Friday, 4 April 2014

Friday 4th April 2014.

We were open as part of the National Gardens Scheme yesterday; but despite the gloomy weather and 'pollution' we managed to attract fifty two 'die-hard' visitors eager with early season vigour! As well as raising a modest sum for charity I was most satisfied that the plant everyone was talking about was our Hepaticas, see 'Plants of Interest' page. Our Hepaticas are the result of many  years of hard work by local plant breeder John Anton -Smith and about six years of fussing by the gardeners. We are; however very lucky that they love the conditions in the garden, especially the Lime walk, Wilderness and just under the large Box bush between suite 11 and 7 (probably our most impressive patch). To write about,discuss and eulogise Hepaticas would be easy; but spring brings with it an embarressment of garden riches.....
Fritillaria imperialis 'Rubra'

Approaching the house miscellaneous cheery Daff's are under the large trees and on the terrace a bold display of 'St Patrick's Day' puts in an appearance around the Roses. St Patrick's Day is one of the larger Daffodils; but manages to stand well, a particular favourite as I like it's lime washed yellow. I feel a great loyalty to the humble 'Daff', much maligned as quite a few people get quite snooty about common yellow hues. Mrs Verey loved them; but they do worry people as they give a congested feel to beds, sometimes this frightens the more controlling gardener. I would say steal yourself, they will die down and make way for later interest; but not before providing the perfect spring signature to any garden. They come in white too,I wouldn't be without them. Above the terrace in front of our future xmas tree, Picea brewerana (Brewer's Weeping Spruce)and not to be missed is a fine grouping of rusty red Crown Imperials (Fritillaria imperialis 'Rubra'). Skirt round the house to the Knot Garden, behind which are the lead Verandah planters bursting with the leaves of bulbs and the buttermilk blooms of the small Daffodil 'W.P.Milner'.

Beds 1 and 2 sit in front of the house split by a double row of 'cup cake' Yews that line a path. When on this path and looking at the house Bed 1 is right and Bed 2 is left; also Bed 3 is behind you on your left and bed 4 is behind you on your right. Bed 1 is a sea of spring foliage studded with yellow 'Bellona' Tulips and Tulip 'Princess Irene' dark green in bud (orange when open), blue Hiyacinthes that three years ago were in pots in the house have found their final resting place in this bed. This trick of re-using the Hyacinthes has also been done in bed 2 where a carpet of porcelain blue Chionodoxa cover the ground under the green shooted canopy of a Rose. In bed 2 purple Honesty (Lunaria) and acid green Euphorbia robbiae 'vibrate' off each other; where as the two Tulips 'Purissima'(white) and 'Flaming Purissima'(rose flame) link effortlessly, they are just starting to open so there's a lot more to come here. Near to the terrace in bed 2 the dark purple Hellebores look good with the Hyacinthes.
Fosteriana Tulips 'Flaming Purissima' (foreground) and 'Purissima'

Another acid green Euphorbia; but this time myrsinites, spills onto the paving near to the stone seat, sit on this, to your left is a stocky Daffodil with  limelight flowers 'Avalon', gorgeous and new to the garden. This is bed 4 and next to the steps is a mixture of Hellebores, pink, green, white and black, then more yellow Tulip 'Bellona'spreads out into the bed. Under the conifer at the top of the steps a dark blue flowered Periwinkle (Vinca hirsuta) runs amok; but lovely and it can also be found as part of a spring tapestry that decorates the base of the Magnolia in the nearby pond garden.

Narcissus 'Avalon' in Bed 4
The pond is full of hatchling Toad and Frog spawn, the Newts are later so they are busy performing courtship duties, if you are lucky you may see duelling males! The predominant daffodil in the temple pots is the softly fragrant 'Silver chimes', as is the shrub Oemleria cerasiformis growing closely to the right of the Temple with it's clusters of small almond scented flowers accompanied by spring green leaves. Grassy shoots of Iris sibirica line the pond edge, yellow King Cups are flowering at the Temple end of the pond. Also in the pond garden against the boundary wall the border is filled with bronze, purple and plummy tones made up of Rose and Tree Paeoni shoots as well as the diminutive Tulpa humilis. Once you have left the Pond Garden via the gated railings take a few steps and look back, the bases of these gates are smothered in pink and yellow self seeded Primroses, so disarming, reminding me that Mrs. Verey quite often stated that this is not a 'grand garden!'

Pretty Primulas
The pair of Weeping Crab Apples, Malus 'Red Jade', have established well after being planted about three years ago to replace weeping Cherries that had succumbed to Cherry Bacterial Canker, they are about to blossom and at their feet is a thriving colony of Erythronium 'Pagoda' just coming into flower. Erythroniums, known as Dog's Tooth Violets due to the canine tooth shape of the bulb, come in a variety of pink shades as well as white; but this one is yellow. This pair of trees with their embellished feet can be found at the end of the central Yew lined path as it meets up with the Lime Walk that looks like a hedge on stilts, take a stroll down here. Under the Limes you will see Hepaticas, sweet Violets and Snakes Head Fritillaries. Further down and you're in the Laburnum Walk, either side of which is a sea of grey green Allium leaves, budding Apeldoorn Tulips, green tipped white bells of Leucojum aestivum.
Erythronium 'Pagoda'
Leucojum aestivum
The Winter Walk runs along the base of the garden wall closely parallel to the Laburnum Walk and we did quite a lot of work here over very early spring from relaying the path, with the original bricks, to digging up, splitting and replanting (thorough bed work that is done on a cyclical prioritised basis every late Autumn/Winter/very early Spring somewhere or other in the garden). It's very satisfying to see old favourites like Pulmonaria 'Redstart', Epimediums and Leucojums having a new lease of life coming back up along with Ferns transplanted from the front of house terrace and a fine yellow Hellebore transplanted from Bed 3.
The Broad Border, as it's name hints at, is our largest border and split by a central path; this had the same treatment as the Winter Walk several years ago and is now beginning to shake off the 'thin and immature' look that, for a couple of years, plagues borders that have had serious work done to them. This more established look comes from establishment (obviously); but at Barnsley we measure it in the recolonizing of gaps by self seeders and in the Broad Border the must have self seeder is Smyrnium perfoliatum or Golden Alexanders. This plant is back in force; it's now up to us to 'referee' it as it can take over and my next job is to weed it out from a colony of dark Angelica it is about to mug! 

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