Sunday, 31 January 2016

Every picture tells a story

Bolton Percy circa 1980

It’s thirty five years since Bolton Percy churchyard was first opened as a garden under the yellow book Open Garden Scheme. That year the variegated honesty was absolutely magnificent and plants I had potted for sale walked off the stall. Every year since the honesty has returned but has  never been quite so magnificent as that year when I took the above picture as an acetate slide.

A copy of which hangs on our wall together with three other cemetery pictures all of which are professional! I used to trade press interviews for slides for my lectures. If I can secure permission to reproduce them there will be three more stories! Today’s picture is my own and must have been shown in my public lectures at least two hundred times. I have had plenty of practice in telling tales about it!

I wrote about variegated honesty in my post about biennials. The post is long and rambling and very few read it so I will tell you about Lunaria biennis variegata again!
Its a very interesting plant which has the potential to germinate at almost any time of the year if conditions are suitable. A peculiar feature is that if it germinates in none frosty conditions in its first year it grows green without variegation. This is the best way to grow it when it germinates in June, makes a strong first year plant as biennials are supposed to do and then the following Spring it flowers magnificently just like the picture. After the Winter’s cold it flowers with the most wonderful variegation.

On the other hand if it germinates in cold it is immediately variegated, flowers insipidly and is thoroughly confused....

My variegated honesty has been re-seeding itself for the last 35 years. Sometime I help it and scatter it around . I remember one year I spread it over a thin ground cover of ivy and to my surprise it grew through it and almost suppressed it. I got lucky that year!

Geranium macrorrhizum is a strong growing herbaceous perennial ground cover which is much used in both my cemetery gardens. It is the perfect plant to illustrate the principal that if you eliminate all perennial weed vegetative propagules and make sure they are dead then once the ground cover is established you never need weed it again. The leaves go attractive colours in Winter but maintain sufficient cover to suppress any weed seed germination. 

Conversely it is a nightmare if planted into existing couch grass, ground elder or bindweed!

In my lectures I would draw attention to the vulgar combination of orange Euphorbia griffithii and pink geranium.
There is another interesting combination of the drought tolerant thug, Euphorbia robbiae and the yellow bog Iris.


These things happen when you don’t have a plan.


13 comments:

  1. h. onesty is a plant of my childhood, I used to love stripping off the seedpods to reveal the silvery moons underneath.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are always welcome to collect seed if you ever you visit, Sue

      Delete
  2. Interesting, I do love honesty and the picture is beautiful

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great. When is it open again and do you enter it into Yorkshire in Bloom?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It' always open L,it's across the road from the church.. Have a look at the wonderful Millenium window

      Delete
  4. Honesty was one of the first plants which we grew in our very first garden, 1970 to be exact. I didn't know there was a variegated form.
    Geranium macrorrhizum has always been a favourite of ours and does all which you say about it.
    ps-- just came across your much welcome comment on my Anemone post which had found its way into the spam folder in error.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I always make sure I have some Honesty in the garden, the ordinary purple form along with a white flower variegated one and a purple leaved one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also have a short lived perennial honesty and seem to think they have a red tinge

      Delete
    2. Hi Roger, it is a purple leafed Lunaria annual 'Rosemary Verey' with purple flowers.
      You can see the leaf colour if you click on the link to my blog below. If you would like some seeds please email me your address via the contact form on the blog and I will send you some.
      http://ourgarden19.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/murphys-mad-march-garden-tour.html

      Delete
  6. Our local park is now tended by a group of "Friends of" and last year the display of the white form of Honesty was quite something, although I have to say I have never seen a variegated form. I will be interested to see if it has seeded into the adjacent woodland. Interesting read Roger, I am now struggling to get several lots of seed through the rest of the winter which germinated early due to the mild weather. I suppose that this is a sort of parallel to your experience as even if I get them through I don't expect them to do particularly well. I personaly think lack of light is the main influencing factor in these cases.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am surprised so many people have not got to the variegated form. The same offer to Sue applies to your good self.
      I have variegated forms of both the purple and the white flowers

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...