LongHouse Plants Newsletter 2015

One of the many things you learn when growing plants and gardening is that you have to adapt. If the weather patterns change, which they always do from time to time, you may have to alter the types of plants you grow or how you grow them. If you have a heavy clay soil that is wet and poorly drained in Winter and but gets baked hard and cracks during Summer, you either have to invest time, money and energy to try to change the soil or choose plants that enjoy those conditions.

Politicians have changed the basis of assessment of chemicals from risk to hazard. Growers and gardeners now have to do without of a lot of chemical pesticides and fungicides. I am now using an Integrated Pest Management System. This is a range of natural products such as compost teas, plant invigorators and biological controls to protect plants from native and introduced pests and diseases. Any of these treatments in isolation rarely give effective control as it is not in the interest of a biological agent to completely wipe out their own food source. We have to learn how and when to use these products in a cost effective way, or change the types of plants we grow.

On a lighter note the specialist branch of botany known as Taxonomy that considers how plant families relate to one another and how to name them, have studied the large group of plants in the genus Aster and have separated out the North American Michaelmas daisies from the European star asters. So if you come across a “new” plant called Symphotrichum it will be a good old fashioned Michaelmas daisy, a New York or New England aster. We’ll need longer labels!

We have again added some new and different varieties of plants to our range for this year, some of which are mentioned in this newsletter. They appear on www.longhouse-plants.co.uk as they become available throughout the year. If you are looking for something and you cannot see it on the website or in the nursery, it’s always worth asking because I do have a habit of hoarding plants!

Our opening hours – from the beginning of March to the end of September, every Friday and Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm and Bank Holidays 10am – 5pm, or by arrangement; via the website or 01708 371719.

We look forward to seeing you at the nursery this year.

Tim and Jean


I have added two more varieties to my large collection of Agapanthus. ‘Enigma’ is a hardy evergreen with dense bicolour heads of white flowers with violet blue bases on stems up to 75cm tall in July-August. ‘Sandringham’ is an older cultivar raised by The Crown Estates Windsor, a hardy deciduous variety with heads of mid violet blue flowers on stems up to 75cm (30in) tall in summer. Both enjoy a sunny position in ordinary to well drained soil.

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Agapanthus ‘Sandringham’

Ajuga incisa ‘Blue Enigma’ is not what you usually expect from a bugle, being deciduous. This charming woodlander from Japan is a hardy clump forming perennial with spikes of dark blue flowers in Spring on stems 30-40cm (12-16in) tall above green serrated leaves. For ordinary to moist soil in sun to light shade it is a good nectar plant for bees. Anemone sylvestris is another woodlander but from central and western Europe where it grows in meadows and dry deciduous woodland. This Snowdrop windflower is a hardy deciduous spreading perennial with charming solitary white flowers on top of stems 30-45cm (12-18in) tall in April-May, sometimes re-blooming later.

Aquilegias or granny bonnets are popular cottage garden perennials, and I always grow several varieties. New to me this year is ‘Golden Guiness a yellow leaved strain with dark purple blue and white short spurred flowers in Spring. I am looking forward to seeing the flowers. As some of you may know I love Michaelmas daisies/Asters. I am building up a collection of Italian Star Asters which I am planting out with ornamental grasses. Aster amellus ‘Breslau’ has bright violet blue daisy like flowers from late summer to autumn reaching 50cm (20in) tall.

The dwarf carline or silver thistle is from alpine areas of central and southern Europe. In the Basque Region it is traditionally a sign of good fortune. Carlina acaulis subspecies simplex is a hardy rosette forming perennial with spiny silvery green leaves and large dramatic shiny grey-white daisy flowers on stems up to 50cm (20in) tall. These will open on dry days from July to September. Centaureas, pretty members of the daisy family are another of my favourite plants. The blue-bottle or mountain bluet Centaurea montana is widely grown in gardens although the named forms are less well known. I hope to have successfully propagated and grown on ‘Alba’ with white flowers, ‘Carnea’ light clear pink and ‘Violetta’ violet purple. Ready this Spring are a few ‘Jordy’ a hybrid between C. montana and C. jacea with grey green leaves and feathery deep maroon flowers reaching 45cm (18in) tall from May onwards if deadheaded. There should also be a few C. simplicaulis a beautiful small evergreen mound forming perennial with grey green pinnate leaves topped by silvery pink flowers up to 20cm (9in) tall in late Spring and early Summer. It likes a sunny well drained position. Another exceptionally good thistle like plant is Cirsium rivale and this year I have a new form called ‘Trevor’s Blue Wonder’. It is definitely not blue. Not even close! It is red but with a slight blue cast to it which makes it different to the deep wine red form ‘Atropurpurea’ that I also sell. All of the above are very good flowers for bees and other insects.

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Centaurea Montana ‘Alba’ ‘Violetta’ ‘Jordy’ simplicaulis
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Cirsium rivale ‘Trevor’s Blue Wonder’ Cirsium rivale ‘Atropurpurea’

There are more daylilies – Hemerocallis – which are very good on heavy clays. ‘Berlin Red’ has large bright red flowers with yellow throats. ‘Cherry Valentine’ rose pink flowers with a cherry red eye zone and a green throat. ‘Chicago Sunrise’ large light orange yellow flowers while ‘Gentle Shepherd’ large near white flowers with a yellow-green throat. ‘Mauna Loa’has large amber gold flowers with a light green throat. ‘Pony’has large fragrant lavender and cream bicolour flowers with a green throat and ‘Princeton Silky’has large fragrant pink flowers with a green throat. All these are easy to grow clump forming reliable summer flowering perennials and are happy in clay soils. There are over 60 varieties to pick from this Spring!

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H ‘Berlin Red’ ‘Cherry Valentine’ ‘Chicago Sunrise’ ‘Gentle Shepherd’
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‘Mauna Loa’ ‘Pony’ ‘Princeton Silky’


I have a good range of hardy Geraniums and I will be adding a couple more varieties later on in the season. New to me and under copyright is Geranium ‘Rosetta’. I have never grown it before, I am told it is similar to the award winning G. ‘Rozanne’ having a similar growth habit and flowering period (May-September) but being a lovely rose pink.

Hostas are popular shade tolerant perennials with wonderful large sculptural coloured and variegated leaves. There are over 20 varieties for this season with 3 new to me. These are ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’, large cupped heavily textured blue-green leaves, ‘Blue Ivory’, medium sized blue leaves with wide creamy white margins in the Spring and ‘Minuteman’ medium dark green leaves and wide white margins.

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Hosta ‘Blue Ivory’

There will be several different Iris sibirica varieties for sale this year propagated from my large and expanding collection. ‘Baby Sister’ elegant sky blue flowers but only 30cm tall, ‘Golden Edge’ large ruffled mid blue flowers with a golden edge 80cm tall, ‘Imperial Velvet’ rich magenta flowers 80cm tall, ‘Perry’s Pygmy’ soft royal blue flowers with yellow & white 60cm tall, ‘Rikugi-sakura’ soft lavender pink and copper flowers 70cm tall, ‘Vi Luihn’ dark purple blue 70-80cm, ‘Viel Schnee’ white flowers 85cm tall and ‘Weisse Etagen’ clean white flowers 80cm tall.

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‘Baby Sister’ ‘Golden Edge’ ‘Imperial Velvet’ ‘Perry’s Pygmy’
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‘Rikugi-sakura’ ‘Vi Luihn’ ‘Weisse Etagen’


New to the red hot poker range, but not available until later in the year, will be the late flowering dwarf variety ‘Little Maid’ with ivory white flowers opening from green buds on stems only 60cm tall. The award winning Moonstone’ AGM has large cream poker flowers opening from toffee coloured buds in mid-late summer 80cm tall. The copyright protected (PBR) variety ‘Papaya Popsicle’, which I trialled last summer and some of you may have already seen, has a short compact habit, only 60 cm tall with lots of typical poker shaped red and yellow flowers in late summer.

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‘Little Maid’ Papaya Popsicle’

I am pleased to be able to offer a few Itoh or intersectional Paeonies. These are a cross between woody tree peonies and herbaceous varieties. The flowers and foliage often resemble tree peonies. They rarely need staking, have good disease resistance & often display hybrid vigour. Callies Memory’ has very large semi-double creamy apricot flowers with reddish centres up to 23cm (9in). ‘Cora Louise’has very large semi-double mauve-pink flowers with a dark lavender pink centre up to 23cm (9in) across. They flower in May-June.

I love different forms of Persicaria amplexicaulis. They are tough herbaceous perennials that are happy in heavy clay soils, form domes of dense foliage smothering out weeds and are covered in short spikes of normally red flowers from June to November. They are loved by bees and other insects. ‘Blotau’ also known as Taurus is a good older variety with deep ruby red flowers reaching about 90cm (3ft) tall, ‘Dikke Floskes’ is a little bit darker in colour but the flower spikes are fatter, ‘Inverleith’ from Edinburgh Botanic Garden and introduced by Alan Bloom is a shorter variety around 60cm (2ft) tall and a lighter purple hued red.

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‘Blotau’ ‘Dikke Floskes’ ‘Iverleith’

Another big collection for me are my Phlox paniculata which are superb plants. I planted out a stock bed last summer with nearly 40 varieties and I still have to find a new home for another 50. I have over 30 distinct varieties for you this Spring. New additions include Coral Flame ‘Barsixtytwo’ PBR with clusters of scented coral red flowers on short stems up to 45cm (18in) tall, ‘Miss Holland’ white flowers with red eyes 75cm (30in) tall. ‘Miss Kelly’ large perfumed pale violet flowers with a white eye 1m tall, ‘Miss Universe’ pure white 1m tall and ‘Uspekh’ AGM dense heads of rich purple flowers with small white eyes 60cm (2ft) tall. These are easy to grow cottage garden perennials that can flower from mid July to September.

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‘Miss Holland’ ‘Miss Kelly’ ‘Miss Universe’ ‘Uspekh’

I planted out my collection of Salvia nemerosa, S. x sylvestris and S x superba forms last year and hope to propagate some different forms for Summer sales this year. Please ask if you are interested. Scabiosa ‘Blue Butterfly’, also known as Irish Perpetual is a really pretty long flowering perennial. So far, as the winter has been mild, it has been in flower constantly since last Spring and has kept its foliage. The pretty pale blue pincushion flowers are on top of stems 45-60cm tall.

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Scabiosa ‘Blue Butterfly’


I have some different climbers that will be ready for sale around May. Rosa ‘Aimée Vibert’ is an old noisette repeat flowering variety with highly fragrant small double white flower from red tinted buds in Summer. ‘Alchymist’ can be grown as a shrub or short climber, it has fragrant large full double apricot yellow flowers tinted pink in Summer. Vigorous repeat flowering Hybrid Tea ‘Compassion’ makes a return to my range with fragrant apricot pink blooms. ‘Étoile de Hollande’ is another very old variety with highly fragrant large semi-double dark velvety crimson blooms in summer, repeating. ‘Paul’s Lemon Pillar’ is a hybrid tea rose with fragrant large clear lemon/white flowers throughout the Summer. A strong, vigorous grower it is good for a north wall. ‘Paul’s Scarlet Climber’ has honey scented large sprays of double scarlet red flowers throughout Summer. It has glossy foliage, pliable stems and also happy planted by a north wall or fence.

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‘Compassion’ ‘Paul’s Lemon Pillar’
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Paul’s Scarlet Climber’

New bush roses for this year include ‘Champagne Moment’ which has large double lightly scented pale peachy apricot blooms that fade to cream. ‘Golden Wedding’ with large double golden yellow fragrant flowers and glossy green leaves. ‘Valentine Heart’ has fragrant full double soft pink flowers and frilly petals tinged with lilac. All three are repeat flowering floribunda roses.

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‘Champagne Moment’ ‘Golden Wedding’

Trees and Shrubs

I am delighted to have for sale some paperbark maple/Acer griseum this Spring. This beautiful, desirable slow growing deciduous small tree has trifoliate green leaves & superb red & scarlet autumn foliage. The trunk & main branches develop decorative peeling & flaking cinnamon coloured bark.

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Acer griseum

I planted out Anisodontea ‘Large Magenta’ in a stock bed last year to see what I thought of it. This African mallow is a reasonably hardy compact upright shrub with bright magenta hibiscus like flowers from Spring-late Autumn. The cuttings are rooted and I should have some ready by early Summer.

I have some new Camellias this year including C. japonica ‘Blood Of China’ which has large loose paeony form rich salmon red flowers. C. japonica ‘San Dimas’ with large semi-double rich red flowers and yellow stamens – absolutely gorgeous. I love the scent of North American woodland sweet pepper bush Clethra alnifolia and will have a nice batch of ‘Sixteen Candles’ ready this Summer. This compact hardy deciduous shrub has sweetly perfumed creamy white flower spikes in late summer.

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Camellia japonica ‘San Dimas’


I like brooms and feel that they have become neglected as good value garden shrubs, so I intend to start offering more varieties. Although technically deciduous shrubs, the stems remain green giving all year round interest when not in flower. Cytisus ‘Apricot Gem has masses of small golden apricot pea flowers in Spring. If you have room try the summer flowering Spanish broom Spartium junceum which can get 2.5-3 m tall but is smothered in large scented bright yellow pea flowers in Summer.

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Cytisus ‘Apricot Gem’ Spartium junceum

Three Hydrangeas new to me are H. macrophylla ‘King George’ a deep pink mophead, H. m. ‘Merveille Sanguine’ a very deep intense red to plum purple mophead, and H. serrata ‘Diadem’ AGM a pale pink lacecap for a shadier position. Their blooms will be tones of blue on an acid soil. I do have a weakness for collecting and growing different forms of Christmas Box or Sarcococca. These shade & drought tolerant winter flowering hardy evergreen shrubs have a heady perfume for weeks in late winter to spring. S.hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’ AGM is a copyright protected variety which is the result of deliberate cross between S. hookeriana var digyna ‘Purple Stem’ and S. hookeriana var humilis. and combines the best attributes of both parents to give an award winning plant.

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Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Merveille Sanguine’ Sarcococca hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’

Sophora davidii is a medium sized deciduous shrub from China with fine pinnate leaves and small blue and white pea flowers in May-June. It will form a shrub about 2.5-3m tall and likes poor well drained soils in sun or semi shade. Sophora molloyi ‘Dragon’s Gold’ comes from New Zealand where it is known as kowhai and is the national flower. This is an evergreen hardy shrub normally 2-3m tall but can eventually reach 5-6m. It has pinnate leaves and golden yellow flowers 3cm long on old wood during the Winter. Mine is planted in a sunny position against a wall at the back of the house, exposed to cold winds and has taken -14C without any damage. It can be grown in a large pot. This form was selected by Terry Hatch of Joy Plants in New Zealand.

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Sophora davidii S. molloyi ‘Dragon’s Gold’

I used to grow Styrax japonica at my first nursery & have been meaning to grow it again for some time, so here it is! The Japanese Snowbell Tree is a hardy deciduous medium sized tree eventually reaching 8-12 m tall. It has small open bell shaped white flowers hanging from spreading branches during Summer and soft yellow and orange toned Autumn foliage.


Ulmusx hollandica ‘Dampieri Aurea’ is a hardy small deciduous Elm tree of upright conical habit with bright golden yellow leaves eventually reaching 4.5-7m tall. Resistant to Dutch elm disease & tolerant of air pollution & salt wind, this is an easy to grow tree good for screening work and ideal for a small garden.

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Ulmus x hollandica ‘Dampieri Aurea’