Brexit Redux – Part II

From Ashwood, we headed south, stopping for the evening near the town of Shaftesbury at the small, but lovely Coppleridge Inn. We arrived just after dark, which made the last hour of driving down narrow winding roads more treacherous than we would have preferred, but at least we arrived before the dinner hour wrapped up. The English love of drinking is legendary and sure enough, it seemed that everyone in the town was at the Coppleridge Inn pub for their evening rounds of drinking and socializing.

Coppleridge Inn Pub

After a lovely breakfast at the Coppleridge Inn, we headed out on the short 10 minute drive into the quaint town of Shaftesbury for the annual Shaftesbury Galanthus Festival…my first chance to see rabid galanthophiles in action. Galanthomania (maniacal collecting of snowdrops) has exploded in the UK, like coronavirus in the rest of the world, with both being quite costly once you become infected.

We arrived at the Shaftesbury Art Center, where we were asked to stand in a very tiny cramped lobby until time for the program to start. The lobby held only a dozen of the nearly 200 attendees of the program.
The registration table was guarded closely by the Galanthus King to make sure no one picked up their badge before the appointed hour. I’m assuming he must be royalty of some kind, by the size of the Mr. T starter kit that hung around his neck.
After two amazing talks, we were directed into the alley behind the Arts Center where we stood in line for nearly an hour to wait for the Snowdrop vending to begin. Perhaps some organizational assistance could help them in minimizing wait times…thank goodness the weather was decent.
The vending area was a bit of a madhouse, being far too small for the number of symposium participants to safely shop from the amazing array of vendors. Snowdrops ranged in price from $10 to several hundred dollars each.

When we arrived for the morning talks, we were informed that the town doesn’t have enough parking and because of that, the pay lots require that you leave for 1 hour, after a four hour stay.

At breakfast, we had discovered that we were only a 30 minute drive from Stonehenge, so we decided that it would be our lunch break. Neither Hans or I had ever visited Stonehenge, so this break allowed us to check out what should be a required mecca for all serious rock gardeners.

Despite not seeing a single road sign until we reached the turnoff to the stones, the site receives over 1 million visitors annually. We arrived to find a bright sunny, but brisk day, where for time’s sake, we opted to ride the buses from the visitor center to the stones. In recent years, the Stonehenge visitor center had been moved quite a distance away from the stones to preserve the integrity of the site.

Transportation to see the Stones….the Stonehenge Stones, not the other famous British Stones
We shot photos from virtually every angle and in every light exposure possible, since you never know if you will have another opportunity.

Time to return to Shaftesbury for the final talk of the day, a lecture by our friend Dr. John Grimshaw.

Brexit Redux – Part I

With the ink barely dry on the Brexit signing in early February, and well before Coronavirus panic hit, it was time for a return trip to the UK for another round of plant collecting. Accompanying me is Walters Gardens plant breeder, Hans Hansen of Michigan. Who knows how much more difficult it might become to get plants from across the pond into the US in the future. In reality, it’s pretty darn difficult even now.

Our trip started with a return to John Massey’s Ashwood Nursery, which is widely regarded as home to the top hellebore and hepatica breeding programs in the world. Although I’d been several times, I’d never managed to catch the hellebores in flower, and although it’s hard to predict bloom timing, we arrived at the beginning of peak bloom. We were able to visit the private stock greenhouses, where the breeding plants are housed, and what amazing specimens we saw. Below are the latest selections of Helleborus x hybridus from the handiwork of long-time Ashwood breeder, Kevin Belcher. We were able to return home with a nice collection of plants very similar to these to add to our gardens and breeding efforts.

I had long wanted to see some of Kevin’s special hybrids (below) with Helleborus niger. The first is Helleborus x ashwoodensis ‘Briar Rose’, a cross of Helleborus niger x Helleborus vesicarius.

Helleborus x ashwoodendis ‘Briar Rose’

The other is Helleborus x belcheri ‘Pink Ice’ , a cross of Helleborus niger x Helleborus thibetanus. I’m pleased to report that both are now in the US.

Helleborus x belcheri ‘Pink Ice’

Next we were allowed to visit the hepatica breeding greenhouse…an amazing greenhouse where plants were just beginning to flower. Below is Ashwood owner, John Massey (r) and Hans Hansen of Walters Gardens (l).

John Massey (r) and Hans Hansen (l) at Ashwood’s hepatica breeding greenhouse
Hepatica world…thousands of pots
Hepatica japonica carmine flower
Hepatica japonica pink striped flower
Hepatica japonica x maxima
Hepatica japonica ‘Benten’
Hepatica japonica Burgundy

Our final treat before we departed was a walk around John’s amazing home garden…a treat during any season…even winter. Although the light was too bright for good photography, I hope these photos can in some part convey the amazing wonder of his garden.

Cyclamen coum and C. hederifolium combo
Polystichum settiferum and galanthus
Fern stumpery
Betula utilis var. jacquemontii ‘Doorenbos’

For the Love of Hostas

Hostas are incredibly tough plants and will get along fine in almost any garden…but they look their absolute best with just a little extra attention. Here are some tips to grow beautiful hostas in your garden.

Despite hostas durable nature, there are many myths circulating about growing hostas, one of which is the term Originator’s Stock. Originator’s stock is simply a superfluous term for saying that the plant in question is the correctly named clone. Click here for more debunking!

Asarum – Wild Gingers

Plants in the genus asarum are small but exquisite, deer-resistant woodland perennials that thrive in moist but well-drained conditions with light shade. Many asarum species are evergreen and make a great ground cover in the woodland garden. Here are some images of asarum in the garden this morning.

Asarum are one of our specialty collections at Juniper Level Botanic Garden, with 86 species and 529 unique clones. Join Tony in the gardens during this Gardening Unplugged video garden chat about wild gingers.

The flower color of asarums are usually burgundy or purple, but we are always on the look out for variants. Towards the end of the video Tony shows a yellow flowered form, Asarum ichangense ‘Ichang Lemon’, which we hope to have available for 2021. We do have another yellow flowered form we are offering for the first time this year, Asarum ‘Tama Rasya’.

Asarum ‘Tama Rasya’

Adult vs. Juvenile

We get really excited about adult (mature) forms of ivy (Hedera) that are shrubs (arborescent). Juvenile (young) ivy vines, like a young child, run around the garden and get into things they shouldn’t. Like kids, ivy goes through puberty, which happens only after it crawls high (30-40′) into a tree or other tall object. It then settles down, stops running and becomes woody, with a compact, evergreen growth habit. It also begins flowering (an amazing pollinator attractant), sets attractive fruit, and we have seen no errant seedlings in our trials.

Just as adult people grow rounder with age, arborescent ivies also change shape and the leaves lose their lobed appearance and the growth becomes dense and woody. By propagating from these difficult-to-root adult parts of the plant, the adult ivy plant retains the mature characteristics and no longer feels the need to crawl around and conquer the rest of your garden.

We have offered selections of adult ivy in the past. We feel they offer a great year-round interest feature in the garden but they have not been particularly well received (maybe this is due to the stigma inherited from their younger siblings). Would adult forms of ivy be a plant you would like for us to offer again?

Holy Hosta!

Our hostas have happy roots!

Hosta ‘Apple Pie’

Hostas are often touted as the best shade-loving plants for the perennial garden. At Plant Delights Nursery our hostas are all container-grown and are multiple-division plants that you can immediately divide.

All of the hostas that appear in this post are from our own breeding program at Juniper Level Botanic Garden. Learn more about our breeding program here.

Surprise!

A cold front that came through Raleigh, NC yesterday brought much needed rain and cooler temperatures. Coupled with the hit and miss showers last week, the first of our lycoris (surprise lily, hurricane lily, spider lily) have started to emerge in the garden. We look forward to a steady procession of “surprises” as we move into late summer and fall.

Phil’s Gold

Lycoris have long been a geophyte (bulbs, corms, tubers, etc.) of interest, and since our climate is perfect for their growth, we are attempting to assemble a complete lycoris collection, and sort out some of the taxonomic misinformation, as well as to make many unavailable clones available to more gardeners. Here at JLBG, we currently grow all of the Lycoris species and over 650 unique clones, making this most likely the largest lycoris collection in the world.

We are currently working on our fall catalog and eleven lycoris made the fall catalog cut, including eight first time offerings. Keep your eyes out….we’re coming to a mailbox near you

Pink Floyd

Friday Morning Podcast

When designing your garden, incorporate as many visual treats as possible. So in addition to selecting plants for their attractive flowers and leaves, consider choosing some perennials for their ornamental seed or fruit.

Here are some decorative seed pods in the garden this morning!

Opuntia
Hosta
Yucca
Amorphophallus

The Smells of Summer

Fragrant flowers are an often overlooked (or under-smelled) feature of the garden. But planting a garden full of fragrant flowers delights the nose, both day and night.

The summer garden is full of wonderfully fragrant plants to tickle your nose and calm your senses. Here are some images taken yesterday in the garden…if only they were scratch and sniff!

Hymenocallis

Join us for our 2019 Summer Open Nursery & Garden Days, July 12-14 and 19-21 and experience the fragrances of the summer garden for yourself!

Echinacea

When thinking about fragrance in the garden, don’t forget about foliage as well. Plants like rosemary and Illicium are amazing additions to your fragrance palette.

Illicium ‘Florida Sunshine’
Crinum

Don’t Let Gardening Bog You Down

If you have a soggy area or damp soils, don’t drain it! We have marginal aquatic perennial plants for wet soil that are great for landscaping everything from rain gardens to bog gardens. These garden perennials love moist spots and will make you fall in love with perennials that dry soil gardeners only dream of growing. Damp soil plants range from carnivorous plants like sarracenia and bog plants like hymenocallis that need full sun.

Bog with pitcher plants (sarracenia) and crinum.

Many bog plants like sarracenia also do well in containers as long as they retain consistent moisture. Click here to learn more about their culture and growing sarracenia in containers.

Pitcher plants available in our sales house.