Alpine Garden Society

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Meeting October 18 2013

Peter Bland: "Where shall I plant this?"
The October meeting of the North Lancashire Group was held recently when one of our own members, Peter Bland from Inglewhite presented his illustrated lecture entitled ‘Where shall I plant this? ’ Peter explained the history of his 2 acre garden which he has transformed over 36 years.

He started in 1977 with a collection of 120 Rhododendrons, Paper Bark Maples and Red Oaks. With clay soil predominant in the garden a way had to be devised for growing Rhododendrons. This, Peter solved by using leaf mould and composted bark. He explained about the difficulties of getting some species to flower with the hybrids generally blooming quickly. Peter next added Camellias and Magnolias.

The next major project was to make an alpine rock garden on a 10ft x 16ft plot but due to the clay soil the bed failed. However, this was solved by building raised beds some 18” high and using a clay base, John Innes and a 4” grit dressing. This was a huge success growing many varieties of Saxifrages, Dwarf Aquilegias, Calceolarias and Campanulas. Peter offered the advice that when growing difficult alpine plants a trough is superior to a raised bed and this was proved with the Dwarf Alpenrose (Rhodothamnus chamaecistus) a small shrub found on the limestone screes of the Dolomites. It is necessary to cover the trough from late November to March to shelter the plant from the wet British winter. In the mountains it would normally be snow covered and this acts as a protection for the plant. Meconopsis delavaii was another example of a plant grown better in a trough.

As the garden developed Peter next introduced a pond and grew hybrid Water Lilies. Other projects included a tufa garden and a crevice garden with Gentians and Saxifrages. In his greenhouses Peter grows Primulas and Dionysias using clay pots plunged into a bed of sand. – his preferred method. The garden was completed by growing some Lilies, Pleiones and the Juno Irises from Turkey. This wonderful garden has evolved over 36 years of trial and error by Peter and his wife Beryl.

The vote of thanks was proposed by Alan Oatway who thanked Peter for his talk from which we all learnt techniques on how to get the best from our interest in growing alpine plants.

The next meeting is November 21st when John Richards will speak on the cultivation of Asiatic Primulas. Venue Greaves Methodist Church, Lancaster at 7. 30 p.m.

JF and Syd Cumbus
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