|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.