Friday, 2 April 2010

Hepatica foliage

John Massey of Ashwood Nurseries very kindly showed me round his garden and Hepatica collection this morning. His collection is almost certainly unique in this country, containing almost all known wild taxa in the genus, plus many horticultural selections from Europe and Japan. In addition, John has crossed many species for the first time, bringing together their best qualities in some remarkable plants. The plants were past their peak flowering period, but this enabled their newly-expanded foliage to be admired - and as this remains attractive through the growing season it is a major point of interest for the garden for months after the rather ephemeral flowers have dropped. Three particularly attractive examples are shown. From the top downwards are shown: Hepatica nobilis 'Cremar', a selection made by Severin Schlyter that breeds almost true from seed; one of John Massey's hybrids betwen H. henryi and H. acutiloba; the large, unmarked leaves of H. maxima, an endemic of the Korean island Ullung Do. Although these were all in the greenhouse, plants of H. maxima in the open garden were also looking superb, suggesting that it has value as a woodland foliage plant.

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