Here are a few black and white photos I took last weekend. What do you think?
Black and white photos can be so soothing. Not all photographs will work as black and white but I think these do. They are particularly good when there is texture involved and that texture has many shades of grey.
Despite there being lots of works on at the moment to improve the park, which at first glance may seem messy and destructive, Seaton Park, in my opinion, is looking as beautiful as ever. All thanks, of course to the hard work and patience of the gardeners, the local council and The Friends of Seaton Park. I hope these photos do it some justice.
On a recent visit to the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden (The Explorers Garden) in Pitlochry I was lucky enough to see their famed Meconopsis collection pretty much in full bloom. This post was a few weeks in the making as I had a few more photos to add.
Although also know as Blue Poppies, they actually come in many colours. Generally Meconopsis like cool, fairly moist, sheltered conditions and as such I’ve never had much success in my sandy, slightly windy garden. Some are monocarpic – that is they flower once and die, others will form perennial clumps. I should also note that the trusty Welsh Poppy (M. cambrica) also belongs to this group and is an easier one to grow.
Unfortunately I didn’t see too many labels, which, in a genus plagued by naming difficulties was a little disappointing. This could be because they were hidden or because I missed some. I thought I might be able to name some of them post photograph but there’s nay chance!
So you will pretty much have to mostly enjoy photographs of them which is fine because they are so beautiful!
Purple-tinted M. baileyi
Blue-tinted M. baileyi
It’s also worth looking at other parts on the plant in detail. Some have furry stems, others smooth.
Plus how cute are these seed pods with their little waistline belts and furry jackets?
There were a couple which hadn’t yet flowered which is always interesting to know if you’d like to extend the season.
M. ‘Willie Duncan’
M baileyi ‘Amy’s Dream’
And some which are over such as Meconopsis quintuplinervia – how many times do you think I had to check that I had spelt this right?
As usual I like to give some ideas of what to plant them with.
I hope that this inspires you to grow some if you have the right garden or why not have a go and find out. If not get along to the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden in Pitlochry to have a look. Also the National Collection is held by Holehird Gardens near Windermere in the Lake District – now would be an excellent time to see them!
Candelabra Primula and Hosta form a perfect enlightening planting combination for a cool, damp and shady spot in the garden. These two plants together will really lighten up a dark hole. Fend off any slugs which can munch away at these plants using a nature friendly homemade garlic repellent spray.
I have been wanting to visit The Explorer’s Garden (aka The Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden) for many years but have never found myself around Pitlochry to make that visit. It was made better therefore on the day I was able to visit, that the OH wasn’t there to be bored while I walked around. And finally what was ideal was that it was at the time of year when the Meconopsis, for which this garden is well known, were in full bloom. Excellent! Oh and on another note – it was not raining!
Camera at the ready I paid my £4 to enter which I regarded as an excellent price. I was fully expecting to pay over £10. There is not much you’ll get for less than a fiver nowadays.
So off I set with my map…after a brief hello to the cat.
The first section was a lovely little landscaped section planted up with Saxifraga sp. whose frothy white blooms complemented the grey slate coloured organic forms well. In fact there were many lovely planting combinations throughout the garden.
Aquilegia, alchemilla mollis and fern underplanting
Green tree under planting with Aquilegia
There was also some lovely Aquilegia and Alchemilla mollis planting as you walked under the trees towards the main section of the garden.
There was a strong Himalayan theme throughout the garden, despite many regions being represented, probably because many of these plants suit the Scottish environment very well. Most of the Rhododendrons were past but there was one I spotted in full bloom. At first I thought they all had a bout of rust on all the flowers but looking closer I saw that it was part of its design – nice up close but not so much from a distance! Some of the Rhodies had shed their flowers in recent days and formed these wonderful pink carpets underneath. A little reminiscent of Japan perhaps?
Fern with Rhodendron flower carpet
Carpet of Rhodendron flowers
Late flowering Rhododendron in Pitlochry
Dotted around the garden were works of art, all of which I though went well within their chosen settings. I love outdoor art when it works in harmony with the surrounding landscape and planting. I particularly loved the Perspex mobiles with the names of plants and skeleton leaves incorporated into them along with the wonderful pagoda roof.
Mosaic at the Scottish Plant Hunters Garden
Magnolia artwork in the pagoda
Paeonia artwork in the Explorer’s Garden
Blue perspex panels with garden artwork in Pitlochry
I also loved the composting toilet! It was a little space age when you went into it. Next door to that there is a lovely little room which would be amazing for a small wedding. On the day I went they had a photography exhibition from someone who had gone on a recent expedition to the Himalayas. I left feeling that I know that region of the world just a little better and also how magnificent the Meconospsis look in their native environment.
One of many benches in the Explorer’s Garden
Acer leaves in June
Composting toilet at the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden
Close up seat detail
Close up pagoda detail
Speaking of such, they didn’t fail to disappoint! They were in full bloom. I couldn’t get enough of them against the wonderful stone dykes they have built there. The colours are so beautiful. I was however slightly disappointed that there weren’t many labels about (although looking through my photos I realised there was a section I missed, sob). There were a few which I spotted but I would have liked to have been able to see more for my next Plant Focus: Meconopsis. Many more images will be available in that post to come later. I’ll also do another post with more flower images as I have so many! Here is one to whet your appetite….
I’d say the garden is definitely at its best at this time of year or earlier when the Rhododendrons are also out. I’m not sure what would be out after around the end of July. It’s open April-Nov, every day 10am-5pm and well worth a visit if you’re near the area. There’s plenty of information boards around which tell you all about the parts of the world the plant explorers visited to bring back many of the plants we have in our gardens today.
This is my fist ‘Plant Focus’ post. I hope to cover an area each week which is relevant to what is looking good in gardens right now. This will be plus or minus a good few weeks depending on where you are in the country. I was hoping to call it ‘Focus Friday’ but I missed it for last friday and am too excited to post it so….here we go. My first plant is the Hammamelis genus or Witch Hazels.
At this time of year Hammamelis are covered in frost tolerant pale to deep yellow to vibrant orange-red flowers along bare stems and have a strong scent. Hammamelis molis has a stronger scent than Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ but I would argue that the latter is more attractive. The cultivar ‘Pallida’ has an RHS award for garden merit (AGM) due to its wonderful pale glowing yellow blooms and easy growing habit. It looks fantastic against the morning sun.
They can be planted in autumn to winter and look good as a specimen plant or mixed in with other shrubs at the back of a border.
Hammamelis can also look really good against other winter foliage. It looked particularly good against the dramatic lines of a variegated phormium – this could be a great winter planting combination. They also show up quite well with pines and firs as their glowing flowers brings the evergreen foliage to life in an otherwise not-as-exciting-as-summer month.
So once I get round to replanting my garden, I’m going to put one of these in. I’m not sure which variety yet but possibly an orange-red one like Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Diane.’ I think choosing one with scent will be a definite. Check out the RHS page for more information on growing and pruning etc.