Indoor Meeting: Talk by Jane Lister "Hoecroft Throught the Seasons"

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

20170211 151218

11th February 2017

Jane Lister, of Hoecroft  Nursery and Garden, at Wood Norton, Norfolk, talked of the development of the nursery and gardens over the past 25 years, illustrated with slides from photographs taken by Brenda, who described herself as ' head- cook and bottle-washer'.

The Nursery focuses on ornamental grasses of all shapes, sizes and colours, and plants with coloured foliage, whether trees, shrubs or herbaceous.

Jane described combinations of trees, shrubs, grasses, other foliage plants and flowering species and varieties that would create an interesting effect at any time of the year.

Much of her material was evergreen, or gold, or perhaps pink, white and green, and showed what could be done with very few additional flowering plants, dwelling more on the shapes and textures, and contrasts of stems, leaves, seed heads and forms of growth in differing habitats.

Jane gave us a huge amount of information in the time, and a long description of plant combinations, which are more fully noted on the account in the forthcoming Newsletter.

Jane told us that the Nursery will be closing this year, but the garden will be developed further, for visiting groups. Take advantage of this place while it is still there!

Chris Davies


Indoor Meeting: Talk on 'Flowers in Spring' by John Foster

Written by Brian Ellis. Posted in Events Past

14th January 2017

John began with a potted history of Gable House which was bought in 1965 and was derelict.  Not only was the one acre garden full of stinging nettles, but dead trees seemed to be thriving too!  The first job then was to clear the land, pull the trees out with a tractor and clean the soil by growing potatoes and vegetables to eradicate any nasty weeds, this happened through the first five years.  A good move as John also ran a greengrocers and could supply the shop with fresh produce.  The only remaining tree being the Horse Chestnut at the front of the house.
The garden is planted in layers, below the trees and shrubs there is a layer of herbaceous perennials and below them many, many bulbs.  When the crocus and snowdrops etc die down geraniums are used to fill the space and then later in the year these are cut down to allow the colchicums to show.  The garden is split into three main sections and the early bulbs occupy the first.
The interest in plants was laid in his formative years as John lived in Enfield near to E A Bowles ‘The Crocus King’ at Myddelton House.  His garden was full of rare and interesting plants and  John was taken by his father on open days and plants were purchased then.  There are many Fritillaria imperialis rubra in the garden which originally came from him in the 1950s.  Myddelton is also known for its snowdrops and E A Bowles had a wide circle of friends with whom he exchanged bulbs.
 Although snowdrops fell out of fashion the interest was re-awakened in the 1960s and 1970s and places like Colesbourne in Gloucestershire became well known and is still one of the best places to go to see snowdrops. Henry Elwes lived there and  gave his name to Galanthus elwesii which likes an open, sunny position and is a good parent for hybridisation. Galanthus plicatus was brought back by soldiers from the Crimean War, some found their way to the Rectory at Warham in Norfolk and it is believed that the Rector sent some of these to E A Bowles in 1916.  These two varieties crossed with G.nivalis giving some good hybrids.  
One of the first people to deliberately cross snowdrops was Heyrick Greatorex an eccentric living in Witton near Brundall.  He bred from G.nivalis ‘Flora Pleno’ and G.plicatus although he also grew other varieties such as G.woronowii and G.ikariae. He produced some fourteen crosses named after Shakespeare’s ladies such as ‘Nerissa’, ‘Hippolyta’ and ‘Lavinia’  and the site of the garden has since given rise to many others which are natural crosses.
The year starts with Galanthus reginæ-olgæ, which flowers from September through to Christmas, comes from the peleponnese in Greece and is named for Prince Philip’s grandmother Queen Olga.  Other varieties include G. platyphyllus which grows high in the Caucasus mountains and is grown by John on the north side of the house in shade.
Of the snowdrops on display and for sale, G.’Castlegar’ is one of the earliest ‘main season’ snowdrops flowering from mid December. Originating in Ireland some people think that there is some G. reginæ-olgæ in it’s parentage. G.’Wendy’s Gold’ is one of the better yellows and was found at Wandlebury Ring in Cambridgeshire. Another yellow form of G. nivalis was discovered by John in a Lincolnshire nursery and after some detective work he found that it had been brought down from Northumberland (home to many yellows) by Ray Cobb whose name it now bears.
There are several varieties of aconites growing at Gable House, many from the continent such as the delightful straw-yellow Eranthis ‘Schwefelglanz’ which comes true from seed, a double from Copenhagen as well as E.’Noel Ayres’ found at Anglesey Abbey and E. hyemalis ‘All Saints’ found by John in a local churchyard to name but a few.
As the garden is a good size John and Brenda rely on some good ground cover and one such plant is cyclamen, of these C.hederifolium has some wonderful patterned leaves and some good silver-leaved seedlings.  Cyclamen coumis another useful variety flowering with the snowdrops.   John grows these from seed taken in June/July and sown direct which gets almost 100% germination, the seed is first washed and them sown in trays in a shady spot germination taking a couple of months, these can be potted on in their third year.  
A great plant for scent in a shady spot is Sarcocca confusa which has tiny white flowers and black berries which can still be on the plant when the next seasons flowers open, Arum italicum provides beautiful leaves valued by flower arrangers and in dry shade polygonatum grows well - as long as you keep a watch out for gooseberry leaf sawfly and either pick or wash its caterpillars off.  In contrast Iris unguicularis needs a hot sunny spot as it comes from Algeria. In the autumn it can be cut right down to the base so that the new flowers are not swamped by the old leaves. Other plants grown amongst the perennials include Crocus chrysanthus which quickly disappears after flowering, the ephemeral beauty of Corydalis, and at the front of the borders varieties of Ipheion. One of their favourite shrubs that was planted 25 years ago was a knee-high Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ which is now 20 feet high and full of fluttery blush-white flowers.  It’s advantage over M. soulangeana varieties is that if frosted it will produce new growth and more flowers.
Hellebores are another plant loving the heavy soil at Redisham. The old leaves are trimmed to the base before Christmas to keep the foliage disease free. They are gross feeders and some of the best come from John Massey at Ashwood’s nursery although John showed a particularly dark double ‘Party Dress’ from Robin White.  Amongst these are grown dwarf narcissus including N. ‘Lionel Bacon’ and 'Tête á Tête’ preferred because the dwarf varieties don’t get blown over. Also here are Anemone nemorosa varieties.  After the ‘spring flush’ early aquilegia and Thalictrum aquilegifolium take this area over and the top of the garden takes over as the summer garden from May onwards
Brian Ellis

Indoor Meeting: Talk on 'Hardy Border Perennials' by Barry Gayton

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

Image 29-01-2017 at 02.08

10th December 2016

Barry is locally well known as a down-to-earth experienced gardener.

He advised members to compost all garden waste a and leaves, which he finds makes useful compost, unturned, in two years.

He summarised his own strategy for an attractive garden, saying that he believed in using common plants because they work. He likes to use a mix of shrubs and perennials in borders and throws out plants that don't do well.

His own garden is modelled on the Bressingham notion of 'island beds', and includes tall plants, like Verbena bonariensis, that allow the other plants to be viewed through them.

He has included a number of star performers, for example, Daphne 'Jaqueline Postill', - evergreen, with shiny foliage and good early scent, in March.

Barry included special plants like some species of snowdrops, which flower in December.

He noted that his garden, in Santon Downham, on the Brandon to Thetford  road is in no way a naturally sheltered garden, noting that the temperature on one night last week read -7C, and that in one of the recent bad winters, it had descended -22C.  Barry likes paths to meander through the garden and avoids them looking like aircraft runways!

By growing a great many plants from seed, Barry has taught himself what works, without great expense, and provided himself with knowledge of a huge range.

He advised collecting seed and sowing it as soon as possible, keeping seed trays and seedlings in a cold- frame through Winter..

He recommended buying plants in Autumn. These would have been grown on since Spring and  could be divided and planted from September until the weather gets too bad, to give a better and more cost-effective display, the following year. He reminded us that plants might still need watering during Autumn.

Barry recommended using  pea--sticks for staking, advising that the tops should be bent over into the centre, where they would soon be grown over. Barry grows his own bamboo!

He also recommended circular wide wire mesh plant supports with long straight legs, and mentioned having used copper piping, which corrodes and could deter some pests.

Barry showed a range of slides, describing the advantages of different styles of growth and flowering habits.These are described in the more detailed write-up which will be published in the next Newsletter.

Chris Davies



Scarce Euphorbia !

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in News

Cathy Rollinson spotted a comment that Don Witton made in the autumn edition of The Hardy Plant about Euphorbia epithymoides “Midas” being a good contender for our Conservation Scheme: “my favourite form of my favourite species, but it is becoming scarce…” 
It is currently listed by 3 nurseries in the 2016 Plantfinder and he has included a photograph of the plant at Avondale Nursery although it is not listed for sale in their 2017 online catalogue.
Does anyone grow this plant in your group if so please give Chris a ring .

If your very interested in 'Heucheras'

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in News

If you are very interested in Heucheras, our National Chairman, Cathy Rollinson is looking for an expert among the HPS membership to assist with the RHS Trial.(Request has come from Graham Rice.)
If you know a member you would recommend, or are interested yourself, please contact her (see back of journal for email) or contact Chris Davies, who will forward your message.
Heuchera Heucherella Collage 1b