The mass planting of Lilium formosanum var. priceii in the peat walls is eye-catching. Two hundred or more trumpets on short stalks, max height of 300mm, give the area a spectacular look.
The bulbs each send out one spike bearing 2 – 5 blooms, predominantly white but with reddish striations on the outer surface. Held horizontally these fragrant flowers have a narrow perianth tube gradually expanding along the length to an open trumpet.
A native to Taiwan where it is found on grassy banks.
Excelling in its position as dominant member of the tufa mound, the recently planted area in front of the alpine house, Calceolaria integrifolia has flowered for several weeks and looks set to continue. Masses of clear yellow flowers are held in terminal cymes. The lower lip of each individual flower is inflated and resembles a slipper. Hence the name, from the Latin, calceolus: slipper. Originating from Chile where seed was collected from wind pruned shrubs in the coastal area near Conception. A sub shrub here at RBGE and dependant on a free draining root run, which is achieved through the tufa mound, below which a 50:50 mix of quartz sand and soil was used to build up the root zone area.
The delicate long light linear white petals making up the flowers of Gillenia trifoliata contrast with the red calyx. An herbaceous member of the Rosaceae family native to E.N. America. Of sturdy growth, the stems have a rough surface growing to about one metre. Not strong, they gently collapse under the weight of the branching growth and foliage.
Enjoying a dry, sunny border in the alpine area where the rhizomatous roots spread forming a clump of dancing white petals in the slightest of breezes.
The weather during the past ten months has ensured a flowering season like no other. A long autumn to ripen wood followed by a benign winter and warmth through the late spring. One of those plants to benefit is Kalmia latifolia, an evergreen shrub from E.N. America.
Clusters of bright pink flowers terminate the previous season’s growth. This is one for the bees. Tucked flat inside the corolla are ten equally spaced stamens. Each anther is nestled into a tiny recess in the corolla. Turn the flower upside down to fully appreciate these, a jelly mould in miniature. Watching a bee pollinate these flowers is a true Linnaean pastime.
If the anther is ripe and ready to shed its pollen as the bee nudges against the filament the anther is released from its recess. This action flings pollen grains over the bee or towards the stigma of another flower to aid pollination.
Putting an individual flower under a hand lens and gently nudging the filament with a pen nib reveals the pent up tension within the filament and the exploding nature of the anther as it showers pollen grains around the inside of the lens.
Mass planting of the white form of Digitalis purpurea are attracting much attention in the woodland garden. These selected seedlings are sown and grown for one year, transplanted and flower during their second growing season. The flower spikes reach two metres and are covered in white flowers that en mass have the presence to draw the eye from 100 metres distance and more. Once in about them appreciate the humming of bees moving through to extract pollen and nectar from the pendulous tubular flowers.
This season the Enkianthus campanulatus have flowered prolifically. This, a result of a long warm spring preceded by a hot dry summer ripening the wood. The show does not end with the falling of the flowers; the soil around the base of the deciduous multi stemmed shrub is layered in creamy white pearls, the fallen fused petals that make up the corolla. A native to Japan, now a firm addition to woodland gardens throughout Britain.
Take a moment to visually absorb the shades of green on the immature flower buds of Maianthemum racemosum. Growing on the edge of the woodland garden it is another member of the Ruscaceae family, native to North America.
Just about reaching 1 metre in height this herbaceous clump produces upright stems covered in alternate leaves with a terminal panicle of fragrant flowers.
If there was ever a plant that deserved to be in this category it is Polygonatum humile. A delightful herbaceous member of the Ruscaceae family it razzles through the soil forming a tidy compact mass of foliage. Naturally found in open woodland and through grassland in the Himalaya’s and western China. Replicate the conditions in cultivation – semi shade and moist organic soil and this plant will send out rhizomes colonising bare soil. Pendulous, waxy, almost white bell shaped flowers shading to green. At the end silver gilt marking to the tip. These are borne singly in the leaf axil, several to each stem.
The crown of the tree fern, Dicksonia antartica, has rushed into life. Catching the warmth from the sun and surrounded by four walls in an enclosed courtyard it always makes good growth.
The unfurling frond has regularly placed “steps” to resemble a ladder. These will rapidly extend and a complete rosette of new leaves will form especially with this spell of continuing warm weather.
R. orbiculare ssp. orbiculare on left R. vernicosum on right
A walk through the Garden will prove rewarding with so many Rhododendrons in flower. In the copse R. orbiculare ssp. orbiculare and R. vernicosum are full of colour. Both native to SW China where seed was collected and gradually following sowing and germination we now appreciate the full beauty of these wide spreading evergreen shrubs.
An added bonus this year has been the relatively frost free climate. So often a frosty night followed by early bright sun will ruin these blooms.