Plant to be named after Len Speller? - Adrian Bloom, Bressingham Gardens

Written by Peter Lyle. Posted in News

 
  

Plant given to Adrian by Len, pictured at Foggy Bottom

Len worked as a volunteer at Foggy Bottom for a number of years and was a valued member of the gardening team. He was a knowledgeable plantsman and as we all know had an enthusiasm for all plants, but particularly for Japanese maples, of which he had a considerable collection at his home in Wymondham. 

Len brought a plant of a seedling Lamium he had found in his garden three or four years ago and it was planted up in Foggy Bottom to see how it would perform and if it was different to others on the market. It turned out to be a good ground cover with attractive foliage and very free-flowering in spring with pale pink flowers. Sadly Len died after an operation on 23rd December 2016 and as a contributor to Foggy Bottom, and of course as a  valued member of the Hardy Plant Society, it would seem fitting to name this plant Lamium ‘Len Speller’. There are plans to have plants available from spring 2019 in the Bressingham Gardens catalogue but in the short term it needs to be verified that this is indeed a cultivar that is different to others presently available to the public. There is nothing quite like its variegation with the combination of flowers in existing cultivars (on a sunny spring morning the flowers look much lighter than the soft pink they exhibit during most of the flowering period) but it would be good if other members of the society were able to also look into this question of identity. There appears to be no National Collection of Lamiums, but if any HPS member is interested in researching this or making any comments with regards to its uniqueness, please could they send their findings to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as soon as possible. 

As an addenda - HPS members who knew Len might be interested to know that several Japanese maples from Len’s collection were purchased last year and at least one of them will be planted in the new Japanese-style garden at Bressingham before its opening in 2019. 

 

Garden Visit: Batteleys Cottage, Wortham, Suffolk

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

   

11th August 2018

 Members were welcomed to the garden by the owners, Linda and Andy Simpson, on a bright, warm day, just after the ‘changeable’ weather had set in, following the weeks of drought.

Linda said that she had a special announcement to make, and proceeded to explain that, after having moved there in 2010, and spent the subsequent years clearing and developing the garden, they had begun to open, and raise funds for the NGS. She had waited to see how many of us would turn up and pay the entry fee, and was delighted to tell us that our contribution had taken their fund-raising to over £10,000.

About 30 members joined the visit. From the first, there were beautiful little groups of plants, adjacent to the front door, and every little corner and nook. As we rounded the house, a charming typical Suffolk cottage, but with the individual character that develops over time, the view expanded across a lawn, with a central bed, notably stocked with pink and white cleome, and a metal sculpture.

   

From the lawn, surrounded by interesting plantings of shrubs and perennials, a number of pathways disappeared into the surroundings, although the eye was taken round the periphery by regular splashes of Orange flowers, in pots, set on the edge of the borders.

Everywhere, as we wandered between the plants, there were places to sit and look at a peaceful  view, or the pond, or noisy bird-feeders. Linda and Andy had placed a large pot of Zantedeschia aetheopica in the pond. This was actually floating, although the pot was submerged, and caused a few of us to doubt the evidence of our own eyes, as we saw it gently drifting across the pond, presumably prompted by goldfish nibbling around the roots.

  

Those of us who like variegated plants were attracted by a clump of Lysimachia clethroides ‘Geisha’, with its pretty, crooked spikes of white flowers and pale cream variegated leaves, and also a bright crimson Phlox, with variegated leaves, P. paniculata ‘ Mary Christine’, with much stronger colour in the flowers than the better-known P.’Norah Leigh’. Both the Lysimachia and the Phlox were growing next to plain green versions of the same plant. Linda owned up that the plain ones were reversion from the variegated, but she had separated the clumps, and they made an interesting contrast with each other. There was also a smart clump of a very pale-leaved variegated persicaria, providing lovely contrast to the green growth nearby.

     

    

The little pathways led to varied parts of the garden, several in shaded areas, perhaps with an atmospheric, mauve clematis, draped through the trunk of a tree, or a Lutyens-style seat, with clumps of early-flowering cyclamen, in pink or white, blooming against the shiny, black leaves of Liriope nigrescens. There were hostas and ferns in the shade, and heliopsis and echinacea in the sun. A glint of sun on the water picked out a stream, with the sound of a cascade, behind another well-placed seat, chosen by a couple of discerning members to enjoy their refreshments.

        

In many places there were surprising little artefacts, all adding to the sense, as one member put it, that this was very much a personal garden.

Linda and Andy had individual vegetable gardens, and the piles of logs, both old and overgrown, providing homes for small creatures and insects, and the smart, fresh ones, no doubt storing fuel for the Winter, added to the individuality of the garden.

      

To complete our visit, there was a large table and chairs, shaded by an umbrella, on the lawn, and another large table near the house, where members could enjoy their tea and choice of delicious cakes and reflect on the lovely day and well-planned garden stocked with interesting plants, of which, Linda knew nearly all the names.

        

Chris Davies

Norfolk and Suffolk Group HPS Summer Social 2018

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

28th July 2018

Sue Bulbrook had been persuaded to host the Summer Social after having held her daughter’s wedding reception in their beautiful garden, last Summer.

Since this year started with a long period of snow, excessively low temperatures, then a great deal of rain, Sue was already struggling before the 50+ days of drought immediately preceding the event.

The first rain, several hours of it, occurred on the day before, and it was slightly showery while we were setting up on the morning. However, the sun shone, the caterer  arrived and members were welcomed with a glass of wine or home-made elderflower ( from Sue’s own shrubs), or other cordial before roaming round the garden and meeting other members.

We had provided members with name-badges, requested by a fairly new member, and useful to many of us who remember faces, but not names, unless, of course, they are plant names.

Sue had been complaining bitterly that her garden was not as colourful as she would have liked, - and it certainly wasn’t as orange as it was two years ago when we were last there,-  due to the vagaries of the weather. Without that background knowledge, the garden was still interesting in its layout and design, the plant associations and colour-schemes, as well as the textural relationships between foliage, stonework, and  containers.

The stepped terrace, directly outside the back of the house, with groups of tables and chairs, provided vantage points for members to admire the immediate groups of colourful and varied plants in pots, and the collection of Japanese Acers and others on a tiered stand in a shady corner. From there, we could glimpse inviting pathways between the shrubs and flower beds to hidden glades beyond.

There were a number of large trees in the garden, providing shade, and green lawns - an unusual sight for many of us just now. A degree of excitement was caused by a sudden cracking sound when a large branch of an old Acacia tree broke and swung, hinged by an edge, fortunately not close to anyone, but giving Judy Wilson a near heart-attack.

The lunch, of delicate canapés was enjoyed by all, but perhaps mostly by those who got there first!

We had a plant stall, for which some members brought fresh plants. Other than that, they were the ones being nurtured ( or otherwise) by Linda and me, and we were very grateful to members who bought them, helping us to fund-raise for the Group.

A newish member brought some pots of seedling Lapeirousia, also known as Anomotheca, and apparently correctly known as Freesia laxa, ( but don’t quote me there!). Several members examined them in perplexed interest. I was rash enough to buy some. ( See separate note).

After lunch, Linda called the raffle, for which we had plenty of donated prizes, all of which, I trust, went to good homes.

There was then time for a final scan of Sue’s interesting plants, a brief wander, and, for several members, an excursion into Sue’s husband, Lee’s,  mystical Workshop, where he, with the mind of engineering scientist, worthy of the title of  ‘inventor,’ showed some of his projects and equipment.

Starving members, and their passengers, came round to my garden for a cuppa and a cheese roll before facing the drive home.

The general feeling was that Sue’s garden was better than anybody had a right to hope for and a good day was had by all.

Since numbers of members attending were half what they have been in recent years, the committee would be interested in changing the format to suit more members.

Did you consider it too expensive?

Was it too soon to visit the same garden again?

There was a suggestion that an evening meeting, perhaps later in the Summer, would attract more members. An earlier one would suit, if John and Brenda were organising the holiday in another month, than June, 

if a lot more members were prepared to contribute food, it would be feasible to return to our old ways, but for just the committee to do it is too much work, we don’t get to take part in the event, and we can’t produce enough food, given reasonable expenditure of our voluntary time. 

Tell us what you think.

Chris Davies.

 

               

                                  

 

Indoor meeting: Talk by Joe Sharman on 'Variegation'

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

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13th January 2018

Joe said the organisation of variegated tissues in plant cells can be seen through a microscope. This is where variegation starts from.

It can be caused through environmental conditions, viruses, pattern gene variegation, chimera, of which there are several kinds, and transposons, ( or switching genes).

Joe showed a range of slides of plants illustrating variations on variegation sources and patterns.

Variegation starts in individual cells, at an early stage of cell division, and the same variegation multiplies as that cell divides.

White variegation contains no chlorophyll and these cells are smaller than cream or yellow ones, containing a little chlorophyll, and these are a little smaller than green ones, so that when a white  layer of tissue, overlays a green layer, or a green layer is bordered by a white layer, as in variegated leaves, the leaves may be puckered or twisted.

Each layer of tissue in a leaf may be differently pigmented from the others, and this will show as different shades at the surface. The absence of chlorophyll may also affect the proper shape of the leaf because of the cell size differential.

Frost, sunburn, chemical effects and access to specific mineral nutrients can also cause superficial variegation. This will alter in new leaves when those conditions change and wouldn’t be passed on to seeds, or remain in cuttings.

Viruses in cells can cause a range of variegation, some of which is considered decorative. This is subjective. The existence of a virus can be proved if it transmits to another plant.

Pattern gene variegation is controlled by chromosomes in the cell nucleus. This is a source of silver variegation, when the layers of the leaves become separated, and is most often seen in shade-loving plants.

Red and purple colours come from anthrocyanins, when present in the cells. These colours are not linked to the chlorophyll variegation, so are selected separately by nurserymen.

A chimera is composed of more than one form of DNA, Joe compared this to cancer in humans, but in plants it is not necessarily life-threatening. This does not necessarily cause variegation in plants. 

Variegation from complete layers of cells is more stable than when the variegation has started from wedges of colours, as in stems.

Examples of sectorial chimeras were Euonymous and Acer negundo ‘ Flamingo’. This creates an unstable chimera, in which reversion to green is likely, and will grow at the expense of the variegated tissues.

Monocotyledons plants produce their variegation from a linear row of cells, which, as they divide to lengthen the leaf will maintain the variegation that each started with.

Transposons are genes which can be ‘ switched’ on or off, and will cause one of two colours at any one time. They are capable of switching during the cell’s lifetime. He showed a plant with finely speckled all over variegation as an example.

Another example was a dahlia with some petals entirely white whilst the others were entirely red, due to a gene switch in relevant petals when they were composed of only one cell. 

 Joe explained what seeds of different variegations were capable of.

Transposons always produce seedlings with transposons.

A seed from a variegated plant will be capable of producing a  seedling of the colour carried by it. Seeds carrying no chlorophyll- producing capacity may grow an embryonic root, but not a viable plant.

Joe said that in Britain and in Japan, variegated forms of wild plants could always be found.

 This was our longest talk ever 2hr 10min.

Chris Davies

 

Indoor Meeting: Talk by Jim Payne 'Celebrating Winter'

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

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9th December 2017

Jim noted that this was a small specialist nursery of 20 years standing and their catalogue was only available on their internet web “shop”, or as plants in the RHS Plantfinder.

They grew 1200 to 1500 plant varieties, including roses, and were specialists in flowering crab-apples and dogwoods.

Unusually but very usefully, Tim showed a diagram of the Earth’s movement around the Sun, showing it’s inclination, and clearly demonstrating the way sunlight falls on Earth through the seasons, because Earth’s axis is tilted towards the North Star, so tilts away and towards the Sun according to the section of it’s orbit. The angle alters the concentration of light falling on any part of the planet, giving long shadows in Winter.

Photosynthesis slows when there is less light, so leaf contents are partially reabsorbed by the plant, allowing other pigments to show through, creating the autumn tints.

Gardeners may take advantage of the leaf fall to assess the shape of trees and shrubs, with regard to pruning and training.

Jim considered four aspects of plants for the garden:- Fruit and wildlife, Bark, Flowers, and Evergreens.

He listed the qualities of a number of Crab apples, noting their attraction for Fieldfare and other birds, moving on to describe the relationship of a number of seeds to the bird species gardeners might expect to see.

Several varieties of trees, including Betula, Prunus and Acer species were recommended for their Winter bark, then Winter- flowering shrubs, finishing with the evergreen ones, a number of which were highly scented, such as Sarcococca and Chimonanthus praecox.

Jim then continued to describe the flowers of late Winter, moving into Spring, depending on the weather, including Helleborus, the small Irises, such as reticulata and its varieties, and Hepaticas.

He recommended a visit to Cambridge Botanic Gardens in Winter.

Finally, a list of Winter gardening jobs was described, with some information and reminders about our changing climate.

( See the full write-up in the next Newsletter.)

Chris Davies. 

Indoor Meeting: Talk by John Massey 'Autumn into Winter'

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

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11th November 2017

John gave us a wonderful, beautifully illustrated talk, strewn with his own gentle humour and a great deal of information and ideas.
John used the development and planting in his own garden to illustrate his talk.
He said that when the trees were leafless was a good time to assess their shape and required pruning. This was a time to take hard decisions, like when it was time for a tree or shrub to be removed because it was no longer enhancing the garden.He liked to juxtapose natural shapes with topiary, and trimmed holly.

Coloured bark, of silver Betula and Cornus, were complimented by evergreens, such as black- leaved Ophiopogon, Hellebores and various bulbs from late Autumn, ( Colchicums), through Winter (Galanthus).
He recommended keeping deadheads to show the effect of frost, and cutting them back when they became battered, and keeping view- lines clear, especially when use could be made of ‘borrowed landscape’.

Grasses should not be cut back until new growth comes through, and Hydrangeas should be treated with care to protect next year’s buds from frost.
Berries added to the Winter decoration, although many do not last for long. They attract birds, in his case, a flock of Waxwings, which extends interest in the garden. John recommended crab apple, Malus ‘Indian Magic’, whose fruits last well.

He said he likes to create little pictures within the garden, noting the use of evergreen ferns with snowdrops in his stumpery, and large pots, planted with Winter foliage and bulbs, with the addition of dry honesty seed pods and similar decorative items.
The first shrub to bloom after Christmas is Hammamelis, although young, newly planted specimens can be killed by frost before they are established.

John pointed out that the Japanese climate is more similar to ours than the American climate, and this could be used as a guide when choosing plants. Cloud pruning was another way of keeping shrubs under control, whilst maintaining an interesting shape.
Moving onto Spring, John said he used their idea, where gardens tend to be very small, of using the borrowed landscape as background and repeating related plants in places in order to link the garden and background.

He showed us a drift of white Fritillaria meleagris, which he said had all been brought to this part of the garden by the squirrels.
Early Alpine plants were mentioned, and then John’s recent obsession with Hepaticas. He recommended removing old leaves just before the flowers open.

He closed with a series of pictures of beautiful Hepaticas set to the background music of a Chopin Nocturne.
This was very moving as we had only recently heard of the sudden death of John’s young Head Gardener, at the age of 27, and John had mentioned his loss and shown some pictures of them together, with his family, during the talk.

Chris Davies