Wednesday 12 August 2015

A day out in the East Riding

Waterlilies on the lake at Burnby Hall
I had a friend, Troy Marden from Nashville, Tennessee, staying at the weekend, and on Sunday took him out for a trip round the East Riding of Yorkshire, south and east of here. First stop was Burnby Hall in Pocklington, where the famous feature is a lake with an extensive collection of waterlilies, but it is set in pleasant and well-maintained grounds with a diversity of different garden styles. The waterlilies were looking lovely, with many classic cultivars forming big patches, but although it's National Plant Collection of Nymphaea it is sadly lacking in modern cultivars, so by no means displays the full spectrum of colours and habits. There is an excellent little museum there too, commemorating the life and travels of Major Percy Stewart and his wife Katharine, former owners of the Hall and creators of the lake and gardens.

Nymphaea 'Juliana'

I've never seen such a floriferous Romneya coulteri as this patch in the Victorian Garden at Burnby Hall - quite magnificent.

It was a great surprise to see Incarvillea olgae in the Victorian Garden - it's a very unusual plant.

The next port of call was Mires Beck Nursery, North Cave, which grows both ornamental perennials and a very wide assortment of native wildflowers sourced from Yorkshire stock. We've had many thousands of their plugs to put in at the arboretum, but I'd never visited the nursery, and I needed to pick up some cowslips, so it was a good opportunity to look in. Mires Beck is far more than just a nursery, being a registered charity offering work and training for people with learning difficulties and other disabilities, and in addition to the usual appurtenances of a nursery there are several nicely kept garden areas and a modern building with a big hall. It's definitely a cause worthy of support and we will continue to buy our wildflowers from them.

A planter at Mires Beck Nursery with an attractive combination of native and 'garden' plants - Euphorbia myrsinites being most conspicuous. 

Burton Agnes Hall from the east. The globe sculpture in the pool spins round, slowly and elegantly .
From Mires Beck we made our way to Burton Agnes Hall, situated in the Wolds between Driffield and Bridlington. It's a beautiful brick-built Elizabethan/Jacobean house, dating to 1598-1610, and has some beautiful architectural features and superb interiors.Most remarkable of all is the extraordinary art collection, with works by an array of great artists across the centuries, and some very fine work by less well-known painters too. As an indication of the quality the interpretation panels don't even mention the Renoir or Gauguin.

The site is intimate - no vast park here, with the walled garden close by the house, outbuildings and church not far away, and a beautiful Jacobean gatehouse at the main entrance. Adjacent to the house e are lawns and clipped topiary, with a formal pool on the east side, but the walled garden is the centrepiece. Divided into various sections, it is full of interest and diversity, and very charming, but one feels it's past its best and needs refreshing. A thorough overhaul of the large shrubs would be a good start. But the potager is actively maintained, with good vegetables coming on amongst lots of annuals.

A fringe of hydrangeas around the skirt of the house complement the mellow brickwork. 

The house through a fringe of hollyhocks in the walled garden.

There is no ornamental plant with foliage of this colour and magnificence - we need to bring red cabbages into foliage schemes. 

It was good to see a fine patch of the old Sahin selection of Amaranthus cruentus, 'Hot Biscuits'

and I was delighted to see handsome specimens of Dipsacus laciniatus, having a liking for teasels...

The penultimate stop of the day was the chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head, still with abundant kittiwakes on their nests, and gannets flying past in files.

A huddle of harebells on the very edge of the cliff.

And finally - the Rudston monolith, the tallest (7.6 m) Neolithic standing stone in Britain, also reputed to have a dinosaur footprint visible, but this takes a bit of imagining.

Friday 7 August 2015

Nice plants in my parents' garden

Crinum x powellii 'Album'. In the early '90s I remarked to Primrose Warburg that we'd had two stems on this, to which she replied that she thought she'd had forty on hers (planted at the foot of her washing line post).
I had an hour or so at my parents' home in Maidenhead yesterday afternoon, and took some iPad snaps of plants looking good in the garden. Most of the planting there was put in by me in the 1990s, and it is interesting to see how permanent some plants are while others have faded away over the years. It is a warm, south-facing plot in a very mild area, on well-drained loam, so it's a very favourable site for plants that are not reliably hardy in colder areas.

Agapanthus praecox, grown from seed from plants that grew in my garden in Tanzania. It has been hardy here for about twenty years.

Allium senescens and Eryngium bourgatii 'Oxford Blue'

A mystery Allium that has appeared - thoughts on identity are welcome!

A nice combination in my mother's planter of Aeonium 'Zwartkop' and Plectranthus argentatus
Fresh fronds of Polypodium interjectum 'Cornubiense' forming a lush carpet

Lavatera cashemiriana came from Chris Chadwell in 1991 and maintains itself by self-sowing modestly.

Myrtus communis, originally grown from a cutting liberated from a garden in Charmouth, Dorset, in 1982.

Myrtus communis 'Variegata' is generally said to be tender, but this has been unscathed here since it was planted in 1991, justr like its plain counterpart. It was grown from a cutting supplied from the Oxford Botanic Garden for the plant propagation class in my Botany course in 1987.

Cynanchum sp.  - a curiosity as a hardy, climbing asclepiad, with tiny almost black flowers, followed by typical pairs of capsules looking like inflated horns , with silky-haired seed. It sows around, but doesn't really warrant its space.

Ivy Broomrape, Orobanche hederae, on ivy roots in a dry border by the drive. A fun plant that parasitises only ivy so can't do any harm to anything else - and the ivy copes perfectly well.