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Plants in the Garden: Rosemary Powis's Garden

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Started by: Tim Ingram

A look at Rosemary's garden this spring

Go to latest contribution by Tim Ingram, 26 July 2011, 20:16. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Tim Ingram 08 June 2011, 18:49top / bottom of page

Rosemary made a lovely small garden around her house in Old Wive's Lees, full of choice plants and very artistically planted. Like many of us she opened it to local AGS members, notably for snowdrops early in the year, and was sad not to be able to open for the Garden Safari we held this May. Paul, her husband, and her children Julian and Jo, have asked if we could help in maintaining the garden with the prospect of opening for the Safari next year. This would be especially nice as it is a small garden, like many others, and could inspire gardeners as to what can be done with skill and imagination. So here are some images taken this spring for anyone looking on the website to enjoy, with a few comments about Rosemary's favourite plants.

Rosemary had a special love of ferns and belonged to the BPS and raised many species from spores. She also held several practical sessions for the AGS and HPS describing the propagation of ferns. This is one of several forms of Polystichium setiferum (the Soft Shield fern) in the garden, an excellent species to grow in the dry south-east and virtually evergreen.

A small alpine trough by the front door - to the right a shady area with many woodland plants such as Jeffersonia dubia

Most of the alpines grow in the front garden sloping up to the house in a colourful and long lasting display. This is quite unique in the neighborhood and created a lot of interest for others living nearby (but unfortunately no new members for our group!). Around the corner are some especially fine clumps of Pulsatilla vulgaris; earlier in the year a good display of Crocus tommasinianus and other bulbs

Several good dianthus.

A clever and simple bit of planting between the two drives. Some choice plants grow here including Galanthus 'Primrose Warburg' and other bulbs.

The combination of Potentilla rupestris (a British native) and Tulipa sprengeri is particularly good in my opinion, bringing both plants out to their best.

This central bed in the rear garden is full of exciting plants, notably the nearly black-flowering Pulsatilla pratensis 'Nigricans' in a very good form I have only seen elsewhere in Mike and Dot Smith's garden in Norfolk.

A general view of the rear garden with perennials and a small specimen of Cornus kousa which sits to the right in the middle of the garden.

A very attractive corner, much in shade, with Astrantia major 'Ruby Wedding', ferns by the seat, and in the pot to the right a superb plant of Jeffersonia diphylla from which I have just collected seed.

I am sure Rosemary would have been very proud to have shared her garden more with AGS members, but probably like many never felt that it was good enough. I think the pictures dispel this convincingly and even more I think Rosemary's garden is very much what the AGS is all about - it is about putting plants together in the garden as much as growing plants for display. Added to this it is about bringing keen gardeners together in the groups and Rosemary was instrumental in this, running our East Kent Group for some 17 years. I am sure there are very many such inspiring gardens around the country and they are a resource we should use in attracting new members to join the Society.

Contribution from David Nicholson 08 June 2011, 19:54top / bottom of page

A beautiful garden Tim, many thanks for showing it.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 26 July 2011, 20:16top / bottom of page

Some examples of summer colour in Rosemary's garden. A couple of strong clumps of that remarkably hardy Crassula sarcocaulis and Origanum calcaratum(?), one of a marvellous group of summer flowering alpines.

On the sunny side of the house the rock garden is steep sloping and the plants have been very well chosen for the situation. Most flambouyant (literally!) is Zauschneria cana, quite amazing for its colour in the summer, and very free flowering here. At the far end of the border is strong plant of Salvia microphylla, a very valuable long flowering small shrub for the hottest of spots, and combining well with Eryngium bourgatii and Alliums. The final picture shows a view along the border to illustrate how effective is the overall planting.

Finally that narrow border between the two drives shown earlier. Now it is still colourful with Alliums doing their thing; infinitely more stimulating than what one often sees in this situation!

Rosemary's garden is one of the gardens we intend to open next spring, this time in collaboration with the National Gardens Scheme, in order to introduce keen gardeners in Kent to alpine plants, and more generally to the idea of 'Plantsmanship' and a more sophisticated vision of what gardens can be and where they can go.

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