Long House Plants Newsletter 2013
What a year! I think we were all wondering if it would ever stop raining. The weather certainly hampered gardening last year – who knows what this year will bring!
The rainfall recorded here was nearly 39 inches for 2012 compared with the previous year of 24 inches and an average for 2006-2011 of about 26 inches per year – so it was very wet – the wettest year on record since official records began.
What does this mean for us as gardeners? Well…. it’s very difficult to say – should we all change to growing plants for damp areas? This part of the UK is usually drier than the rest of the county, so perhaps not. All I can suggest is that we continue to have fun and enjoy our gardens!
I have again added some new and different varieties of plants to my range for this year, some of which are mentioned in this newsletter. They will also appear on the website 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 appointment; via the website or 01708 371719. I look forward to seeing you at the nursery this year.
Aconitum x cammarum ‘Bicolor’ is an older variety of monkshood with stunning blue and white hooded flowers in summer. Another oldie but goodie is Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group with dark burgundy foliage and white bottlebrush flowers with the most gorgeous perfume on stems up to 1.8m (6ft) tall in late summer. Anchusa azurea ‘Lodden Royalist’ has flowers of the brightest blue on 90cm (3ft) tall stems in early summer. Anthemis tinctoria ‘Hall Farm Frilly’ flowers all summer lighting up a dry sunny site with creamy white daisy like flowers. I also have some new Asters and Astilbes.
Aconitum x cammarum Actaea simplex Achusa azurea Anthemis tinctoria
‘Bicolor’ Atropurpurea Group ‘Lodden Royalist’ ‘Hall Farm Frilly’
Centaurea are still undervalued. Some can be rather ungainly in a pot but in the garden they look superb. They look really good with grasses and can be used to create a “wildflower” meadow. They are good for insects, flower for ages and have lovely seed heads. I have several unusual varieties available and I am starting to experiment with more. Garden varieties of hardy Chrysanthemum are another neglected range of plants. They clump quickly and give a lot of colour throughout autumn and go well with asters and late flowering grasses.
Dianthus are always a delight – clumps of evergreen foliage and perfumed flowers produced for ages. New for this year, I have; ‘Rötkappchen’, ‘Tudor’ and ‘Whatfield Gem’ as well as continuing with some favourite varieties.
Dianthus ‘Rötkappchen’ Dianthus ‘Tudor’ Dianthus ‘Whatfield Gem’ Filipendula ‘Red Umbrellas’
Filipendula ‘Red Umbrellas’ likes heavy damp clay soils, has perfumed pink fluffy flowers up to 60cm (2ft) tall in summer and has fresh green maple like leaves marked with red – what’s not to like?
As always I will have at least 30 varieties of hardy Geranium available throughout the year and have got a couple of new ones as well. These plants are wonderful for giving colour for a long period of time, tolerate a range of conditions most are good on clay soils and are very useful as ground cover. One of the essential backbone plants of just about any planting scheme.
I have got new varieties of the always popular semi-evergreen/evergreen Heuchera which come in a wide range of different coloured leaves. I went through my large collection of Hosta stock plantslast year and can now offer 30 varieties of these popular foliage plants that come in lots of leaf sizes and colours. They can be grown in sun or shade, like clay soils or can be grown in pots. They look really good with ferns.
I have continued with my obsession with Iris. I am building up a wider range of bearded Iris which prefer sunny dry conditions such as a gravel garden. Iris sibirica tolerate damp or dry soils and can be grown in sun or shade. The narrow green leaves emerge in spring topped by beardless flowers in late spring to early summer and come in shades of purple, blue, white and yellow, many with markings on the falls. New to the wide range already on offer are ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Eden’s Paradise Blue’, ‘Pleasures of May’ and ‘Victorian Secret’.
Iris sibirica ‘Eden’s Paradise Blue’ Iris sibirica ‘Victorian Secret’
Another favourite group of plants are the red hot pokers, Kniphofia – new for this year are K. caulescens ‘Coral Breakers’ with striking blue green evergreen foliage and coral flowers, K. ‘Fiery Fred’ named after the cricketer Fred Trueman with orange bloomsand K. ‘Rich Echoes’ with apricot yellow flowers.
Kniphofia ‘Fiery Fred’ Kniphofia ‘Rich Echoes’ Leucanthemum x superbum Leucanthemum x superbum
‘Angel’ ‘Wirral Supreme’
Shasta daisies provide cool summer colour with large white flowers. Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Angel’ is a new PBR (copyright protected) variety only 35cm (14in) tall. ‘Wirral Supreme’ makes a welcome return with anemone centred double white flowers on stems 90cm (3ft) tall. The orange flowered campions - Lychnis x arkwrightii ‘Orange Zwerg’ and ‘Vesuvius’ also provide summer colour but in very bright shades of orange shown off by deep purple-red foliage. These short lived hardy perennials prefer sunny well drained soils.
Malva moschata ‘Appleblossom’ and ‘White Perfection’ are seed raised varieties of musk mallow which produce soft pink or white flowers on stems up to 90cm (3ft) tall from spring to summer – well worth trying. I am growing mine in a sunny dry border with grasses – stunning!
Malva moschata ‘Appleblossom’ Malva moschata ‘White Perfection’
I have been trying to produce a range of the glamorous and gorgeous Paeonia for years but have struggled to get good stock of correctly named varieties. This year however I will be pleased to offer a good selection including; ‘Early Scout’, Eden’s Perfume’, ‘ P lactiflora varieties ‘Amabilis’, ’Bowl of Beauty’, ‘Bunker Hill’, ‘Duchesse de Nemours’, ‘Félix Crousse’, ‘Jan van Leeuwen’, ‘Krinked White’, ‘Raspberry Sundae’, ‘Sarah Bernhardt’, and ‘Sorbet’. An important thing to remember when planting these is not to plant them too deeply – they do not enjoy this and may not come up or may not flower until they have settled themselves in at the right depth.
‘Bowl of Beauty’ ‘Duchesse de Nemours’ ‘Raspberry Sundae’ ‘Sorbet’
My interest in Papaver orientale continues and new for this year will be; ‘Bolero’, ‘Bonfire’, ‘Coral Reef’, ‘Harlem’, ‘Marlene’ and ‘Ruffled Patty’. I found that these plants did not enjoy the persistently wet conditions of 2012.
‘Bolero’ ‘Bonfire’ ‘Marlene’ ‘Ruffled Patty’
Phlox also continue to interest me – they are fantastic garden plants, providing colour and perfume over a long time from summer to autumn. I have created a new display area in the nursery to showcase these and Asters.
I have a new Polemonium ‘Bressingham Purple’ available this year. Theyare such pretty things with decorative purple foliage and lightly scented purple blue flowers over a long period in the summer. Once again I am offering the double flowered Primulas, adding ‘Belarina Cobalt Blue’ to the pale yellow, pink and orange varieties already available.
Polemonium ‘Bressingham Purple’ Salvia x jamensis ‘Royal Bumble’ Sedum ‘Dark Jack’
There will be some new Salvia varieties available. These plants flower for ages, especially if dead headed and are very good for insects. Look out for the shrubby S. x jamensis ‘Royal Bumble’ with red flowers. Val Jones kindly gave me two plants of Salvia reptans West Texas form which I had admired. It has narrow upright grass like leaves and spikes of small cobalt blue flowers in late summer. I will have a few to spare later in the year. Also good for insects are Sedum (ice plants) and I have 5 new ones this year including ‘Dark Jack’ and the award winning ‘Marchant’s Best Red’
I have been growing more Sempervivum (house leeks) recently and have got around 15 different ones to bring out throughout the year. These really do thrive on neglect!
I have a couple of different Thermopsis available this spring – chinensis and lanceolata. They aremembers of the pea family with short lupin like spikes of yellow flowers from spring to summer. Trifolium rubens has proved to be very popular. These low growing ornamental clovers have large heads of flowers loved by insects especially bees. ‘Drama’ grows to about 30cm (1ft) tall with wine red flowers all summer. Like most members of the pea family they do not like poor drainage.
Thermopsis chinensis Thermopsis lanceolata Trifolium rubens ‘Drama’
Shrubs and Trees
Not new to the range but worthy of a mention are two birch trees. Betula utilis var jacquemontii is the much sought after very white stemmed Himalayan birch and B. albosinensis var. septentrionalis is the Chinese red birch with striking peeling orange brown and cream smooth bark. I have a limited number of both available as young plants this spring.
Betula utilis var jacquemontii Betula albosinensis var. Septentrionalis Buddleia ‘Buzz Ivory’
I have two new Buddleia – ‘Buzz Ivory’ and ‘Buzz Violet’. These have been bred to be smaller than typical Buddleia but are still very attractive to insects.
I continue to enjoy Camellias – they are such useful evergreens for our area – fast growing, hardy, tolerant of clay, floriferous (just don’t plant them facing east or the blooms will frost and then brown in the early morning sun) and you can prune them hard. I have more than 60 varieties available and have got 10-12 new ones this year including Camellia sinensis – the tea Camellia.
I love winter gardens and have a large collection of dogwoods that I grow mainly for the colour of their stems, although they often have good foliage, flowers and berries. I have added two new varieties of Cornus sericea – ‘Bud’s Yellow’ and ‘Cardinal’ these dogwoods have yellow and red stems respectively. Plant them to catch the low rays of winter sun.
X Fatshedera lizei ‘Annemieke’ is a cross between a Fatsia and an Ivy. It has attractive variegated foliage and white flowers. It can be wall trained or left to grow into a dense evergreen shrub in sun or shade. Popular as a foliage plant with flower arrangers and florists as it can be cut regularly.
Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Gum Ball’ is a dwarf form of this deciduous tree with glossy foliage turns dramatic shades of purple, red and orange in autumn. Best to keep it trimmed regularly to keep it small.
Romneya coulteri (tree poppy) a suckering sub shrub from California. Grey green leaves clothe upright stems, 2m/78in tall topped by large solitary pure white poppy flowers with yellow stamens in summer.
Romneya coulteri Rosa ‘The Havering Rambler’
I have a good range of roses for this year – continuing to believe that perfume is one of the most important things about a rose! One exception to this is ‘The Havering Rambler’ bred in Havering atte Bower, I think I am the only grower of this rose – it would be a shame if it disappeared.
There are always new Clematis each year – the trick is to grow the ones that are healthy, well behaved and pretty! (I must also mention that not all Clematis are climbers – such as ‘Arabella’). I will have ‘Allanah’, cirrhosa ‘Ourika Valley’ and ‘Freckles’, ‘Fragrant Spring’, ‘OOH LA LA, Pamiat Serdtsa’, ‘Proteus’, ‘Snow Queen’, and ‘Souvenir du Capitaine Thuilleaux’ amongst many others.
‘Allanah’ cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ ‘Fragrant Spring’ ‘OOH LA LA’ ‘Proteus’ ‘Snow Queen’
Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Waterwheel’ and ‘Wilsonii’ are new this year – evergreen climbers with dense foliage and small very sweetly perfumed flowers – wonderful plants!
Grasses, ferns etc
Grasses are another passion of mine – I accept that not everyone will agree with me but I find that they are useful as transition plants, enabling a garden design to change mood. Looking through grasses can give the impression of greater depth. The evergreen grasses provide winter colour and structure even some deciduous grasses continue to provide winter interest, as well as shelter for insects. Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ is a stunning deciduous grass with creamy variegated foliage reaching around 1.5m (5ft). Carex petriei reaches less than 60cm (2ft) and is bronze throughout the year. Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ is a pretty deciduous grass with very ornamental flowers. Two other new grasses are; Sesleria autumnalis and Sesleria caerulea.
Adiantum pedatum ‘Miss Sharples’ is a Maidenhair fern and is typical of its type with deciduous elegant fresh green fronds with a very delicate appearance. Blechnum penna-marina is a short running evergreen with dark leathery fronds.
I hope this gives you a small taste of the many plants that will be available at the nursery this year. I do grow over 4.000 different types of hardy plants and cannot display them all in the sales area or have them all available at any one time, so if you do not see what you are looking for, please ask as I may have some in my growing area.