Andrew from Dolton
List customization using the above LIST OPTIONS feature is an advanced feature available to premium-membership members and sponsor listings.
In My Garden, September.
“…and when I am here I spend more time writing at my desk than outside in the garden. But to maintain my sanity I need at least one full day a week in the garden. It works better than any pill, better than any medicine. Earth heals”.
Until the end of the eighteenth century nearly all the roses we grew in Europe only flowered once at mid-summer. There was however a race called the autumn damasks that gave another scat of flower around September time, ‘Rose de Rescht’ is one of these. The blooms are very double and very flat in strong cerise pink with a rich sweet old rose fragrance typical of all the damask roses. In our damp, cool, blackspot prone climate, it is a particularly trouble-free and disease resistant rose to grow. It was discovered apparently in the middle east by the plantswoman Nancy Lindsay. Now, if one was being charitable one would describe Ms Lindsay as “fanciful”, if one was not she would be called a blatant liar. In 1945 she partook on a rather mysterious plant collecting expedition in the area that backalong was still called Persia. Some of the plants she apparently collected never grew in that location, this rose was reportedly found near the city of Rasht by the Caspian Sea, although sceptics have compared it as identical to the old French varieties ‘Bernard’ or ‘Perpetual Pompon’. Compact, healthy, free flowering, what ever its origins are, it is a very undemanding and rewarding rose to grow.
In the hedgerows berries and haws are ripening. There are two very common briars, the field rose and dog rose that right now are festooned with hips. If you look hard and carefully you occasionally find a third species of rose. Rosa dumalis is known as the glaucous rose because of the bluish sheen on the new foliage. The flowers have fuller petals and a much richer pink colour than a dog rose making it look very obvious when in bloom. The hips are also bigger, a lighter orange, and have a leafy frill upon their tips. This is called a calyx; it what remains of the green bud that once protected then supported the petals. In other roses these shrivel away as the hip begins to ripen, but on this rose they persist making it very easy to identify when in fruit. It has the most ferocious prickles! Sickle shaped and razor sharp they will rake a bloody furrow in your skin at the slightest provocation. Randomly scattered; there is a plant on the way to The Beacon, another in Aller Road toward Cheribeer and in Hollocombe and so on sporadically across North Devon. However, any book will tell you that Rosa dumalis is absent in the west only to be found much further north and into Scotland. Even the Reverend W. Keeble Martin, long term resident of Torrington rectory and commemorated with a blue plaque. He wrote and beautifully illustrated the invaluable Concise British Flora, but never described the rose as growing in this location. I was very doubtful myself until it was confirmed as the glaucous rose by experts. Why it is has not been noted in this area before is a mystery.
The feeling of autumn is very strong already after weeks of chilliness with some amount of rain almost every single day; maples and horse chestnuts are already beginning to turn. Autumn can be a melancholy time of year; a lament for the summer just passed and concern for the winter to come, like mourning for lost youth and dreading your impending old age.
© AndrewtheGardener 2/9/17.
In My Garden, August.
Who misses or who wins the prize,
Go, lose or conquer as you can;
But if you fail, or if you rise,
Be each, pray God, a gentleman.
THE VERY REVEREND S. REYNOLDS HOLE.
Several years ago I planted Hydrangeas, taken from hard wood cuttings; they have now made good flowering sized plants. If there is a hard winter, 2010 for example, in my garden, they will be killed right down to the ground. They recover from this however but it will stop them flowering later on that year. The best way to prune them is in March; remove all the previous season’s spent flower heads cutting back to a healthy pair of buds. Otherwise just prune out the older wood, three year growths and older or they will lose vigour and become unproductive and it will encourage newer and stronger growths from down below. To give them the best protection from frosts I grow them in a west facing site between a densely planted group of birches and trees on the boundary. This not only protects them in winter but also gives protection from late spring frosts that will easily burn off any new shoots which they seem all too impatient to want to grow. The foliage of birches will never completely cause total shade. However closely planted they are, my 30 trees are planted 60 cm apart in a crescent shape; no matter how tight they are there is always dappled sunlight shimmering through.
Each year I endeavour to try and name their varieties. Hydranga flowers vary so vastly depending on the age of the blooms or the PH of the soil. My soil is just the acid side of neutral; here pink, white or blue Hydrangeas retain their initial colour. In an alkaline environment the blues all turn to pinks. I once worked in a garden on the edge of Dartmoor, the soil was so acidic it was almost off the scale, every Hydranga no matter what variety soon flowered the most vibrant Oxford blue. I’m trying to find their names; I think one is a large mop headed variety called ‘Vicomtesse Vibraye’. They are the most tediously difficult plants to identify, little wonder their local name is Changeables.
Rosa roxburghii is in fruit now. Called the Chestnut Rose for good reason the rounded hips are covered in masses of tiny prickles. Very unrose-like, the leaves are composed of up to 19 tiny leaflets and very attractive peeling bark, the growth is far more angular and shrubby than any other rose. In fact so unrose-like is it that it is only on the cusp of being a rose, on the borderline of being given its own genus, Platyrhodon. The flat single flowers are pale pink darkening at the edges opening during June and have an ephemeral beauty lasting a day or so. The fruits become yellowish as they ripen and fall off all together often in the space of a day or too. These hips have a pleasant fruity smell, in its native China they are made into a delicious wine.
I’ve got, dahlias, roses, sweet peas or potatoes, onions, beans etc at home as good as that! Maybe you have; comments over heard at the flower show, but, these people have bothered to enter, to prepare and display the flowers or produce they’ve worked so hard to raise. I’m always astonished at the high standards of the Flower Show coming from small villages of around 1,000 people. Not just horticulturally, but the general overall high levels of craft and artistry. It’s something that Dolton and Dowland should be very proud about.
© AndrewtheGardener 13/8/17.
In My Garden, July.
“You left us nothing but the bare thorn and our bleeding hands; but now our hands are healed, and the thorn is beginning to flower. Remember that”.
J.B. PRIESTLEY, A Summer Day’s Dream.
During this month I begin rose pruning, the once flowering damask, alba and gallica roses can all be tidied-up ready for next year. Any old and twiggy growth needs removing and a dressing of bone meal encourages newer growths that will bloom next year. Long shoots produced during the summer can be shortened by a third in October to help prevent wind rocking from autumn gales. Better still these growths could be pegged-down about 30cm horizontal to the ground. This restricts the sap flow to the terminal buds allowing the branch to flower equally all along its length. Left vertical usually just means two or three flowering shoots at thee very top.
Some years ago I took cuttings from two roses growing in the remnant of a garden at a nearby derelict Mill. Standing facing the house, the rose to the right of the porchway against the house was an old rambler called ‘Turner’s Crimson’, it has also had various other names in the past, ‘The Engineer’, ‘Shi-Tz-Mei’ or ‘Ten Sisters’ Rose’. This is an interesting rose from an historical point of view. Introduced from Japan in 1878 by a Scottish engineer, it was marketed and sold in quantity by Turner of Britain in 1893.Its origins are a mystery, not quite being a climber, it makes a sprawling lax shrub. It is a parent to countless famous roses like ‘Excelsa’ and ‘Dorothy Perkins’ and an important ancestor of the floribunda roses too. The flowers are bright cherry red, starting paler aging darker coming in sprays of ten or so flowering once at the end of June and into July. Very prone to mildew infestation, I am growing it up a birch tree well away from other roses. It is now superseded by far superior varieties. ‘Crimson Shower’, for example, has a better dusky red colour and greater resistance to disease. Although also once flowering, it’s quite late, toward the end of July, throughout August and there will still be dribs and drabs of flowers in September.
The other rose, to left hand side, in the distant past a flower bed, took far longer to identify. It does not fit into any particular category (damask, hybrid perpetual, hybrid-tea or floribunda etc) it is most probably, judging from especially smooth and small sepals, an early China/Centifolia hybrid. The Rose is ‘Paul Ricault’, bred by Portemer, France in 1845. It still only flowers once, a fortnight either side of mid-summer, but the flowers are fuller, higher centred, than an old European rose could be. The buds open slowly, there are a great many petals to unfurl, dark rich pink at first opening paler but remaining a good strong colour. It is a very plump sumptuous flower with an exceptionally good scent that will hold its fragrance better, as a cut flower, than any other rose I know. It will make a prickly bush 2m x 1.5m. From its China ancestry it inherits slightly week necks to the flowers which make them nod forward gently in a very attractive fashion, it also affords slight protection from heavy rain. Not a healthy rose, so prone to blackspot, and practically defoliated by August.
Probably planted by past inhabitants, the Miss Budds. The reason old roses like these often survive in obscure places is not because they are especially fine garden plants but because they can be propagated easily from suckers and many pass around freely without money changing hands.
© AndrewtheGardener 1/7/17
In My Garden, June.
“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not so pleased to read the description in the catalogue. ‘No good in a bed, but fine up against a wall’”.
One of the most popular roses in our village is called ‘Warm Welcome’, a vibrant semi-double orange climber lots of people grow usually by their front doors, I have it too. A very modern compact patio rose with a complicated ancestry, however the orange colour can only have come from one rose way back in its lineage. Rosa foetida ‘Bicolor’, also known as ‘Austrian Copper’ was introduced to Europe from Persia nearly five hundred years ago. Modern orange roses owe their colour to this original orange rose, also a keenness for blackspot and virtually no scent.
Actually the official name of ‘Warm Welcome’ is CHEWizz, the first part of the name is the breeders prefix (Chris Warner a former Devon resident) and the second is the code given to each rose he breeds. Any new rose bought that was raised in the last forty years will have two names like this on its label. That way CHEWizz can be marketed in different countries under different names whilst still retaining its original reference. A well known rose, TANnacht, is known to everyone in the U.K. as ‘Blue Moon’, however far better known around the world as ‘Mainzer Fastnacht’, ‘Sissi’ and ‘Blue Monday’. The famous rose called ‘Peace’, officially is called ‘Madame A. Meiland’, this is the initial name given by the breeder, but this rose was raised on the eve of the Second World War. Fearing for its safety cuttings were sent to other countries too. Sold as ‘Peace’ in North America, in Italy it became ‘Gioia’ and in Germany ‘Gloria Dei’. Named after Mrs Antoine Meiland, it did not capture the publics’ imagination in the nineteen forties as much as the name ‘Peace’. Recently I found it for sale under three different names in the same nursery!
“Great families of yesterday we show,
And lords, whose parents were the Lord knows who”.
The great and good who decide plant nomenclature have concluded in their wisdom that the correct name for each plant should be the first one ever used, when it was either discovered or bred. That along with genetic testing is why many plants have changed their names in recent times. Thus a genus I learnt when a student as Polygonum (the knotweeds), exists no more, split up into Falopia and Persacaria. The Viburnums once included with honeysuckles in the family Caprifoliaceae are now reclassified in Adoxaceae, with Adoxa a tiny little green herb that flowers along the lane in March. The Aster genus is being demolished; many a favourite Michaelmas daisy has become Xanthisma, Eurybia or Syphyotrichum! Asparagus was in the lily family, now it isn’t. It takes some getting used to; Philadelphus, the mock orange was formally included with the lilacs and likewise called Syringa, I once worked with an employer who would insist on referring to Hosta by the archaic name of Funkia.
After April’s hard frosts the garden repairs itself. Damage made far worse by spring being warm and early. My beautiful shuttle-cock ferns once so virginal and fresh looked like old dish rags, even the oak trees in the valley had all their new growths burnt off. Pieris, Rhododendrons and Camellias have re-grown new shoots which are slightly smaller than normal but the loss of fruit this year won’t be noticed until harvest time.
Garden centres are selling tender plants earlier and earlier, who wants Geraniums at Easter? Significant frosts are still possible in May; misguided people must be losing a lot of plants.
© AndrewtheGardener 1/6/17