Another favourite from yesterday’s visit to Marwood Hill Gardens is this bizarrely beautiful Kalanchoe beharensis, or the Elephant’s ear kalanchoe. How can you possibly go wrong with a plant/pachyderm hybrid?
You can strike up friendships in the strangest of places. Well I can anyway. A packed polytunnel at the both marvellous and cruelly irresistible Sampford Shrubs, was one such place. The person in question, who I befriended, or perhaps befriended me, was a visitor from Cornwall. I was on my way to Somerset. On reflection making a friend surrounding by plants is not strange at all. For me anyway. We met, we bonded over row upon row of salvias, dahlias and other delectables, and we went our separate ways. After a few years of house moves and life changes we met once more today, reunited by the would-be demon “social media”. And where better to have this reconnection than Marwood Hill Gardens?
This Meconopsis napaulensis was for me one of the outstanding plants of our visit, although there were many to coo over. A fabulous day.
Of course it was too good to be true. Last week was the intruder, the uninvited guest who agitated the party, whipping up the mob, charming us into believing we could have better. But we can’t. This is the south-west of the UK. It rains. It blows. We have residual webbed feet. I should have known better than to raise my hopes. But I did. Now everything is back to type and I feel disappointed. Which is why I am here, far too early for a Saturday morning, on the set of Carry on Screaming. The wind outside is making ridiculously clichéd sound effects, sleep is impossible.
But let us not descend into melancholia, this blip is nothing that a bit of Six on Saturday can’t sort out. This cure-all is distributed by Dr Prop, medicine man and snake oil supplier to the stars. If you dare, pop over and see what it’s all about.
To begin we have apple blossom, of which there is an embarrassment this year. Or should I say was? I am wondering how much will remain after these gales. Still, we rarely eat the fruit these tiny twisted trees produce. The jackdaws will be remiss, they love their autumn apples.
Next we have a surprise, to me anyway. As the label had been stolen by the fairies/broken/never existed I was under the illusion that in this pot lurked a bizarre root vegetable I had bought from Lidl a couple of years ago. Apparently not. I believe I can say without contradiction that it is a fuchsia. Then it all came flooding back. It is Fuchsia jantasensis and it has been languishing for a few years not doing anything of merit, definitely not flowering. I can quite honestly say that it was not worth the wait. Apparently it is quite variable in form. Not sure this is its best incarnation. The pollen looks like broken biscuits which is rather sad.
Now for a something with a little more potential. Osteospermum ‘JK’ is just about to come into flower. Dependable, weed smothering, bright and beautiful. Sound like anyone we know?
What now? Oh yes, strawberry flowers. Shall we take a moment? I think we need it. Imagine a sun-warmed plump strawberry, plucked straight from the plant in all its virgin glory, at best wiped on the leg of your shorts to remove any slug slime, sweet and fragrant. Better have another one. Fabulous. That feels much better.
The photo is a bit blurry because it was raining when I took the photo, and the wind had already begun its torment. The things I do for you!
This little tulip, Tulipa batalinii, was bought at Marwood Hill Gardens a couple of weeks ago. One pot for me, one pot for my friend. For some reason we thought they would be bright red, possibly because this is what we wanted and somehow by wanting them to be that colour it would materialise. Wrong again. This flower has been wide open and has now quite sensibly decided that the better part of valour is discretion. It is rather pretty, with its green tinged edge. But definitely not red.
A few years ago I saw a truly gob smackingly amazing lily on the television which went straight to the top of the Lust List, Lilium ‘Forever Susan’. Deepest mahogany petals, the tips of which are orange, as if someone has held onto the ends as each were individually dipped. When I spotted a pack in a garden centre I was very excited. When I came to plant them I realised that they were Forever Linda and not Forever Susan. Close, but not close enough. Nice, but not nice enough. I mustn’t muddy my love.
There we have it, another week completed. Stay safe. Remember the strawberries.
I should have. I didn’t. Je regrette tout.
Yesterday I attended, along with Hero and OH, the local Plant Heritage lecture day and lunch at Marwood Hill Gardens. I listened intently, notebook in hand, to talks on scented shrubs and later about botanising in Madagascar. I even remembered to pack my specs so I could actually see the slide show. I wandered around the garden for a meagre hour, enjoying bluebells and magnolias. I scoffed my lunch, including a rather fine mixed fruit crumble and custard, and made new acquaintances. I possibly heckled the Officer in Charge of Raffle Drawing and then won two books (one on rhodies and one about growing fruit. All rather wonderful. But before all this had begun, there was another important job to be completed. Yes, you’ve guess it, shopping! In true plant hunter style I tasered the opposition and perused the fine wares on the plant table.
The result of which is that I have bought another inappropriate plant. There was no deception involved, I knew just what I was buying. I have killed one before. Lachenalia quadricolor, the four-coloured opal flower. Its natural habitat is in crevices of granite outcrops throughout the Western Cape of South Africa. And it will not tolerate frost. What could possibly go wrong? But just look at it, surely not one of you could have resisted!?
I may also have bought a trillium.
When visiting Marwood Hill Gardens the other day we, Max’s Dad and me, were greeted quite unexpectedly with “are you on the team building day?” We looked at each other, both of us wondering which answer we should give. Before committing myself I enquired “is there free cake?”. It appears that this gave the game away. “We are just here to go to the Plant Centre” MD explained. “It doesn’t open until 11.00.” So we had our own mini-bonding session. We drank coffee, sans patisserie, and wandered the gardens admiring the planting, the bird life and talked about building a raft out of empty oil drums and planks of wood. Then we went to the Plant Centre. And, bizarrely, we didn’t buy anything.
This garden is always a joy, these agapanthus one of many highlights.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to escape once I have got my horticultural claws into you. It may involve moving home but, I understand to be true, sometimes the means justifies the end.
Today I spent a special day at Marwood Hill Gardens with Mrs Fish and our mutual friend (and another of my gang) Mrs Bun. A leisurely lunch and an extended dawdle around this wonderful garden was followed by tea and cake until they were sweeping up beneath our feet.
The downside of insisting that your clients are lovely (with adorable pets and good coffee) is that when they leave it is especially wrenching. I am wrenched by your moving to the civilised south Mrs Fish.
Thank you, I will miss you. x