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AGS Local Groups: A Day Out in Essex

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Started by: Tim Ingram

Go to latest contribution by Tim Ingram, 12 May 2013, 14:34. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Tim Ingram 29 April 2013, 08:58top / bottom of page

Cypripedium formosanum recalls plants that Kath Dryden grew so well, and that many more gardeners seem to be growing well these days too (my only attempt in the garden, a form of the American C. calceolus given to me by a great gardener in our Group, Vic Sales, fizzled out after a few years but fired the imagination). Lewisia tweedyi from Mike Sullivan really makes a stunning plant. Iris bucharica and Primula petelotii (which I have not seen before) were both from Ray, and Mike and I later saw the Iris planted out on the gravel garden at Hyde Hall, which encourages me to try it outside again, having lost it.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 29 April 2013, 09:20top / bottom of page

Hepatica 'Millstream Merlin' (again from Ray) is not mentioned in Lincoln and Laura Louise's book on their garden, 'Cuttings from a Rock Garden', but it would be interesting to know more about it as it is a stunning plant of such rich colour. The Kath Dryden award for the best plant in the Open Section went to Clematis tenuiloba, shown by Margaret Brink. This clematis grows in quite inhospitable places in the Great Plains and Rockies and Claude Barr in his wonderful book 'Jewels of the Plains', calls it 'the prize rock garden clematis of the West'. I have tried it on a sand bed but find that it runs around gently underground and never forms nice strong clumps like that in a pot. Lathyrus vernus 'Alboroseus' (I am sorry, I didn't record whose plant this was) is an excellent and valued garden plant, but also superb in a pot as this shows. I have never grown Pinguicula grandiflora but it is extremely appealing (this plant was from Robin Alabaster). A final display was of pleiones, like the Pinguicula quite a specialist group and very moreish - I certainly wouldn't mind trying a few that are reckoned to be hardy enough to grow in the garden.

A great Show and very enjoyable to visit, and actually rather easier to take in than the much larger National Shows. Thank you to all involved. Not far away is Hyde Hall, somewhere I had never visited, though I had heard a lot about the Gravel Garden, inspired by Beth Chatto (and another famous name of the past, Mrs Desmond Underwood and Rampart's Nursery). So this was our next port of call.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 12 May 2013, 14:34top / bottom of page
Hyde Hall

These few pictures have been awaiting return from the Czech Rock Garden Conference. Hyde Hall is a garden I have never visited but heard a lot about, particularly with respect to the Gravel Garden, so suited to the sunny dry climate of Essex. Whilst this was most impressive in its overall layout and plants, it did give the look of being a little neglected, as though other parts of the garden had taken precedence - and other parts were very well cared for. This was disappointing to me in that I had expected the gravel garden to be a major and ongoing feature of the garden. None-the-less there were many fascinating plants to see.

On the way up through the Southern hemisphere garden were male and female plants of the 'Pepper Bush', Drimys lanceolata. The difference between them in flower is striking, and the male by far more ornamental. Bergenias have always been (surprising to me) a feature of beth Chatto's dry garden, and there are some good clumps at Hyde Hall too; pink 'Eroica' and white 'Silberlicht'. Iris bucharica, as mentioned earlier, had been planted out in the gravel garden in some numbers (and I can't help adding here that in one of the Czech gardens we visited a great variety of very choice irises were planted in deep gravel and sand, along with many other bulbs). No gravel garden can be without Euphorbias, in particular E. characias in its form wulfenii, though they can potentially become a serious weed problem. Two nice plants for the alpine garden were Rhodiola heterodonta and Potentilla neumanniana 'Goldrausch', though the coarse pea gravel in the pictures would be better replaced with stone chippings in a private garden.

Hyde Hall

The most common of plants are brought to life when given the right setting and in just a small area alongside the gravel garden various alpines like alyssum and aubrieta were planted in a stone wall; simple but most effective.

But how was it possible to resist these colourful tulip displays? All those who missed the plants I have mentioned earlier would have been drawn to these as surely as any pollinator (the varieties used are shown in the second photo). Sometimes though it does rain in Essex and the final scene shows part of the woodland garden in a downpour. Much of this part of the garden was modelled around the original and established plantings, and had a more relaxed feeling that comes with maturity, in the same way that you find at Rosemoor in the West Country.

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