Friday, 24 December 2010

Season's Plantings

I know it's been a while since I posted just for the fun of it (as opposed to trying to sell you something), I think it's about time though, and an opportunity to wish all my customers A Great Christmas and an Excellent New Year.
The main nursery news is that I'm on the look out for a patch of land to rent to expand the nursery onto. Already I've outgrown the space I have (basically a suburban garden). The greenhouse bench has over fifty new pots of seeds already and if even only a small fraction germinate I have no idea where I'll put all the babies. Of course, I'm hoping that a large fraction will live so that's even more of a problem. At the moment much of my stock is protected in a polytunnel at Stonepit nurseries near here in Henfield (thanks Neil). He grows mostly summer bedding so his tunnels are largely empty at the moment, but come the spring....
Perhaps you could help me find a place. It'll need to be very close to home so I can get over there regularly, and since most of you are not local you won't be able to help with that - but do any of you know how one might go about locating local landowners who might be interested? I have a few in mind that I'll visit in the new year. I reckon I'll need not more than an acre, at least initially, somewhere reasonably easy to find and pleasant for customers to visit. It needs to be open and sunny (more so than here) and suitable for building display beds and benches (plus of course the poly tunnel and a potting shed), and it needs to be for at least five years. Anyway, any advice would be very gratefully received.
So 'What's in the pots?' is what you really want to know. What's new for 2011? Well hopefully a whole lot of stuff you won't have heard of. The internet is a wonderful thing for locating obscure items that no one else is offering. I've had seed sent from all over the world, but mostly the USA, including from a couple of botanically minded friends I met on Flickr who've sent me exciting things from California. There is of course something of a risk in that the plants are not thoroughly tried and tested in the UK, but that's half the fun. Gardeners all over the UK have been very adventurous of late - trying out all manner of 'hardy exotics' and succeeding with a surprising number even through the last three winters. I'm a huge fan of the Correas - an Australian group that flowers at this time of year and has proven remarkably tough. On the left there is C.Marian's Marvel. This and others should be available later on in the year. Another Australian, Grevillea victoriae is also flowering well in it's pot in the open at the moment, and has been since October despite snow and frost. I hope to be able to offer some later in the year.
Most of the new things will be spring and summer flowering though. I'm trying out a whole lot of species from the mid-western USA at the moment - in particular the wild species of Penstemon - a hugely neglected genus of over 250 species varying from tiny cushion forming alpine and desert plants to some quite substantial shrubs. Most are very cold tolerant (unlike the well known bedding hybrids) and in a stunning array of exciting flower colour and form including clear azure and lapis lazuli (always sought-after colours in the garden.) Most need a very sunny, freely drained site which makes them ideal for gardens on chalk or sand or gravel and especially in the south and east. It's been something of a fashion of late for nurseries to specialise in plants for cool, moist, shady conditions - Tricyrtis, Deinanthe, Anemonopsis - to name but a few - all excellent plants, but sometimes difficult to grow well in this part of the country. If you don't have a dry sunny garden, species Penstemon are excellent in raised beds and pots, but for people with a parched impoverished border where 'nothing much will grow' they should definitely be considered. Anybody who's into the hardier American Salvia or Agave should have no trouble.
In a similar vein I've also been working with Asclepias - another little-grown North American group, often from the same habitats. The appeal is less obvious perhaps but for those who appreciate something a little different they are well worth a look.
Besides these I'll be offering an increasing range of choice shrubs, climbers and perennials, almost all chosen because hardly anyone else offers them, and I'll be revealing them in this blog as they become available through the year.
Anyway folks - thanks for your custom and hope to hear from you again.
Take care on the ice and have a very merry time.
Steve 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Actinidia tetramera maloides (previously sold as A.pilosula)



A gorgeous climber - similar to the familiar A.kolomikta but with narrower, more richly coloured foliage. The rosy white blotched leaves act as coloured bracts - drawing pollinators to the small pink (but very pretty) flowers hidden among them.
Adaptable and vigorous.
3L pots ~ £14




Thursday, 2 September 2010

Monarda bradburiana

Monarda bradburiana

Monarda bradburiana
A very classy bee-balm - just as easy and adaptable as the better known didyma types but with flowers of a soft rosy pink, framed by rich maroon tinged calyces and bracts. A very striking combo.
1L pots ~ £6




Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Magnolia wilsonii

Magnolia wilsonii
With nodding flowers in early summer and attractive fresh green foliage this is an ideal small tree/large shrub for light woodland or to mix with other woodlanders such as Acer and Euonymus.
Very interesting fruits too.
Magnolia wilsonii fruit
Like most Magnolias it will need a deep, moist and fertile situation but does not require lime-free soil.
1L pots ~ £12




Helianthus mollis

Helianthus mollis
I've never really been into the perennial sunflowers (Jerusalem artichokes are a typical example), which I'd have previously dismissed completely as coarse and garish. Lately though I've come to appreciate them more and more, just for their sheer exuberance and sunniness.
Helianthus mollis
The ashy sunflower is a case in point. The foliage is of good quality and complements the soft golden yellow flowers, which are produced over a long season in summer and autumn.
Any rich soil in sun.
3L pots ~ £8




Iris confusa Martyn Rix


Iris confusa
One of the peculiar evergreen 'shrubby' irises - that is, the usual iris fans of foliage develop at the top of green bamboo-like stems up to 18ins off the ground. The frilly mauve flowers appear on further stems above in spring and may be followed by further fans of leaves. The total effect is quite exotic and somewhat orchid-like.
These plants are cuttings from a colony growing vigorously in dry shade in a local garden and have been unaffected by the recent harder winters.
1L pots ~ £7




Monday, 9 August 2010

Sophora davidii

Sophora davidii
A very lovely medium sized evergreen shrub with fresh green pinnate foliage and white flowers tinted dark violet. The more vigorous stems are also dark violet and can be a feature in winter. The seed pods too are a bit unusual.
Adaptable and easy in any well drained sunny site.
5L pots ~ £14




Salix lanata


Salix lanata, originally uploaded by peganum.
Another excellent small to medium sized shrub and unusual in that most plants with silvery or glaucous leaves prefer dry conditions. Our native woolly willow however, like most willows, thrives in heavy and wet soils and does not mind some shade (though more silvery and compact in sun.)
Be aware though that this is not one of the miniature 'alpine' species and can grow to three or four feet tall and twice that across.
For any soil that does not dry out too much, in sun or semi shade.
1L pots ~ £12




Hydrangea involucrata

Hydrangea involucrata
Why doesn't everyone grow this? A reliably neat dwarf Hydrangea with dense heads of mauve flowers (with a few white 'lacecap' florets surrounding) and plush foliage.
Hydrangea involucrata
Best in shade or humid conditions and mustn't dry out at the roots.
3L pots ~ £15




Crusea coccinea

Crusea coccinea
A relatively new plant to cultivation, this Central American woodlander with vivid red tubular flowers is in fact related to the tropical Ixora and Bouvardia. Not very hardy but easy from cuttings or in a sheltered shady garden perhaps.
1L pots ~ £7




Euptelea polyandra


Euptelea polyandra, originally uploaded by peganum.
A collector's piece - the two species of Euptelea are unusual hardy deciduous small trees or large shrubs (to about 5m), somewhat reminiscent of a Tilia perhaps but not closely related to them or to anything else for that matter.
Euptelea polyandra
The flowers are a dusky reddish colour with prominent anthers but are more curious than striking and this is one of those trees (like Zelkova, Nyssa, Cercidiphyllum or Parrotia for example) grown more for foliage effect and overall form.
Adaptable in sun or semi shade. I've not tried it on chalk, but I've no reason to think it would object as long as not too dry.

7L pots ~ £20 Too large to post


Silene zawadskii

Silene zawadskii

If you have ever admired the fresh white blooms of the white campion but wished it wasn't quite so weedy this might be the answer. This 'alpine' version is very neat and adaptable.
3in square pots ~ £5




Silene zawadskii

Monday, 5 July 2010

Lychnis coronata sieboldii


Lychnis coronata sieboldii, originally uploaded by peganum.
Unexpectedly large (2in) salmon orange flowers over a long period in summer. A Japanese relative of our native red campion, and just as easy to grow in sunny borders or semi shade - anywhere as long as not too dry.
10cm pots ~ £6





Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Hypericum aegypticum, balearicum & reptans


Hypericum have something of a reputation for being rather nondescript shrubs, suitable only for unimaginative municipal plantings. There are quite a few very choice miniatures though. Here's a couple of them.


Hypericum aegypticum
A terrific little shrub for a hot dry spot, looking perhaps more like one of the shrubby Linums than a Hypericum.
Bear in mind that it stays very small (just a few inches across) so avoid invasive companions, but otherwise ideal for a sunny raised bed or a trough with other Mediterranean sun-lovers.
My plants have come through the last two winters unprotected here in Sussex without difficulty.
10cm pots ~ £6







Hypericum reptans
Hypericum reptans
Another very small species, this time creeping over the ground like a thyme. The flowers though are more like the more familiar shrubby species - rich golden bowls and quite substantial for such a tiny plant.

Hypericum reptans
Fully hardy and suitable for any open sunny well-drained spot with other small plants.
sold out for now

Hypericum balearicum
Hypericum balearicum
A choice and curious little evergreen shrubby species for a sunny sheltered site with free-draining soil. Quite hardy here so far.
10cm pots ~ £6




Please please please, may I humbly request that you check with me that the plants you require are in stock before you order? Otherwise we'll have to arrange refunds.

Thank you so much.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Buddleja lindleyana

Buddleja lindleyana
A very striking species and not at all what you might expect a Buddleia to look like.
Buddleja lindleyana
The rich purple flowers are tubular and have a waxy bloom to them which gives a particularly richly coloured effect and are produced over a long period in summer.
1L pots ~ £8




Salix myrtilloides Pink Tassels


Salix myrtilloides Pink Tassels, originally uploaded by peganum.
There seems to be some confusion about whether this is a form of myrtilloides or myrsinites. Either way it's a remarkable little alpine willow with shimmering mauve pink catkins in spring and periodically through the summer.
Forms a low, gnarly shrublet as many dwarf willows do, probably covering a sizeable area eventually, but not to the extent of smothering other things. I'd recommend growing it with other robust alpines like dwarf geraniums, Dryas or thymes and with small bulbs coming up through it. So far very adaptable and not bothered by drought but probably better on a moist gritty 'alpine' sort of soil, in a raised bed or rock garden.
1L pots ~ £8




Sunday, 6 June 2010

Silene asterias


Silene asterias, originally uploaded by peganum.
A lovely little Bulgarian species unlike any of the other Silene in cultivation that I'm aware of. This has tiny flowers massed into thrift-like heads well above the rosettes of fresh green leaves.
The combination of vivid pink (what colour is that? carmine?) flowers in dark wine red bracts and the violet anthers is extremely striking. The foliage is good too.
In cultivation it is an easy and adaptable species suitable for any moisture retentive soil but is particularly useful for wet sites where something smaller is required.
1L pots ~ £7




Friday, 21 May 2010

Saruma henryi

Saruma henryi
An unusual small spring-flowering herbaceous perennial (related to Asarum - Saruma being an anagram of course) but with crinkly three petalled yellow flowers.
Naturally a woodlander but easy-going in ordinary soils as long as not too dry.
1L pots ~ £7




Aquilegia rockii

Aquilegia rockii
A small Asiatic species, with flowers of a deep wine purple with a distinct buff interior, but, as usual with Aquilegias, variable. The foliage is strikingly edged black.
Easy in any soil that doesn't completely dry out but avoid overly aggressive neighbours.
4in pots ~ £5