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Salutations from SLGS to Steve Edney – and vice versa

For this week’s meeting, the first of our autumn season, we welcome Steve Edney, whose talk is entitled

Succession Planting – a case study of the long border at Salutation

Steve Edney is Head Gardener at The Salutation, Sandwich, Kent. Set within the glorious medieval town of Sandwich, nestled on the banks of the River Stour, The Salutation Gardens are a plant lover’s paradise. Designed in 1912 by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, The Salutation, now a charming hotel and restaurant, is a true Lutyens masterpiece and the first 20th Century building to be granted Grade I listing.

Surrounding it, the 3.7-acre gardens, also designed by Lutyens, are divided into a series of symmetrical “rooms”, each with a different purpose, gathered around a unifying theme. The effect is one of endlessly unfolding space, with wonderful surprises presented around each corner. The planting style is a dynamic infusion of old and new. The gardens reveal themselves sequentially through the seasons, and are constantly developing as long-term projects and drawing-board concepts come dramatically to life.

This plant-driven design incorporates an eclectic mix of heirloom, rare and drought-tolerant plants used thoughtfully to create longer seasons of interest. Careful consideration is given to the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the gardens’ easterly location, soil type, rainfall and protection from wind behind 4 acres of walls.

Steve Edney

Head Gardener Steve Edney has been perfecting his art for 25 years. After studying at Hadlow College and Merrist Wood, he spent several years as a highly respected and regularly awarded private garden designer. In 2006, he joined The Salutation to helm its huge restoration project. A decade later, the gardens are recognised as amongst the finest in the country.

Steeped in the practical art of gardening, Steve uses direct observation to supplement his technical skills as a grower, breeder, horticulturist and arboriculturist. His drive for creativity and experimentation ensure the scope of his expertise continues to encompass new horizons.

He is a member of both the RHS Herbaceous Committee and its plant trial forum. He has chaired the RHS round table for Zinnia, and is working in conjunction with Fleuroselect in Europe. He contributes to numerous professional publications, and is a regular on the award-winning “Sunday Gardening” show on BBC Radio Kent. At the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Steve’s collaboration with Cayeux Iris received a Gold Medal in the floral marquee, something they hope to replicate in 2017.

Poster

NB if you can print out and display a poster for this event (despite the short notice) please do so: SLGS poster Steve Edney

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Rutland HPS Plant Fair

The 2017 HPS Rutland Group Plant Fair

will be held on
Sunday May 28th
10-30am until 3-00pm

Fox Cottage, Cottesmore Road, Ashwell (near Oakham), LE15 7LJ
Admission is £2.00, accompanied children free
Refreshments will be available. Open to the public, free car parking

Full details including a map of the location are available on their website

The following stalls have booked for 2017

Bridge Farm Plants
Shade tolerant plants, Umbels, Irises, Hardy Geraniums,
Aconitums, Unusual Tender Perennials, Seasonal Bulbs

Diane Cole Hardy Plants
General herbaceous

Frondescence
Hostas, Ferns, and Perennials

Gardenwise
General Herbaceous

Linda Scott Hardy Plants
Hardy Geraniums, range of hardy perennials

M & J Perennials
Unusual Hardy Perennials, including a large range of registered Hemerocallis

Monksilver Nursery
Bulbs, unusual plants, Variegated plants

Piecemeal Plants
Wide range of rare and unusual herbaceous perennials,
Small collection of flowering bulbs, half-hardy and tender plants

Puddle Plants
Hardy Plants, Shrubs

Rosie Bose
Rare and unusual herbaceous perennials

Small Beauties (Uppingham)
Sempervivums, Saxifragas, Sedums, planted gardens

Smart Plants
Alpines Herbaceous, Auriculas, Shrubs, Shade loving plants

S & N Plants
Alpines, Herbaceous perennials.

Stamford Exotics
Exotics, Alpines

Swines Meadow Farm Nursery
Rare unusual Ferns, Hostas, shrubs, bamboos

Whispering Trees
Herbaceous perennials, Paeony, Lilies

Danger! Aquilegia downy mildew alert

During the last couple of weeks I have spent many many backbreaking hours spread over several heartbreaking days digging up and burning every aquilegia (one of my favourite cottage garden plants at this time of year), just as they were coming into flower in my garden. Why? It had gradually dawned on me that they had aquilegia downy mildew.

Aquilegia with aquilegia downy mildew

Aquilegia with aquilegia downy mildew

Aquilegia leaf with aquilegia downy mildew

At first I had thought I was getting some interesting new seedlings; small silvery-leaved plants were appearing. Then I spotted some rather more lime-green or golden plants, and some with rather nice, subtle variegation. As I have never had variegated aquilegia cultivars in the garden before I realised it was too much of a coincidence that this should all be happening at once and thought back to a report from a couple of years back of a new disease outbreak wiping out the National Plant Collection of Aquilegia. I looked through their website and there were photographs resembling all my “interesting new seedlings”: actually showing various stages of the disease.

Aquilegia leaves with downy mildewThen the silver plants started to twist and collapse, and some variegated ones, on closer inspection, were a bit more ugly and extreme, especially the lowest rosette of leaves. There was also a lot of purple mottling.

Other plants just didn’t look quite right: the leaves were narrower and more wedge-shaped than usual. Then the flowers, when they started to appear, often looked rather bleached at the tips of the petals and occasionally twisted or deformed. Sadly, the plants have all had to go, even the few that at first I had thought looked relatively healthy.

Although related to other downy mildews, this horrible disease seems to be specific to aquilegias (columbines, granny’s bonnets) and has only been identified in the last few years. Nobody knows where it has come from: it doesn’t seem to have been imported from abroad (unlike so many new pests and diseases). But it has spread around the country like wildfire. It seems there is no effective chemical control: systemic fungicides are not recommended by the RHS advice pages. Burning, or deep burial in the vegetable plot are their only suggested options (but I would have thought that the danger of accidentally unearthing the festering corpses would be too great in the latter case).

Judging by the number of plants that I had to dig up, the disease had been with me for some time (one year at least, probably two), and now that I know the symptoms I have started to notice it in many other places. Most notably a well-known Grantham DIY emporium, which was selling packs of clearly diseased plants (but member of staff took two packs, immediately looked up the RHS page on his smartphone and promised to report the problem to the head buyer), and a Grantham garden centre (where the staff member seemed vaguely interested but hadn’t bothered to remove their spectacularly diseased display plant from show a couple of hours later).

Aquilegias with downy mildew in DIY outlet Aquilegias with downy mildew in DIY outlet

I suspect this is the problem: the small plants on sale at the DIY outlet must already have had the disease when they were sent out from the nursery that raised them. The large plant at the garden centre was probably also sent out from a central supplier. It only takes one or two such suppliers to send out sickly plants to chains of retailers and independent outlets around the country to spread a disease in no time. And even though this downy mildew is specific to aquilegias, I suspect that its resting spores, which are released into the soil (and hence the wider environment) from the rotting leaves, can probably be passed around in pots of other plants that have stood near to the infected aquilegias. I only hope I’m not guilty of innocently spreading it to any other gardens that I have visited or donated plants to before realising that I had the disease here.

Do I sound paranoid? I am. My wife has just come home from visiting a friend a couple of villages away, who had just said to her, as she left, “Isn’t it dry? Look at my aquilegias!” She broke the news as gently as she could…

(PS It wasn’t us who had passed on the mildew to them! We haven’t been to their garden, nor they to ours, in the last couple of years at least.)

An apology

I must apologise for not having kept the website up to date this year. The site is a WordPress blog. WordPress have updated their software and advise that all users should now be upgrading to the latest version of the software, which sounds simple enough. But they also warn that there is a danger that in doing so, the data on an existing blog or website may be lost. Therefore any existing websites or blogs should be backed up before the new software is installed. I’m afraid that I haven’t had time to embark upon this long and involved process for the several WordPress sites that I currently run, for various personal reasons too complicated to explain here.

I would also like to modernise the SLGS site, giving it a new look to make it more flexible and mobile phone user-friendly, and need to choose a new “theme” for that purpose. When I have some time to upgrade the software I also hope I will be able to try out a different look or two and see what works best.

Cactus & succulent sale – a date for your diary

The Spalding Branch of the British Cactus & Succulent Society is holding a
Cactus & Succulent Plant Sale
on Saturday 22nd April 2017, 10am – 3pm
at Holbeach Community Centre, Fishpond Lane, Holbeach, Lincs, PE12 7DE

Sales by 15 leading cactus nurseries and growers (see below). Free admission. Ample free parking.

Refreshments available all day. For full details visit www.spalding.bcss.org.uk (Charity Number: 290786)

  • Ralph Northcott, Cactus Shop Winkleigh, Devon
  • Bryan and Linda Goodey, Southfield Nurseries Bourne, Lincs
  • Shaun Biggadyke King’s Lynn, Norfolk
  • Rob Stevenson Caistor, Lincs
  • Lily Cartier and Philip Greswell Spalding, Lincs
  • Derek Bowdery, Eau Brink Cacti King’s Lynn, Norfolk
  • Stuart Riley, Plantlife Nursery Eastbourne, East Sussex
  • Richard and Wendy Edginton, Seedling Cacti Norwich, Norfolk
  • Doug Sizmur, Kent Cacti Orpington, Kent
  • Gordon and Joan Foster, Oak Dene Nurseries Barnsley, South Yorkshire
  • Keith Larkin, Keith’s Cactus Books Market Harborough, Leics
  • David Neville Southampton, Hants
  • Tony Irons Portishead, Somerset
  • Graham Charles Stamford, Lincs
  • Cliff Thompson Waterlooville, Hants

click here for poster

Our programme for 2017

Sharron has put together another exciting programme for next year (despite a bit of input from other members of the committee, and some discussion of titles of talks, it’s basically Sharron, as programme secretary, who finalises almost all of the details every year).

It ranges from local garden designer Ken Rawson’s personal reminiscences of one of last century’s greatest British plantsmen, Christopher Lloyd, through a talk on salvias, arguably the up-and-coming genus for vibrant high- and late-summer colour, by Huntingdon nurserywoman Janet Buist of Pennycross Plants, to well-known broadcaster, garden designer and writer Bunny Guinness on “Transforming Your Garden”. Plus Manchester plantsman Kevin Pratt, who’s a specialist in fritillarias and Stachyurus amongst other things, and Steve Edney, head gardener at The Salutation, an historic garden originally laid out by Edwin Lutyens in Sandwich, Kent, who will be discussing the successional planting in that garden’s spectacular Long Border.

We also have a special evening members’ garden visit to our SLGS members Rob and Claire Bailey-Scott’s lovely garden at Gosberton, which I featured in an earlier posting.

Photo: © Cris Toala Olivares

Photo: © Cris Toala Olivares

But most exciting is the fact that, for the first time in some years, SLGS are venturing abroad. Tempted by tantalising reports of the Open Gardens weekend in Amsterdam, which includes many private gardens not visible from the street and never open to the public at any other time, Sharron has organised a long weekend coach trip (16–19th June) at a very reasonable price, with a possible optional extra excursion to Piet Oudolf’s own garden, and other details to be arranged.

  • To download a pdf of the detailed programme, along with a tear-off slip to join or re-join the society, click this link.

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Wildlife gardening survey

Bryony Baxter, a student at Newcastle University, is currently distributing a questionnaire helping her BSc study of wildlife gardening. Her email is below.

It would greatly help Bryony if you could fill in her online questionnaire. It should take only a few minutes, and there are some interesting questions. Just click on the link below.

And if you belong to another gardening, wildlife or natural history society and think some of your fellow members might be interested, please pass on the details to them, too.

In future I hope to be able to bring you a summary of Bryony’s findings.

I am a student at Newcastle University studying Bsc Countryside Management and for my dissertation I am looking at how wildlife gardening is contributing to biodiversity in South East England.*

I am inviting participants from gardening clubs, horticultural societies and environmental groups in South East counties to complete a questionnaire about gardening behaviours and wondered whether you could distribute this questionnaire to your members or people who would be interested?

It is an online questionnaire with a total of 23 questions and I would really appreciate all gardening enthusiasts spending approximately 10 minutes to complete it. Results shall remain anonymous and confidential.

Here is the survey URL: https://www.esurveycreator.com/s/0b6c9d3

*Although Bryony’s research was originally targeted at Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, West Sussex, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey, she has now had responses from all over England, so she’s happy for anyone to fill it in.

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