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Plants in the Garden: 'Old Orchard', Loose

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Started by: Tim Ingram

The garden made by Mike and Hazel Brett in Maidstone

Go to latest contribution by Ian Crompton, 09 June 2013, 09:28. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Tim Ingram 07 June 2012, 21:43top / bottom of page

Mike & Hazel have made what must be one of the most remarkable and extensive alpine gardens in the country. It is full of fascinating plants grown in profusion and very naturally. A get together of Kentish AGS members this summer gave us all the chance to see it again (and for my wife to spend a merry hour or two collecting lots of cuttings). Mike and Hazel have been central to the Kent AGS for very many years, running the Mid Kent Group and bringing a wonderful range of alpines to meetings and Plant Events. They grow too many different plants to pick any in particular - except for Erodiums, which have thrown up a number of fine hybrids (such as 'Orchard Gem', shown below, which is incredibly free flowering) and Irises, which are a great interest.

It is really nice just to show a few pictures of a thoroughly inspirational and fascinating garden, for those unable to visit.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 06 June 2013, 18:11top / bottom of page

A few more pictures this summer of Old Orchard. It must be very rare to find such extensive plantings of alpines and this bed is full of phlox and other good strong growing species, which are probably rarely given this sort of space to show themselves off properly. Coming just a little later are many dwarf bearded irises, and a small but select group of members of the British Iris Society live in Kent, some like Olga Wells, having been involved in breeding and trailing hybrids.

Mike has had a particular interest in erodiums which dates back to connections with Robinson's Alpine Nursery. They suit the garden well and seed quite freely, and as a genus are long and relatively free-flowering. As a foliage plant E. chrysanthemum takes some beating, and although normally yellow flowered, can be a soft-pink to salmon. The first picture shows a strong established clump in full flower; not a spectacular plant but still very attractive. The second is a seedling with notably fine silver foliage. This species is dioecious and Mike was only able to get this variation and self-seeding in the garden through the kind gift of material from Allan Robinson.

The main alpine planting is mature and naturalising with a great variety of plants, and for me this open low planting is extremely attractive - whereas the tendency, and this is true in our garden - is to have much more detailed plantings in smaller areas. There are individual 'stars' like the Dodecatheon.

Nearer to the house are raised beds with plants like the excellent dwarf shrub Berberis stenophylla 'Corallina Compacta' (there is also a superb and rare upright species of Hakea - a Proteaceous shrub from Australia). And around the house itself troughs and beds for more choice plants; daphnes, Zaluzianskya, many dianthus and saxifrages, eriogonums and other species. The final two pictures show first Anthemis cretica which interestingly always flowers on the parts of the plant overlying the stone (the same seems true of other alpines like Globularia repens, which often seems very shy-flowering), and a nice unnamed phlox.

Mike and Hazel have kindly given us the opportunity to collect cuttings from plants in the garden and we hope to propagate and distribute many of these, and maintain them in cultivation in the region. Their garden has long been an inspiration to anyone with a fascination in these plants, and has welcomed many well known names to speak to the Mid-Kent Group over the years, and it is good to acknowledge this properly on the AGS website.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 07 June 2013, 06:57top / bottom of page

(Note: it is Erodium chrysanthum of course - it would be very useful to have an editing facility as is available on other websites).

Contribution from Yann DUPONT 07 June 2013, 22:20top / bottom of page

Many thanks for sharing this marvelous garden's shots.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 08 June 2013, 08:20top / bottom of page

Thank you Yann. Foolish as it might seem it is always nice to know members are reading these notes! And I am sure there must be many other gardens in other parts of the country that would also be fascinating to hear about. (And probably even more interesting, from overseas members).

Contribution from Ian Crompton 09 June 2013, 09:28top / bottom of page

Fist of all I must say I enjoy reading all the contributions and looking at the pictures posted here.The last 3-4 weeks has been manic in the garden here as well as tending and planting out the boarders and tending the veggie plot,I have removed an old rockery which had become over grown and neglected. Yesterday was spent cutting railway sleepers and laying them out to get the shape of the alpine bed,I am going for a multi height bed which will create some of its own shade. Once I have it built i will post some pictures..

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