Visits to local garden centres today to try to pick out more popular and potential mail order selling ‘new’ plants. After visiting half a dozen garden centres on the Isle of Wight and a few others last week I can glean a fair idea about local pricing and the local competition.
Chacewater Garden Centre is not really plant orientated and is mainly a shopping centre for garden related (and unrelated) accessories, clothes and cards. Impressive and well laid out indoors but the outdoor plant sales area was thin and far too hot.
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Andre’ looked good in leaf (no flower) but much the same as ‘Diabolo’ or ‘Lady in Red’.
Leucothoe axillaris ‘Little Flames’ looked good.
Hypericum ‘Sunny Boulevard’ was a pale yellow.
Carnon Downs Garden Centre has a much better plant range and nearly all covered and shaded.
Poleonemium ‘Sulphur Trumpets’ was a nice new thing.
Agapanthus ‘Midnight Star’ is attractive but there are now scores of very similar varieties all with ‘selling’ names. I photographed at least a dozen unknown ones today and Burncoose already lists 28.
Rehmannia ‘Walberton Magic Dragon’ grows to about 3-3½ft.
Campanula ‘Pink Octopus’ has the merit of being rather different.
Pengelly Garden Centre is rather different. A huge multi span selling only plants with few sundries. All beautifully laid out to tempt buyers with a multitude of mixed and clever plant displays. Real show talent here and far the most enticing to buy of the three. Sadly and undeservedly not a single customer for half an hour at midday.Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Chiffon’ – attractive but a bit too tender to grow properly outside?
Hibiscus syriacus ‘Starburst Chiffon’
The dark foliage on Ceanothus ‘Tuxedo’ looked interesting and new but no flowers now.
A wall of nasturtiums was superb.
Penstemon ‘Strawberries and Cream’ – better than some varieties on our website.
Geranium ‘Orkney Cherry’ – superb groundcover.
Leucothoe axillaris ‘Curly Red’ without any winter colour but unusual none the less.
Absurdly named but excellent – Hydrangea ‘You and Me Together’ – Rose and Blue. A rather more double and intricate flower than ‘Fireworks Blue’ and ‘Fireworks Pink’.
2020 – CHW
A three year from planting Embothrium leaping ahead in a perfect position. Hot and dry in poor stony soil.
Hydrangea ‘Fireworks’ by Georges Hut has been out for a while.
Planted as Rhododendron excellens this year it may well be just one form of Rhododendron nuttallii. Bronzy new growth.
But not on the second plant beside it.
Just a very few seeds forming on Styrax obassia which flowered poorly.
Still a few late flowers on Rhododendron maddenii as the weather turns hot with a stiff easterly breeze.
Quinces already well formed and whiteish speckling on the fruits.
Early berries forming on Ilex kingiana. Most years these only go red in the New Year but I cannot see this not happening much earlier this year.
I thought Decaisnea fargesii had no sausage fruits forming but was wrong. A few at the very top of the plant.
The wind has brought down the first unripe fruit clusters of Lithocarpus pachyphyllus. A squirrel has had a nibble already.
A good crop of magnolia buds outside the back yard already.
First flower almost out on Lapageria rosea ‘Flesh Pink’. At Tregrehan in the glasshouse both the white and red forms were full out last week.
2019 – CHW
I almost missed Rostrincula dependens in flower below the Tower. Buddleia like flowers. In our mild winters this is becoming a 4ftx4ft shrub with a woody trunk. It sets a fine crop of seeds each year which Asia is, I hope, germinating.
Lilium superbum with only one flower spike this year and three flowers. Spraying over the bulbs has not helped!
The first seed capsules I have ever seen on Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Red Star’. Still no leaf colouration yet and the central leader has broken (as usual). About three seed capsules in varying stages of development.
First flowers high up on Eucryphia ‘Nymansay’ before the 1st August. They were not showing two days ago.
Clethra monostachya in full flower on Bond Street. Lovely flaking bark too. A Wilson introduction from 1903 but planted here about 20 years ago and now 20ft x15ft.
2018 – CHW
Quercus insignis has recovered from the hit it took in the ‘Beast’ and has produced a good crop of new growth. If it desisted from a second crop of new growth near Christmas it would be much easier for it to come through the winter unscathed.
Nearby Quercus crassifolia is looking fine but here also is late secondary new growth just emerging from the top of the small, young tree.
Seed clusters starting to form on Lithocarpus variolosus with plenty of male flowers all over the tree. In previous years they have not swollen and developed properly into seed clusters.
Another large rhododendron nearly dead from the current drought. This has its roots in the top of a very dry bank.
2017 – CHW
Cannot keep away from Ventnor. So much to see!A fine white lampranthus.
A 20ft tall flower on an Agave americana. You can see that the rest of the plant is dying off.
Kniphofia caulescens from South Africa at its best.
Canna ‘Bonfire’ full out.
Even larger and more mature flower heads on two more dying Agave americana.
Chitalpa tashkentensis flowering sparsely as a small tree on a hot dry bank.
Eucomis bicolor in an outstanding clump. Some flowers full out, some still coming. Looks like there is some natural hybridisation in the clump.
The largest Agave americana I have ever seen. 10ft x 10ft easily!
More dead and finished flower spikes on Puya berteronica.
Freylinia lanceolata in full growth. Too early in the year for its tubular flowers.
A flower bud on Hedychium gardnerianum.
An extraordinary Melaleuca alternifolia with ‘cotton wool’ flowers. Never seen before.
Prumnopitys taxifolia with its juvenile new growth although this 10ft tall small tree looks half dead (as they always do).
Now a real find of something new for the 2018 catalogue. Melianthus villosus from South Africa. Melianthus leaves all right (although green) but look at the flower colour!
Muehlenbeckia complexa with a flower! No idea if it is a male or a female flower?
White lampranthus again.
Crocosmia ‘Honey Angels’ full out.
Various watsonia still just out in flower.
Crocosmia ‘Pauls Best Yellow’ also full out. Not hugely different to ‘Honey Angels’ in reality.
Odd shaped seeds on Cantua buxifolia – not seen before.
Watsonia seed nearly ripe.
2016 – CHW
The quest continues at Ventnor Botanic Garden.A superb new Crocosmia ‘Pauls Best Yellow’ which has green leaves unlike our Crocosmia ‘Solfatare’ which has bronzy leaves and apricot-yellow flowers.
An amazingly large specimen shrub of Bowkeria verticellata, the Natal shellflower bush, laden down with white flowers. This is new for 2017 in our catalogue and these pictures should sell a few!
Kniphofia bruceae had flower spikes of 4-5ft in height.
Bulbine frutescens was perhaps the nicest brand new thing I discovered today. Amazing fun to find such extraordinary new plants. This one the ‘African bulbine’.
The Cordyline australis disease which is killing mature plants in Cornwall is also present at Ventnor. This lot and several others stone dead since last year.
Then a really great find of a very rare new tree which is entirely unknown to me but certainly attractive. Mallotus japonicus, the ‘food wrapper plant’! Tenderish according to Hillier’s but worth a try at Caerhays. I have puzzled over this plant for several years thinking it might be a clerodendron species but suddenly now it has a proper label. Reddish new growth, oddly shaped leaves and peculiar flower spikes.
Is this a tall growing canna or a hedychium? No label of course and I do not have the reference book with me. I guess a H aurantiacum?
This is, I think, a large clump of the new aloe which Clare has found to add to the 2017 catalogue. Very vigorous and spreading here in full sun.
Grevillea ‘Florinda’ – a new one to me with rosemary-like leaves. Unusually late for a grevillea?
Finally an extraordinary cupressus-like conifer; Widdringtonia cedarbergersis, a South African native. You can see that it has male and female leaf forms on different branches on the same tree. It is tender and known as the Clanwilliam cedar.
Another oddity beside this conifer, Podanthus ovatifolius. It is a large shrub with leathery leaves and extraordinary seed pods which start yellow and then turn black. No idea about the flowers as not in any of my reference books.
2015 – CHW
Karol has been out with his drone taking fabulous pictures of the castle.
After the rain the first mushroom of the season appears on the bank above the castle.
Below the greenhouse the very rare Rubus ichangensis is about to produce raspberries in large triangular trusses. I have never seen this species of rubus produce fruit before and there is clearly going to be a bucketful in a month or so. It is a climbing plant which clearly grows to 15 plus feet and enjoys crawling up through and over other plants. It is not freestanding.
Again the rain has induced activity in our earlier swarms of tiny frogs. They are all over the garden and are now about quadruple the size of a month or so ago. If only a tiny percentage have survived thus far there are still a hell of a lot all over the place. It is still hard to understand quite why they are so keen to move away from water (safety while they grow?) but there are certainly plenty of damp shady places in the garden and loads of insects. A mystery to be resolved.
By Georges Hut some self sown seedlings of Rhododendron ‘Polar Bear’ growing out of the stump of a long dead Pinus radiata are just coming out. The very last big flowered rhododendron to grace the season. ‘Polar Bear’ will be out here and there in the garden right through to September when the last plants near the back yard flower. Tremendous scent. The pink form which grows at Burncoose has been over for a fortnight by the garden borehole. Somehow the pink ‘Polar Bear’ does not look right! I can take ‘white’ brown bears but not pink white ones!
A 2003 planted Fagus longiopetiolata is at last making some progress. You would hardly recognise it as a beech tree with its pencil like leaves and close knit branches. I do not think it will be a dwarf tree but it will have to get a move on or be overshadowed by the nearby evergreen Quercus stenophylloides; a Mexican (?) oak given to us by Alan Coombes in 2002. It is now up to 12 to 15 or so feet in rather less years.
Who says there is nothing to see in a woodland garden in July?
I have found out a little more about Mr Harrow and his mysterious late flowering ‘Harrow Hybrid’ rhododendrons. Very much a real breeder with links to RBG Edinburgh and held in high regard by early Rhododendron Society members (formed 1916). Perhaps the subject for another research paper one day. However I think that next summer’s articles for publication might be about acers, ilex or even the convoluted puzzles of the original unnamed Chinese michelias at Caerhays. Even duller than this year’s efforts I fear for all but the most enthusiastic garden historian in about another century. I wish we could find a graduate with six months to spare, real plant knowledge, and more time than me to really get to grips with the archive here. Perhaps upon my ‘retirement’ (I doubt)!
1929 – JCW
(Handwritten note attached to Garden Book page)
Seed to get later:
Specimens of Ekianthus.
9 Cernus rubens origin unknown
9 Himalaicus from Coombe Wood to H White and so here
9 Campanulatus from Rogers of Southampton
9 Deflexus Wilson 4336 from Watsons by seed
9 21656 Forrest.Rhodo 25581 Charitopes
Pink rogue in ?These to go to Edinburgh in July or in October.
1924 – JCW
Plagianthus nearly over though a late season for some things. Drive buddleias are good.
1923 – JCW
Go to Scotland this week, much as above, the Plagianthus and Buddleias are the best things by far. No Auriculatum is really moving yet.
1911 – JCW
A good few cyclamen are up. Buddleias are going back. Mitraria suffered badly in the long spell of dry weather, some lapagerias show, roses coming again.