PotM: Border Phlox – July 2019

One of the stalwarts of the English cottage garden in July is the Border Phlox. Those sturdy, upright stems with their spicy scented flowers have been a favourite since Victorian times. Phlox paniculata was introduced into the UK from the USA in the early 1800s as a garden plant. It originates in the eastern states of North America, growing at the edge of woodland, often on the banks of streams, which indicates their preferred environment: rich but draining soil, in sun or a little light shade.

Over the years the old cultivars have often succumbed to mildew in a close, damp summer, and more seriously, to Phlox Stem and Leaf Eelworm. This manifests itself on the plant as brown, twisted leaves, and sometimes split stems. The only recourse is to dig it up, bag it, and bin it. The eelworm does not affect the roots, so root cuttings can be taken in late winter, with moderate success.

But far better, and more successful, would be to clear a different area of the border in winter (it’s too easy to leave a little bit of stem or leaf in the soil), incorporate lots of organic matter and plant some of the gorgeous new varieties. These are often more mildew-resistant, and providing they are bought from a professional grower they should be clean of eelworm.

Of the new varieties there are one or two that are becoming very popular, and with good reason. Phlox paniculata ‘David’ is a highly-scented, strong-growing variety that is resistant to mildew and its porcelain white heads repeat until the autumn.

Phlox paniculata ‘Rosa Pastell’ carries large loose heads of pale, flesh pink flowers from darker buds until September. It has an especially strong perfume, is vigorous and easy to grow. And Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’ is especially sought after for its ‘blue’ flowers, the colour of a stormy sky at dusk. It marries well with the mauve spikes of Veronicastrum virginicum, and is exceptional with pink forms of Hydrangea macrophylla in a little light shade.

Once the early summer bloomers are over: the Iris sibirica, the early Thalictrums; and the first Geraniums and perennial poppies, have been cut back, then clumps of tall Border Phlox will carry the border through into the autumn, filling the garden with that unique scent, humming with bees, and dancing with butterflies.

Sally Gregson
July 2019

Somerset Wildlife Trust – Open Gardens

With an estimated 124,500 gardens in Somerset, covering 19 square kilometres of the county, the gardens of Somerset have huge potential for nature. So Somerset Wildlife Trust are developing an open gardens programme in order to inspire people to make their own gardens more friendly towards wildlife, as well as to raise funds for the Trust.

Sunday 4th August 2019, 11am – 4pm : Somerset’s Wildlife Garden: Badbury Flower Company

Helen Toon

Badbury Flower Company are opening their flower gardens in aid of Somerset Wildlife Trust. This is a truly inspiring place to visit and everyone will leave wanting to be a Flower Farmer. Ticket sales are kindly being donated to Somerset Wildlife Trust, and proceeds from other stalls are going towards the Isle Abbotts village hall. The garden is wheelchair accessible, however there are grassy paths and uneven ground. Tickets £4.
Badbury Dairy House, Isle Abbotts, TA3 6RS
More information: http://www.badburyflowerco.com

Somerset’s Wildlife Garden: Hillcrest

Garden viewings by prior arrangement between March and September

Charles and Charlotte Sunquist

Hillcrest is a 5-acre garden with so many special places within it that everyone can find a perfect spot to sit and contemplate. The lawn is the most formal part of the garden but is perfect for cartwheels! It has incredible far reaching views overlooking the Somerset Levels. You can see Glastonbury Tor and Burrow Mump but Hillcrest has its own standing stone if you would like something even closer. There is a very large wild flower meadow leading down to an enormous wildlife pond full of dragonflies. There are bee hives to visit too with a bee expert on hand to answer any questions you may have about these essential visitors to our gardens.
Hillcrest, Curload, Stoke St Gregory, Taunton, Somerset, TA3 6LA

More information: 01823 490852 or email chazfix@gmail.com

Somerset’s Wildlife Garden: Broomclose

Garden viewings by prior arrangement between April and September

Nicky Ramsay

A large wildlife-friendly garden with a huge array of plants for pollinators and with views over the Vale of Porlock to the sea.

To arrange a visit, please contact Nicky or David Ramsay. Broomclose, Porlock, Minehead, Somerset TA24 8NU

More information: 01643 862078 or email nickyjramsay@googlemail.com.

Nerine & Amaryllid Society Agapanthus Day 2019


Agapanthus in the garden with Lady Christine Skelmersdale and Bob Brown

A long involvement with Agapanthus, from observing agapanthus in the wild, knowing Lewis Palmer, originator of the hardy Headbourne Hybrid agapanthus to introducing a number of varieties through Broadleigh Bulbs & chairing the recent RHS Agapanthus Trial means that Lady Skelmersdale is particularly well placed to talk about agapanthus in the garden.

As co-owner of Cotswold Garden Flowers, responsible for introducing many hardy & half hardy plants to British gardeners, Bob Brown is a keen observer of trends & developments among many groups of plants, including agapanthus.

Followed by lunch

An afternoon visit to Craig Garth, National Collection of Agapanthus, Green St, Cam Green, Cam, Gloucestershire GL11 5HW

Demonstrations of Agapanthus propagation by Mike Grimshaw, National Collection Holder

Cost £15 (Nerine & Amaryllid Society Members) £22 (non-members) includes talks, lunch, garden entrance, drinks & cake.

Registration/ payment by PayPal / website nerineandamaryllidsociety.co.uk

or cheques payable to the Nerine & Amaryllid Society sent to M.A.J. Allison, 79 Byron Rd, Cheltenham, Glos GL51 7EY

Numbers are limited, early booking is advised. Please state any dietary requirements when making your booking.

Enquiries: Malcolm Allison 01242256349 / majallison2000@yahoo.com

Sunday 7th July – HPS Somerset Summer Plant Fair

Lower Severalls Garden, Crewkerne, TA18 7NX

10am – 4pm

Admission: £3.50 for all HPS members (£4 for non-members)

The garden at Lower Severalls is set in front of a beautiful hamstone 17th century farmhouse, with a formal front garden and borders full of colourful herbaceous perennials and herbs.  It has been owned by the Pring family for 90 years and has featured in Gardens Illustrated.

The stalls at the Summer Plant Fair will be arranged outside the grounds this year, leaving the garden unencumbered for everyone to enjoy.   Mary, who now runs a B&B in the farmhouse, will be providing us with her homemade cakes, tea, coffee and elderflower cordial.

The garden is home to CB Plants, a traditional nursery run by Catherine Bond, specialising in unusual hardy perennials, wild flowers and cottage garden favourites.  All the plants are grown in peat-free compost and many are of benefit to wildlife, being nectar-rich and great for attracting pollinating insects.

This promises to be a great day out, so come and pick up a treasure or two.  

Nurseries attending will include:

  • Mill Cottage Plants
  • Hardy Way Plants
  • In Clover
  • MAJ Allison Plants
  • Blooming Hill Plants
  • Shady Plants
  • Pickett Lane Nursery
  • Fox Plants
  • Phoenix Plants
  • Elworthy Plants
  • Barracott Plants
  • CB Plants

In addition we have two non-plant tables:

  • Andrew Tolman (Arthur & Strange)
  • Somerset Wild life Trust.

Plant of the Month: Rosa Madame Alfred Carrière – 1879

That roses are all about opulence, indulgence, hedonism, I never found out until my thirties. My early experiences of the stiff, inelegant, synthetic modern roses found them wanting. It was not until I saw Peter Beales’ stand at Chelsea one year that I discovered their romance: the colours, the perfume, their sheer joie-de-vivre.

During the late Victorian era thousands of roses were bred, introduced, and vanished again. Occasionally the odd survivor lives on unrecognised in an old garden, its name long forgotten. That some are still available in rose nurseries often owes much to their tenacity and their willingness to put up with less than ideal conditions. Or perhaps to their exotic French name, and their exceptional scent.

When Vita Sackville West planted roses at Sissinghurst, she was inspired by the legend of the Sleeping Beauty and the old tudor Tower. She loved the story of the gallant prince who cut swathes of roses to climb the tower and waken the princess with a kiss. But the stiff hybrid teas and floribundas of the early ‘30s did not seem to fit the bill.

So she searched in small old nurseries for those unfashionable roses that had all but disappeared by the turn of the 20th century and discovered one or two languishing in a corner, unnamed and unloved. She identified them and commissioned more from the nurserymen.

Word of her quest spread and quite soon she was filling her new Rose Garden with more of the glorious ‘old’ roses. She loved their names, their perfume, and, controversially, their single-flowering. She would say that no-one expected, or wanted, their daffodils to flower out of season. So it should be with roses.

One of her favourites, among many, was Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’. She climbs, vigorously, at least to the eaves, even on a north-facing wall. Her flowers are loose and palest flesh pink, with an exquisite true-rose perfume. The foliage is apple-green, and scented of apples too, and the flowering starts in June and continues until the autumn. La Madame seems to combine all the very best attributes of any rose of any age. She really is a grand ‘old’ trooper.

Sally Gregson

Members Open Garden : Kilmington Nr Axminster

Our member Judith Chapman will be opening her garden this Sunday 16th June for Hospicare.

The 3+ acre garden has mature trees, a rose garden, orchids in a developing wild flower area in mid/late June, mixed borders , two ponds. A major feature is a bog garden which has recently been extended and newly planted; this uses natural springs in the garden. There are shrubberies, mixed borders, a small vegetable garden and orchard.
Tea, coffee and cake are available. Entrance is by donation to Hospiscare.
Address: Breach, Shute Road, Kilmington, near Axminster, EX13 7 ST

Lower Severalls Plant Fair: Catering Van & Volunteers Needed

At the Lower Severalls Plant Fair on July 7th will be a food truck from O-Jas. O-Jas provide delicious Vegan and Vegetarian options.

The main Chef at o-jas is Mark who has a wealth of experience in fruit, vegetables and wholefoods. From his early days in Spitalfields Market he progressed to the role of Chef in a leading vegetarian café in Sheffield and a popular vegan restaurant in Nottingham. As well as cooking he has also run backstage bars at Glastonbury Festival.

Meanwhile we need volunteers to help Sally run the event. If you can spare some time in return for free entry to the garden and fair, please reply to this email.