sq. m. in size this bed contains over 200 different plants which flower from late winter right through to early autumn. Even out of flower their foliage varies attractively in colour and form. The simple trick has been to excavate the garden soil and infill with sharp gritty sand. These are plants that grow naturally in impoverished stony screes and resent the richer fare of the garden. They are proof that even these special plants of the mountains can be long lived and successful in the garden with just a little care.
These gardens are just two of five that the Alpine Garden Society in Kent is opening on Sunday 22nd April 2012, centred around Faversham but running out to Old Wives Lees and Whitstable. They vary greatly, as all gardens do, but turn on the same passion of learning about the plants we grow, whether they come from China, California or Chile. We hope to convince gardeners that these exquisite plants of the mountains, in all their varied form, are worth the same attention as any others. That they are not nearly so difficult to grow as many suppose and the rewards inestimable. Most of all they are just too beautiful to be overlooked!
Just a reminder for anyone in Kent about our Garden Safari next Sunday. The gardens are looking good, the weather we hope will hold fair, and we will be pleased if we get a few more visitors than last year - and most of all any new members for the Group and AGS. To whet the appetite a few pictures taken in our garden with Othonna cheirifolia at the top of the drive and the sand bed beginning to flower more strongly.
It is always difficult to tell how an event like this is going to do. As it turned out the day dawned sunny and bright, and finished with thunderstorms (but by then fortunately everyone had bought their tickets!). We had four member's gardens open and 50 or 60 visitors - many AGS members but also an equal number who were not. With additional funds from selling teas and plants our costs were well covered, and in fact each time we have held this day we have made a significant profit, plus slowly attracting new members to the Group, and probably also increasing the profile of the AGS in Kent generally. What it also does is to bring together some of the more significant plantspeople in the county, even if not AGS members, and for me who believes our gardens have a central role in the Society, this seems quite important. A benefit, if I can reiterate it again, is that it shows the diversity of interests (garden wise) that is found amongst AGS members, and even if this is not a feature of the general perception of the Society from the outside (and probably for many within to), it is most certainly one amongst many of us who are members, and must have always been so. There is a great complementarity with the AGS Shows in Kent which display plants so beautifully and attract such fine nurserypeople, and potentially could show many more people how to garden with alpine plants.