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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 03 May 2012, 21:00top / bottom of page

Well the yucca is proceeding apace and beginning to show signs of the floral structure to come - these two photos show it on 29/4 and now today! If I can master the skills of i-movie on our computer I aim to put the daily record together in a 'film'.

The two tulips are planted in the bed devoted mostly to bulbs - Tulipa whittallii (with its rather curious orange flowers backed greenish-yellow) and the very attractive aucheriana (which is featured in Jack Elliott's book on small bulbs but not always easy to find). So far the tulips have not made the feature on this bed that I had hoped and need to be planted in greater numbers and variety and softened by some of the smaller narcissi. The wonder of the bulb walk at Sissinghurst is still some way away!

Contribution from Tim Ingram 03 May 2012, 21:16top / bottom of page

This is a remarkable time in the garden because along with these plants many woodlanders are also making a fine show and it is hard not to feel spoilt by the variety. We have many of the latter growing under dwarf apples, planted in nursery rows over 30 years ago, and with their restricted root systems providing ideal shade and moisture even through our often dry summers. Ferns provide foliage contrast and these are mixed with epimediums, trilliums, anemones, erythroniums and a growing collection of choice woodlanders. Snowdrops and daffodills provide early flowers.

These four plants typify the planting - the erythronium is a wonderful hybrid with yellow and pink flushed flowers raised by Wol and Sie Staines at Glen Chantry, and with great vigour (helped by copious compost); Polygonatum x hybridum 'Betberg' has been a lot slower to get going but very striking for its dark leaves; ferns are all know expanding their spring fronds, a particularly beautiful time; and finally the finest woodland anemone we have, 'Allenii', with large soft lavender-blue flowers. In time we hope these will form more substantial groundcover between other plants.

Contribution from Susan Read 04 May 2012, 14:11top / bottom of page

Tim, Erythroniums are one of my favourites. Do you know the parentage of that hybrid? I was once impressed by both E. grandiflora and E. montanum growing in the Cascades, the latter in quantity in snow melt on Mt Rainier.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 14 May 2012, 08:53top / bottom of page

Hello Susan - no I'm not sure of the parentage of the erythronium but Maggi has made a suggestion on the SRGC Forum; they also grow many of these and have interesting hybrids. I think they tend to be slow in the garden because their growing season is so short but this one has certainly increased quite quickly.

A few other woodlanders flowering, the lovely Fritillaria pallidiflora (which has also established in the grass with a couple of other species) and affinis, a really sombre North American species, very variable but a good garden plant. The third plant, the creme de le creme in Kath Dryden's words, is the pink form of Trillium grandiflorum, growing under a row of cordon crab apples. This was a lucky buy from Mike Smith (Hythe Alpines) at Kent quite a few years ago, and I think derived from exchange with Edinburgh Botanics. i am not sure if a dare dig it up and divide again having seen several smaller plants in the garden 'go back' in the last year or two. A real heirloom plant.

Contribution from Ron Mudd 14 May 2012, 10:14top / bottom of page

Great to see more Frits growing in the garden Tim, ( lovely Trillium also). Very strong looking too. The sombre plant is Fritillaria affinis tristulis. Fritillaria affinis affinis is the variable one which can range from pure yellow, through pale green speckled with red to dark chocolate speckled. As you say they are all good garden plants.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 15 May 2012, 11:51top / bottom of page

Thanks Ron. It is interesting your comments about Frit. affinis because most American species (from what I have read) are not so easy. it is nice that affinis is so variable and also such a good doer. Slowly I am trying more species outside - in the past I often put them in spots that were much to dry (and rooty), imagining that they needed to dry out in the summer. You live and learn!

We have quite a number of daphnes around the garden - the best is probably retusa which has persisted over 30 years, self-seeding gently and providing lots of cutting material. It is such a neat and tidy small shrub that it should be in every garden. Smaller ones like x hendersonii 'Blackthorn Rose' need the spartan conditions of the sand bed and winter protection, but are then a real picture. The third is the rare D. glomerata, a feature of moist hillsides in Turkey and the Caucasus, and not regarded as easy in the garden. This is planted in quite heavy loam on the cool side of a greenhouse and this is its first flowering. So far it has grown happily (with some winter protection) and I hope it will go from strength to strength. Our garden is well suited to daphnes, having a good well drained fertile loam, but modest rainfall and warm summers.

Contribution from Ron Mudd 15 May 2012, 13:46top / bottom of page

The 'Chinese' species (still a little tricky to get hold of) are also good doers in the same sort of settings Tim, as of course are many of the Europeans. Of course there are a number that do need to be dry for a great part of the year.

I really enjoy reading this thread. Seems to have a very natural 'gardening' feel. Hope you can keep it going Tim.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 17 May 2012, 08:53top / bottom of page

Thank you for your kind comments Ron, they are much appreciated. Gardening has always been important to me and it very nice to watch and comment on the garden as it develops through the spring. It would certainly be nice to try some of the Chinese Frits. I will watch out for seed.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 17 June 2013, 22:18top / bottom of page
Summer 2013 in the garden

The threads on these Discussion pages can often lack any continuity and I haven't added to this one for a while - concentrating more on the alpines on the Sand Bed. We have always grown a very wide variety of plants and from early on were inspired by Beth Chatto and her dryland plantings. These bear close similarities to many alpines in that our uncertain wet winters are often problematical and excellent drainage is key. And there is quite a bit of overlap in the way they are planted in the garden. These are a few examples this June...

Fisrt of all probably the loveliest of all hebes, H. hulkeana. This is none to easy to keep in the garden, or to propagate (though we have grown it well from seed in the past). The flowerheads are reminiscent of a small lilac and very different from the typical species. It is growing here in a pretty dry south-facing sheltered border.

Summer 2013 in the garden

I've shown Lithodora x intermedia elsewhere in close up, but this picture shows what a substantial plant it can make, in full flower at the moment. Although the best known Lithodora must be diffusa, and this prefers cooler and acidic soils (though forms like 'Picos' will grow well in more 'average' conditions), almost all other species of Lithodora like sunny and dry situations in neutral or limy soil. Many gardeners may be put off them unnecessarily. And small blue sub-shrubs like this are rare.

The most exquisite of Mediterranean annuals and quite difficult to lose once you have it growing in the garden, so long as it has an open gravelly place to self-sow. This is Omphalodes linifolia, which originally came from the AGS seed exchange (and the seed itself is quite large and interesting - not like the 'nutlets' of many boraginaceous plants). It will grow well in a very shallow trough, and I have seen it used like this with annual poppies at Great Dixter.

There are some incredibly beautiful species of convolvulus, including a number of alpines like C. boissieri. However, C. cneorum, although relatively tender in most gardens, beats them all for being much more easily propagated and widely available. The mild winter, albeit long and cool, suited this plant well and it is hard to imagine a more perfect combination than those silver leaves and pure-white flowers, uncoiling from pointed buds. The plant in the foreground is a vivid red form of Dianthus deltoides.

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