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Autumn 2020

A Year of Surprises  - Chris Hibberd

As gardeners we are fortunate that, regardless of world and national events, we have a constant source of interest and joy surrounding us in our gardens. Only the seasons and   weather affects this focus of attention. The restriction of ‘staying at home’ in March was no hardship as we were all able to delight in the emergence of ‘the joys of spring’ around us.

I have felt particularly appreciative of plant surprises, - those which have done particularly well and some recent new acquisitions. I would like to share a selection of these with you.

 Ipheion Alberto Costillo - increasing happily in a tall planter in a part shaded spot.

This trillium (T. chloropetalum var giganteum) had been grown from seed at least 7 years ago whilst at our previous property. It had languished in its pots until being rescued and planted out last autumn. It rewarded me with this display.

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Patience is also rewarded in growing Anemones. A. nemorosa Robersoniana has taken a few years to clump up to this display. Happily, it lasted for quite a few weeks.

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A narcissus grown for the first time, N. bulbocodium ‘Spoirot’, proved to be a delightful flower of clear white which I felt looked good growing in a pot with the Muscari.

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As April moved into May, I was thrilled to see that the Weigel middendorffiana which, as a small plant had moved with us to this house (alongside the Trilliums), had at last produced flowers. It is very pleasing to have one’s patience rewarded. What a year!

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Our garden is sited near to Lea Rhododendron gardens, just lower down the hillside. This is a double flowered varient of Azaelea lutea which they don’t normally have for sale. This specimen was a one-off and too lanky for display. It certainly earned it’s nurturing and the heavenly scent pervaded that area of the garden for weeks. 

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I planted Scilla peruviana from the recommendation of a keen garden owner from whom we rented our holiday cottage the previous year. This was a true surprise as we hadn’t seen it in flower during our visit.

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June, and it’s Paeony time. I thought that this one was a freak but when I investigated, I discovered that ‘Haiwan Coral’ does change colour to this dramatic extent. I’m not sure that this was a pleasing surprise!

My final ‘surprise’ is concerning planting conditions. I first bought a plant of Tulbaghia from an Agapanthus specialist and understood it to like similar conditions so planted it in a gravel bed. I wasn’t successful with that plant, but attributed the failure to that garden being at 900ft. It was a surprise to see these plants being offered for sale as pond marginals at Blue Lagoon Aquatics (at Scotland Nurseries). It works! This plant survived the winter in our pond outside and has given improved flowering this second year.

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