Garden Visit: Parham Hall, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Written by Mavis Smith. Posted in Events Past

8th September

 
  

Photos by Chris Davies

This was a garden visit full of surprises, as we progressed through the garden it just got better and better.

At first, parking beside of a large sandstone house, I thought ‘This is strange, where is the grand entrance’.  This was soon explained by our hostess. The property was inherited by Sue and Adam Paul in 1972. Sue explained that less than half of the original Hall remained, the front half having been demolished many years ago. The boundary and foundations of the larger hall were clearly visible after this very hot dry summer, and the previous formal garden was no longer adjacent to the remaining house.

 Sue and Paul’s initial problems were to make the remaining ‘back end’ of the original hall into a respectable house and to redesign the garden area. The reconfigured house was surrounded by extensive lawns, some close cropped, others were wild areas. It was almost parkland with many splendid ancient trees, all looking in good health and with beautiful shapes. Obviously, some have had to be removed and there are now many new plantings to take their place. Around the house there are now borders and a terraced area. A series of island beds have been planted some distance from the house, mainly bergenias, euphorbias and stipa gigantea. A Lutyens bench was surrounded by beautiful pink double cosmos. Many of us vowed to grow more cosmos next year.

We wended our way through the trees and came to a door in a brick wall. Inside, one could immediately appreciate the beautifully planted walled garden. The entire area of around ¾ acre was surrounded by a lovely mellow red brick crinkle crankle wall, apart from one area that was open to a pond.

At the centre was a large medlar with a circular bench around its base. From here paths radiated out to divide the garden into four quadrants. The central path was a covered arch of vines and roses. At right angle to this the paths were lined with apple and pear cordons. One half of the garden consisted of a grassed orchard of apple, plum and pear trees. The other half was devoted to vegetables, soft fruit and flowers for cutting. Many varieties of vegetables are grown including jet-black tomatoes, cape gooseberries and a very attractive row of the brown flowered Amaranthus cruentus. The concave areas of the walls were planted with trained fruit trees – pears, figs, cherries, peaches, kiwi and even a pomegranate.

A range glasshouse along the south wall housed grapevines and a selection of peppers. In the south wall another door led into a frame yard. The frames were mainly empty at this time of the year. A ‘bothy’ backed onto the south wall, where all the tools were still housed, many of them antique and well oiled, there were racks of clay pots, an old soil steriliser and raffia for tying. On the opposite wall was a glasshouse below ground level, reminiscent of a pineapple pit, but now so useful for storing plants needing winter protection.

Yet another entrance in the east wall led to another small walled area planted with herbs around the wall with a formal diamond design central area. One final door led into a converted byre where there was tea, coffee and a wonderful spread of cakes and sandwiches. I had been so interested in the garden that I had forgotten that refreshments were included in the visit!

Mavis Smith

Plant to be named after Len Speller? - Adrian Bloom, Bressingham Gardens

Written by Peter Lyle. Posted in News

 
  

Plant given to Adrian by Len, pictured at Foggy Bottom

Len worked as a volunteer at Foggy Bottom for a number of years and was a valued member of the gardening team. He was a knowledgeable plantsman and as we all know had an enthusiasm for all plants, but particularly for Japanese maples, of which he had a considerable collection at his home in Wymondham. 

Len brought a plant of a seedling Lamium he had found in his garden three or four years ago and it was planted up in Foggy Bottom to see how it would perform and if it was different to others on the market. It turned out to be a good ground cover with attractive foliage and very free-flowering in spring with pale pink flowers. Sadly Len died after an operation on 23rd December 2016 and as a contributor to Foggy Bottom, and of course as a  valued member of the Hardy Plant Society, it would seem fitting to name this plant Lamium ‘Len Speller’. There are plans to have plants available from spring 2019 in the Bressingham Gardens catalogue but in the short term it needs to be verified that this is indeed a cultivar that is different to others presently available to the public. There is nothing quite like its variegation with the combination of flowers in existing cultivars (on a sunny spring morning the flowers look much lighter than the soft pink they exhibit during most of the flowering period) but it would be good if other members of the society were able to also look into this question of identity. There appears to be no National Collection of Lamiums, but if any HPS member is interested in researching this or making any comments with regards to its uniqueness, please could they send their findings to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as soon as possible. 

As an addenda - HPS members who knew Len might be interested to know that several Japanese maples from Len’s collection were purchased last year and at least one of them will be planted in the new Japanese-style garden at Bressingham before its opening in 2019. 

 

Garden Visit: Batteleys Cottage, Wortham, Suffolk

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

   

11th August 2018

 Members were welcomed to the garden by the owners, Linda and Andy Simpson, on a bright, warm day, just after the ‘changeable’ weather had set in, following the weeks of drought.

Linda said that she had a special announcement to make, and proceeded to explain that, after having moved there in 2010, and spent the subsequent years clearing and developing the garden, they had begun to open, and raise funds for the NGS. She had waited to see how many of us would turn up and pay the entry fee, and was delighted to tell us that our contribution had taken their fund-raising to over £10,000.

About 30 members joined the visit. From the first, there were beautiful little groups of plants, adjacent to the front door, and every little corner and nook. As we rounded the house, a charming typical Suffolk cottage, but with the individual character that develops over time, the view expanded across a lawn, with a central bed, notably stocked with pink and white cleome, and a metal sculpture.

   

From the lawn, surrounded by interesting plantings of shrubs and perennials, a number of pathways disappeared into the surroundings, although the eye was taken round the periphery by regular splashes of Orange flowers, in pots, set on the edge of the borders.

Everywhere, as we wandered between the plants, there were places to sit and look at a peaceful  view, or the pond, or noisy bird-feeders. Linda and Andy had placed a large pot of Zantedeschia aetheopica in the pond. This was actually floating, although the pot was submerged, and caused a few of us to doubt the evidence of our own eyes, as we saw it gently drifting across the pond, presumably prompted by goldfish nibbling around the roots.

  

Those of us who like variegated plants were attracted by a clump of Lysimachia clethroides ‘Geisha’, with its pretty, crooked spikes of white flowers and pale cream variegated leaves, and also a bright crimson Phlox, with variegated leaves, P. paniculata ‘ Mary Christine’, with much stronger colour in the flowers than the better-known P.’Norah Leigh’. Both the Lysimachia and the Phlox were growing next to plain green versions of the same plant. Linda owned up that the plain ones were reversion from the variegated, but she had separated the clumps, and they made an interesting contrast with each other. There was also a smart clump of a very pale-leaved variegated persicaria, providing lovely contrast to the green growth nearby.

     

    

The little pathways led to varied parts of the garden, several in shaded areas, perhaps with an atmospheric, mauve clematis, draped through the trunk of a tree, or a Lutyens-style seat, with clumps of early-flowering cyclamen, in pink or white, blooming against the shiny, black leaves of Liriope nigrescens. There were hostas and ferns in the shade, and heliopsis and echinacea in the sun. A glint of sun on the water picked out a stream, with the sound of a cascade, behind another well-placed seat, chosen by a couple of discerning members to enjoy their refreshments.

        

In many places there were surprising little artefacts, all adding to the sense, as one member put it, that this was very much a personal garden.

Linda and Andy had individual vegetable gardens, and the piles of logs, both old and overgrown, providing homes for small creatures and insects, and the smart, fresh ones, no doubt storing fuel for the Winter, added to the individuality of the garden.

      

To complete our visit, there was a large table and chairs, shaded by an umbrella, on the lawn, and another large table near the house, where members could enjoy their tea and choice of delicious cakes and reflect on the lovely day and well-planned garden stocked with interesting plants, of which, Linda knew nearly all the names.

        

Chris Davies

Norfolk and Suffolk Group HPS Summer Social 2018

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

28th July 2018

Sue Bulbrook had been persuaded to host the Summer Social after having held her daughter’s wedding reception in their beautiful garden, last Summer.

Since this year started with a long period of snow, excessively low temperatures, then a great deal of rain, Sue was already struggling before the 50+ days of drought immediately preceding the event.

The first rain, several hours of it, occurred on the day before, and it was slightly showery while we were setting up on the morning. However, the sun shone, the caterer  arrived and members were welcomed with a glass of wine or home-made elderflower ( from Sue’s own shrubs), or other cordial before roaming round the garden and meeting other members.

We had provided members with name-badges, requested by a fairly new member, and useful to many of us who remember faces, but not names, unless, of course, they are plant names.

Sue had been complaining bitterly that her garden was not as colourful as she would have liked, - and it certainly wasn’t as orange as it was two years ago when we were last there,-  due to the vagaries of the weather. Without that background knowledge, the garden was still interesting in its layout and design, the plant associations and colour-schemes, as well as the textural relationships between foliage, stonework, and  containers.

The stepped terrace, directly outside the back of the house, with groups of tables and chairs, provided vantage points for members to admire the immediate groups of colourful and varied plants in pots, and the collection of Japanese Acers and others on a tiered stand in a shady corner. From there, we could glimpse inviting pathways between the shrubs and flower beds to hidden glades beyond.

There were a number of large trees in the garden, providing shade, and green lawns - an unusual sight for many of us just now. A degree of excitement was caused by a sudden cracking sound when a large branch of an old Acacia tree broke and swung, hinged by an edge, fortunately not close to anyone, but giving Judy Wilson a near heart-attack.

The lunch, of delicate canapés was enjoyed by all, but perhaps mostly by those who got there first!

We had a plant stall, for which some members brought fresh plants. Other than that, they were the ones being nurtured ( or otherwise) by Linda and me, and we were very grateful to members who bought them, helping us to fund-raise for the Group.

A newish member brought some pots of seedling Lapeirousia, also known as Anomotheca, and apparently correctly known as Freesia laxa, ( but don’t quote me there!). Several members examined them in perplexed interest. I was rash enough to buy some. ( See separate note).

After lunch, Linda called the raffle, for which we had plenty of donated prizes, all of which, I trust, went to good homes.

There was then time for a final scan of Sue’s interesting plants, a brief wander, and, for several members, an excursion into Sue’s husband, Lee’s,  mystical Workshop, where he, with the mind of engineering scientist, worthy of the title of  ‘inventor,’ showed some of his projects and equipment.

Starving members, and their passengers, came round to my garden for a cuppa and a cheese roll before facing the drive home.

The general feeling was that Sue’s garden was better than anybody had a right to hope for and a good day was had by all.

Since numbers of members attending were half what they have been in recent years, the committee would be interested in changing the format to suit more members.

Did you consider it too expensive?

Was it too soon to visit the same garden again?

There was a suggestion that an evening meeting, perhaps later in the Summer, would attract more members. An earlier one would suit, if John and Brenda were organising the holiday in another month, than June, 

if a lot more members were prepared to contribute food, it would be feasible to return to our old ways, but for just the committee to do it is too much work, we don’t get to take part in the event, and we can’t produce enough food, given reasonable expenditure of our voluntary time. 

Tell us what you think.

Chris Davies.

 

               

                                  

 

Lapeirousia laxa

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in News

HPS member, Geoff Hinchliffe, donated some pots of seedlings of this plant, also known as Anomotheca, and Freesia laxa to our plant stall at the Summer Social 2018. Other members showed no signs of knowing the plants, although I believe that Sally Smith might grow them.

At present, I still have 5 of Geoff’s pots of these, @ £2/ pot of about 6 seedlings.

Geoff’s source describes them as follows:-“From a flat fan of tiny iris-like leaves arise thin stems carrying large, brilliant carmine, star-shaped flowers.These lovely flowers are very long lived and hardy in a sheltered spot and I a well-drained rockery they will self-seed and make fabulous drifts.”  

They will develop corms. The foliage grows to about 8”. They need sun, good drainage and shelter from Winter wet and cold.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED CONTACT ME:- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01362 668784

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