Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Thanks to Roy Lancaster for this article in the September issue of the RHS publication 'The Garden'.www.shcn.co.uk/roy1.htm

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Woodland plants seem to be associated with spring but here are three that are at their best now.
They all prefer some moisture as well as shade.
Briggsia kurzii is a hairy leaved creeping rhizome from Sikkim. It grows to about 18" and the flowers resemble a yellow foxglove.
Roscoea 'Red Gurkha' has stout red flowers now. The foliage does not appear until quite late in the spring which makes it a perfect partner for a summer dormant plant.
Anemonopsis macrophylla is an elegant Japanese perennial and flowers for some weeks during July and August. Like the others it likes to be moist in the summer but never too wet during the winter months.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


These beautiful shrubs never fail to delight me. They are shrubby legumes with bright pink flowers and delicate pinnate foliage.
They prefer full sun and a well drained soil.
The first to flower here is Indigofera hebepetala, it makes a wide spreading shrub and flowers on bare wood in early May. It looks a bit like a miniature Judas tree.

Indigofera pendula comes out later and is a more fastigiate grower. It has pinky-lilac flowers that hang from the branches for many weeks.

Indigofera subverticillata beats the lot.
It starts in June and seems to go on all summer and into the autumn. The flowers are pink but fuller and with a hint of peach. Mine is 8' high and was undeterred  by last winter - but I do grow it against a wall.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Three of my favourites are at their best now.

Smyrnium perfoliatum is biennial but it takes a little time to get a colony established.
If you can get hold of a pot of seedlings plant them as they are and leave them alone.
It is the greeny-yellow colour of a Euphorbia and stands at about 2’ high.

Chaerophyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’ is far better behaved. It is perennial and has soft lilac mauve flowers. If you remove the spent flowers you are left with the delightful ferny foliage scented of apples.

Zizia aurea is also perennial, but shorter with neat yellow flowers and a tidy habit. It does not have the same presence as the other two but is an easy and reliable plant.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

MARCH 2010

Despite the slow start three plants have given me great pleasure over the last few days.

Cardamine glanduligera comes into flower almost as soon as it emerges from the soil (usually in late February). It creeps fairly rapidly - but never becomes a pest as it disappears below ground in mid spring. It is yet another superb plant from Elizabeth Strangman of Washfield Nurseries.

The foliage of Veratrum dolichopetalum seems to appear before the rest of the family and is at its best right now.

The widow Iris - Hermodactylus tuberosum -is perfectly happy to naturalize in long grass with Narcissus and Scillas.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


O.K so this winter has been cold.

However, the temperatures here have not dropped nearly as low as they did in the 2000 - 1 winter.
It has just been consistently cool for a long time.

Obviously some plants have died, and some just look battered and will probably recover.

From past experience Pittosporums have an unpleasant habit of looking sick, rallying and then succumbing ostentatiously long after the cold weather had been forgotten.

By July the winter should be just a memory - and not a large corpse.

If in doubt chuck any ailing Pittosporum on the bonfire right now.

Some young plants have a better chance of survival (like Cistus) some plants develop immunity to cold as they age

Is it all bad?

I suspect not.

Losses mean opportunities to try new plants, to revamp areas that were becoming tired and, more importantly, to decrease the slow increment of evergreens.

W are all prone to buy them and a succession of mild winter means they will prosper and subtly upset the balance between evergreen and deciduous. Too many evergreens in Britain gives an unnaturally 'heavy' look at odds with nature.