Despite the inclement weather forecast, an intrepid group of four Group Members turned out for this visit to Holm House, which unfortunately clashed with a Plant Fair at East Ruston Old Vicarage. Nevertheless, we were in for a treat!
The family moved here four years ago, and the magnificent ‘old’ house was only built eleven years ago. We entered up a long, gravelled drive, and in the middle of the turning circle was a splendid formal pond with fountains, flanked by well-trimmed holm oaks (Quercus ilex).
The owner, Rebecca Shelley, gave us a guided tour of their 10-acre garden. The formal gardens surrounding the house were well planted incorporating several fine pieces of statuary, which were elegantly positioned.
A recent project has been the building of a 2-acre lake made of puddled clay with an island, already home to a family of Canada geese & mallard ducks. The lake is now stocked with trout. Surrounding the lake is a beautiful wildflower meadow, full of colour from poppies, oxeye-daisies and the rare bee orchid, (Ophrys apifera).
Rebecca has a splendid area near the house for growing cut flowers, complete with greenhouse. Husband Phil showed us his wonderful vegetable garden, most of which was under a net cage. The vegetables matched his military background, according to his wife, being positioned in very neat, well-spaced rows!
The family cat pretended to be uninterested but followed us round the entire garden! The peacock was always to be seen, usually looking down on us from up high, his mate being occupied sitting on her eggs. Wild birds seen recently included a marsh harrier, a Schedule 1 listed bird on the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Unlike other parts of Suffolk that day, the weather managed to stay dry as we were entertained afterwards with lovely refreshments.
HPS Holiday to Worcestershire, 3rd-6th June 2019
11th May 2019
Liz Bloom and her partner Graham Boutell warmly welcomed Group members to their garden. The garden has been evolving since 1968 and has increased in size from ½ acre to the present 1.4 acres.
The first area I explored was the woodland walk which I found out is Liz’s favourite part of the garden. The unusual varieties of herbaceous perennials certainly caught the attention of visitors. There were a number of plants that particularly fascinated me. Two varieties of Epimedium, firstly ‘Amber Queen’, which has delicate amber-yellow flowers held on very wiry stems and secondly ‘Spine Tingler’ which has curious long spurs, pale lemon flowers, held about saw-toothed margined leaves.
I was also intrigued by Disporum uniflorum, Yellow Fairy Bells, with its nodding and narrow shell-shaped pale-yellow flowers held on arching stems. Other plants which members spoke warmly about were Cornus canadensis and Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ (aka Lamprocapnos).
From here I walked out into the relatively newly planted woodland area which is surrounded by rough grass intersected by mown pathways. This turned out to be Graham’s favourite area and is planted with a variety of trees in order to give year-round interest. Two trees particularly caught my attention, firstly Cercis siliquastrum, Judas tree, which was in full bloom. Its’ clusters of bright pink pea-flowers looked stunning when the sun shone. Secondly, I also enjoyed listening to the leaves of the variegated Liriodendron tulipifera ‘Aureo-marginatum,’ variegated tulip tree, rustling in the breeze.
Other highlights included a beautiful display of rhododendrons in full bloom, and a beautifully laid out kitchen garden complete with greenhouse.
The visit was made completely memorable by the laying on of tea and biscuits together with a plant sale.
Photos by Irene Tibbenham
April 13th 2019
Photos by Chris Davies
Despite the weather looking at bit unreliable we arrived at the venue just in time to be greeted by a shower of hailstones, but we gardeners are made of sterner stuff than the threat of a few April showers. Apart from a sprinkling of rain when we sat down to tea the sun shone and the garden fought to outshine it.
I knew we were in the right place when our host made us quite welcome and advised us the she did not have lawns just grass so we were free to explore. It seemed that many had taken the opportunity to raid the plant stall, as we could see members scurrying back to their cars with various pots and plants.
Being a lover of spring gardens, as I always think they are much prettier and more delicate than Summer’s offerings or the bold jewel colours of Autumn, I was as they say “ a pig in a midden” along with some friends I discovered in the back garden. The garden did not disappoint although there was some competition as to who could find the many hidden animals scattered around the flower beds and lawns. The garden was a maze of plants in flower and plants about to start their growth, now were those Hostas further on than mine? It was nice to find another Hosta collecter and to know the passion was not just confined to me.
I would be hard pressed to list the plants as I tend to just enjoy the looking rather than trying to remember what I had seen, but certainly the daffodils made a distinct impression as my own are dead and gone, that is apart from the pot I bought from the visit. The other plant which became obvious to my beady eye were the Cowslips which I have tried to grow unsuccessfully on several occasions, mind you it took years to get Snowdrops to flower. Hellebores, another passion, were many and varied and the double varieties seemed to do well, I wondered how they got to be such big plants as mine tend to be just one or two stems to a plant, seems I must try harder.
Mine Host Jane, furnished us with a grand list of 24 trees growing in the garden which I will not bother to write up again, but they provided shelter and home to the many birds we could hear singing their little hearts out. I duly inspected the Camellias which are another passion, but I only have room for two in my tiny plot. Jane informed us she has had to make a special bed for them to get the acidic soil they need, I meanwhile only feed mine in the spring and apart from planting in the correct soil years ago I get masses of flowers and have to prune them back to keep control.
The garden was a sheer pleasure for any plant gatherer and there seemed to be something to look at wherever you went, up and down paths, and with no distinct lay-out every corner or bend presented something to see and plenty of seats to just sit on and enjoy the warm sunshine. Tea and cakes rounded of a pleasant day out and the excellent signposting got us there and back.
THE FOUR SEASONS – Tony Goode - 9th March
Our last talk of the winter season was given by Tony Goode, national collection holder for crocus spp. Tony explained that he did not have a professional background in horticulture but an early interest in growing alpines from bulb and seed led to increasing involvement with exhibiting at alpine shows and ultimately to curation of the crocus collection. His Norwich garden is relatively small with sandy soil so he grows many specimens and the crocus collection in pots, though choice bulbs and alpine plants also feature in the main garden throughout the year. As a keen photographer, he illustrated his talk with beautiful images of plants, planting associations and gardens, sometimes to the musical accompaniment of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. As a local gardener he helpfully commented on those bulbs that will fare less well or better in Norfolk. For example, Narcissus cyclamineus does not enjoy Norfolk dry summers whereas N. bulbocodium is more tolerant of dry conditions. For the same reason he recommended Corydalis Craigton Blue, which goes dormant in very hot weather. Lilium pyrenaicium will struggle in Norfolk gardens, unlike L. martagon which will do well. He confessed to rarely having the time to leave his home county and visit other gardens but featured 3 that he has found particularly inspirational: Compton Ash with its sand bed and extensive use of tufa, the garden at Ashwood nurseries and Branklyn. But the most surprising ‘big garden’ photograph of all was of a spectacular meadow of crocus Tommasinianus taken at our very own Earlham Cemetery.