Monday, 27 May 2013

Davidia Involucrata

My favourite Tree

I'm afraid I am guilty of boring everyone to death about this tree -but if you look at these pictures - I hope you will see why, it really is a stunner.....

It has many common names including The Dove tree, Ghost tree as well as handkerchief tree, all of which are obvious choices considering its habit.

This beautiful tree was introduced to the West from China in 1904 by Dr Ernest H Wilson, who had been commissioned by Veitch's nursery to collect propagating material for "this most wondrous of species". (See below)

 All of the tree's common names refer to the spectacular white hanging leaf bracts that appear in late spring.

Specimens of Davidia involucrata had been sent to Kew, and nurseryman Henry Veitch expressed an interest in obtaining some seeds from which to grow the tree. In 1899, he commissioned a young botanist called Ernest Wilson to go to China and find the handkerchief tree. Having never been abroad and not speaking a word of Chinese, this presented quite a challenge for the 22-year-old Wilson.

With only a hand-drawn map and a few written instructions to guide him, Wilson set off into the remote Yunnan region of China in search of the single specimen known to exist. On his way, he escaped local bandits, survived a potentially deadly illness and nearly drowned when his boat overturned in a rocky river. When he did finally find the location of the tree, Wilson was mortified to discover that it had been cut down and used to build a house. Fortunately he did find other specimens and sent the seeds back to England in 1901 before going on to spend many years in China, finding hundreds of other plants and fame in the process.  (Kew Royal Botanic Gardens)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Chelsea Flower Show in Lincolnshire!

The sun came out for 2 seconds so I rushed for my camera, as today, I was working in a beautiful cottage style garden bursting with vibrant colours.

Here are some really good examples of combination planting with clever use of colours and textures.  

 Look how the beautiful white barked Birch (possibly utilis jacquemontii) is hi-lighted with white tulips around the base.

 The combination of blues and whites always look good together, especially with a dark background - in this example a Yew Tree.

These two tulips look fabulous together; as well as the different colours the two varieties grow at different heights adding more drama to the scene.

 Orange is always a difficult colour in the garden and not always popular, but here you see a brilliant combination of tulip and Euphorbia.

 This is my favourite, the Alliums are just about to flower.  Alliums are always a favourite even on their own but here, hi-lighted by the pink tips of the tulips - they look spectacular.

This is a different garden but again in the cottage style.

See how the dark Heuchera colour is balanced with the orange of the Euphorbia Fireglow, leading the eye down the garden.

Four years ago this was a long herbaceous border with a small bog garden in it.  It was a massive area on heavy clay soil, which took forever to weed.  So we decided to make it into a woodland walk.  We put bark on the floor to help keep the weeds at bay, and look at it now.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

New Plants Discovered in the Gardens at Belvoir

After 18 months of working in the gardens we now have a better idea of where to look out for precious finds, as well as locating those pernicious weeds.  We run a selective weed killing programme making sure the likes of forget-me-knots and bluebells stay and the docks and nettles are kept at bay.  Already we are beginning to see the fruits of our labours….

Bluebells in Belvoir's Spring Gardens

hi-lighted with the beautiful Rhododendron 'Blue Tit' behind

As part of the massive renovation programme last year, some of the Spring Gardens fell victim to heavy strimming.  With a more selective plan this year, we are discovering some real beauties – look at these lovely darmera peltata.  In early spring naked stems appear from thick rhizomes carrying flat heads of pale pink flowers – mixed amongst these ferns, they look quite mystical.  With this area being wet most of the time, this is a perfect place for bog plants. 

Here is the lovely Polygonatum multiflorum, solomon’s seal

And the Metteuccia struthiopteris in front of one of Belvoir’s many stunning Acers.

Here is a complete carpet of Rodgersia

I love all gardens at this time of year, but here at Belvoir, the selection and collection of plants are truly something to behold.  If you are in the area it really is worth a visit.  Please see the website for times etc.