My favourite month in the garden turned up trumps with fine weather most of the time but sufficient rain to reduce the need for watering of pots and containers to a reasonable level. However, as I write on the 27th we are in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm with impressive lightning and torrential rain – Bank Holiday Sunday, of course! We have been away from home for a fair amount of the time, mainly because of family health problems, but when at home there has been much to enjoy.
But let me begin at the end (so-to-speak), as I want to extol the virtues of two Dublin gardens I visited last week while visiting that delightful city to give a talk to the AGS Group there, a wholly enjoyable experience enhanced considerably by the wonderful hospitality of my hosts, Anne and Billy Moore. The Moore’s garden is quite large for a suburban patch in Dublin, perhaps 50 m long x 15 wide, and including a largish alpine house (of which no more as I want to show you the garden). It is crammed with interesting plants, all grown to perfection by one of the best growers and showers in Ireland. But first a couple of general pictures to emphasise how attractive the overall effect is.
Billy has a good many different trilliums but his pride and joy is his Farrer winning strong yellow form of T. chloropetalum that he selected from a batch of seedlings of T. chloropetalum lifted by the ever-generous Bob Gordon from his wonderful Ulster woodland garden, which incidentally I was fortunate to visit on a Joint-Rock visit to N. Ireland a few years ago. This splendid plant is very vigorous and increases readily so that Billy has been able to pass it around, myself being the most recent and surely not the least grateful recipient. It will have a special place here and I hope that it takes kindly to my very different garden conditions – less shade, higher rainfall and much less shelter.
Close behind the trillium in Billy’s affection comes the most enormous and wonderful, free-flowering plant of the dark yellow form of Daphne calcicola. This is fully 2m across in all directions but only 50 cm high and, as the photos demonstrate, smothered in flowers.
Billy has quite a few rhododendrons, all choice of course, including this quite large plant which he raised many years ago from seed labelled R. wardii. It does not have the characteristic yellow flowers with a magenta blotch as in most forms of R. wardii, but in leaf shape and colour as well as flower form and colour looks to me very like the variety R. wardii var. puralbum. Whatever its pedigree it is a first class, floriferous plant. Another of Billy’s favourites, chiefly because of its wonderful cinnamon-coloured leaf indumentum is R. bureavii; my picture was taken to show the emerging new growth with its covering of white hairs, which will disappear from the upper leaf surfaces as the season wears on but change to a wonderful suede-like golden-brown on the lower surfaces.
I make one exception to my statement above that I would not cover Billy’s alpines in pots here, which you will understand when I say that it is for C. semicordata ‘David Shackleton’. I like many thought that perhaps this fabulous clone no longer exists, but Billy put me right explaining the unbroken Irish pedigree of his plant, which is illustrated below. Apparently, like other semicordatas it is not difficult to propagate vegetatively from side rosettes, preferably taken with a few roots if you can get them. Nevertheless, it remains extremely rare and it was a pleasure to see such a splendid example.
Patricia Maguire and her husband Michael garden in the Dublin suburb of Sandyford where, over 30 years they have developed a magical place, full of interesting and often unusual plants offset and enhanced by hard and soft landscape features created as a result of Patricia’s artistic flair; a Chelsea garden but with much more interesting and varied plantings comes to mind.
Patricia grows this plant, which is not seen that often and certainly not in this condition, in a range of positions from full sun to shade and it seems to grow and flower equally well regardless. A plant of the plantain family. It is endemic to the Gartnerkofel mountain of the Carnic Alps at the Austro-Italian border. It was discovered in 1779 by Franz Xaver von Wulfen, for whom it is named.
Most of her plants are not alpines but one that I noted is a common plant but rarely as compact and closely flowered as this Antennaria dioica ‘Rubra’.
Patricia has a few rhododendrons and this well-flowered plant of this old R. sargentianum x trichostomum var. ledoides cross caught my eye, I love all the daphne-flowered. rhododendrons,
So after that brief excursion into the delights of a couple of the best Dublin gardens, what has been happening back at home? Well, almost all the camellias (with the exception of the rather lovely C. japonica ‘Kumazaka’) have finished now, and a fine display they have given for four months, matched by the bounteous flowering this season of virtually all our rhododendrons – I remarked on the well budded state they were in earlier in the season and they did not fail to deliver. I will show a few, but you must bear with the fact that most are not really small enough to be covered here. R. pseudochrysanthum is one of those that has excelled compared with in any other year, and a lovely thing it is.
(Click on individual photos to see bigger images and more information)
I received seed of this dwarf clematis which grows in sub-montane grasslands and open woodlands from Washing State to Nebraska, from Loren Russell of Oregon many years ago, and each year it has come up and died down with nary a sign of a flower, not apparently unusual according to various accounts I have read, until this year when it produced a few flowers which are not conspicuous but which repay close attention. Hopefully I will get some seed and it will go to the AGS exchange, so if you are a lot younger than me and wish to give it a try, look out for it in the list.
What can I say that has not been said before about this splendid plant that flowers for at least 8 week here in a damp spot in semi-shade; the plant shown is c. 15 years old.
This marvellous plant, derived from the original in Sir Frederick Stern’s garden at Highdown in Sussex, was given to me a few years ago by Ron Beeston, happily it has settled in well – it had one flower in 2016 and ’17 and two flowers now, a real beauty I’m sure you will agree, and not to be followed really, so many plants will have to wait for their spot in the sun until next year.