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Plants in the Garden: Plants at Copton Ash in Kent

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Started by: Tim Ingram

A look at various plants in our garden this spring

Go to latest contribution by Tim Ingram, 17 June 2013, 22:18. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Tim Ingram 29 March 2012, 09:18top / bottom of page

Still no luck with two of the photos (?). The last is Forsythia viridissima 'Broxensis', a nice dwarf variety, good on the raised bed.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 01 April 2012, 09:53top / bottom of page

Spring is really a tremendous time in an established garden and ours is now over 30 years old, but has recently had quite a lot of renovation and new planting, especially of alpines. Thalictrum orientale is a difficult plant to photograph but the prettiest species on the raised bed that I referred to earlier, spreading loosely and unusually for the genus, well adapted to dry well drained soil. On the sand bed Degenia velebitica has maintained itself by self-sowing, here in combination with Raoulia australis. There are many woodland plants looking particularly good just now as they begin to flower and expand their foliage - most of all I enjoy the combinations of these plants, even often when they have no flowers at all!

Contribution from Tim Ingram 01 April 2012, 10:09top / bottom of page

How do you decide when to open a garden? Unlike a single plant on show it doesn't have that perfect moment, but when it contains so many fascinating plants it always holds interest to any visitor with an eye for the detail as well as the wider view. But this time in spring is very hard to beat, as the trees and shrubs unfurl their leaves and so much is going on down below. Like all gardeners when we open for our Safari later in April, I shall say, 'Well you missed it at its best - just a week or two ago or a week or two later', or 'Sadly the magnolias have caught the frost again this year, otherwise the garden would have looked a picture', or 'The pulsatilla was perfect on the 28th March!'. All true in different seasons, but there is always something else to take their place, whether the latest rarity flowering, a potful of seedlings showing promise, or what I found today, a whole mass of young plants of Trillium rivale which have germinated under the parent plant in the garden! The magic of spring.

Contribution from Jon Evans 03 April 2012, 09:08top / bottom of page

Tim, what fabulous combinations of colour and pattern you have produced! And that bergenia (? - third photo) is wonderful at this stage; a great photo. Thanks for keeping us in touch with what is happening in your garden.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 03 April 2012, 17:58top / bottom of page

Thank you Jon! One of the reasons I enjoy gardening so much is the combinations of plants that arise, often serendipitously, and especially with woodland plants. I suppose you could almost call it 'ecological' gardening in the sense that this is how plants often relate in natural environments, and it's very pleasing when it comes off, but not necessarily easy to achieve! (My inspiration in particular was a visit to Knightshayes Court very many years ago, which I thought was very beautifully planted).

In slightly different vein we have a bulb bed in the middle of the lawn that has been stimulated by the amazing bulb walk at Sissinghurst; more contrived than a woodland planting, but sharing something of the same aim, that is combining plants of similar ilk together. In this case though the plants are more 'individual', as shown with those below:-

Fritillaria kotschyana, Muscari pseudomuscari, Scilla melaina and Fritillaria elwesii.

The real stars of the bulb walk at Sissinghurst are the tulips, which are softened by various narcissi, and I have still to incorporate more of both of these into our planting - but the great thing is how very many bulbs can be grown in a relatively small area, and we do have later flowering perennials like sedums which take over the bed in the summer and autumn.

Contribution from Ron Mudd 03 April 2012, 19:18top / bottom of page

How long have the Frits been planted Tim?

Contribution from Tim Ingram 03 April 2012, 20:15top / bottom of page

Hello Ron - the kotschyana was originally from Kath Dryden and has been in the bed for quite a long time, probably six or seven years. At one point it seemed to disappear, but now there are two plants close together so possibly something damaged the bulb underground. it doesn't increase at all but is still great to see. The elwesii is actually a potful that Jim Archibald gave me a couple of years ago, so in that sense is a bit of a cheat - it hasn't really developed in the garden as such. But I think it is meant to be a good garden frit. I am trying quite few others from seed but they are all very small as yet and will probably take quite a few years to reach flowering size (so: eduardii, raddeana). I would like to grow more and Kevin Pratt in his book on frits. mentions growing quite a few outside, which is encouraging. Forms of the American affinis all do very well, and I would certainly recommend these to other gardeners.

Contribution from Ron Mudd 04 April 2012, 18:20top / bottom of page

Very interesting. Thank you Tim. I agree F.affinis does well outside, and will seed around in the right conditions.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 09 April 2012, 11:51top / bottom of page

The undoubted star of the garden at the moment is Adonis vernalis - these glorious flowers opening over ferny foliage are getting better year by year as the clumps increase, but they are very slow from seed. My plants were grown from seed from Jelitto some seven or eight years ago but have rarely set good seed in the garden here.

Many plants are beginning to grow away on the railway sleeper raised bed including Campanula zoysii which is planted in a raised area of virtually pure chippings. Here, touch wood, it is not troubled by slugs and snails! (There is a wonderful quote from Clarence Elliott about this in Graham Nicholl's book on Dwarf Camanulas). A good time to think about taking cuttings, as with many other campanulas.

The delightful little muscari (I forget its name?) came from Rannveig Wallis (Buried Treasure) and has steadily made a little colony in gritty soil - it must be unique for the reddish colouration in the older flowers.

Contribution from Margaret Young 09 April 2012, 11:58top / bottom of page

Great pink muscari, Tim.

Muscari armeniacum Gul, or Gul Delight, perhaps?

Contribution from Tim Ingram 09 April 2012, 22:22top / bottom of page

Thanks Maggi - yes that sounds right. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of the common muscari planted in this part of the garden from many years ago, which seeds itself much too freely and probably stops many gardeners ever realising some of the charms of the genus - and this is definitely one.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 28 April 2012, 10:52top / bottom of page
Yucca whipplei

Some plants are truly astonishing and Yucca whipplei is certainly one of these. In his classic book 'Perennial Garden Plants' Graham Stuart Thomas described it as 'One of the most wonderful plants in the world', praise indeed. The reason is its hugely dramatic candelabra of flowers, far more impressive than any other species of yucca.

We have a couple of plants in are garden grown from seed some seven or eight years ago and I had no expectation of flowers for many more years. However, one plant has started to produce a flowering spike (!) and so I am taking photographs every day to chart its progress. These four then show the plant from 22/4 to 25/4, and the likelyhood is that this rate of growth will accelerate as the flowering spike develops. Bets being taken on its eventual height! (Does anyone else grow this?).

The plants are growing in sand bed conditions over the normal well drained garden soil, and the specimen pictured has not been protected through our last two relatively severe winters with temperatures dropping well below -10C.

Yucca whipplei

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