Nerines at Exbury

How fortunate that today was a beautiful sunny day, for I was lucky enough to have an invitation to Exbury gardens to see not only their public display of Nerines (which is wonderful), but also to see behind the scenes!

After an introductory talk, we proceeded to view the plants on display, a stunning show!


Nerine flowers range in colour from white, through all shades of pink, to reds, and some of them sparkle as if they’ve been sprinkled with glitter! They focus on the sarniensis hybrids here, which need to be kept frost-free.

Claudine Laabs

Nerine Lepanto

Nerine Enchantress

Nerine Lady Eleanor Keane – a really sparkly one!

There were other South African bulbs on display too.

Haemanthus coccineus

Haemanthus albiflos

Velthemia capensis

Cirtanthus sang. horseshoe

Boophone disticha

Lycoris aurea

We were treated to a short but interesting talk from Margaret Owen, holder of the National Collection of Nerine bowdenii, who had come down from Shropshire!


Then we were off to see the ENORMOUS glasshouses, housing all sorts of fascinating stuff, including hundreds of Nerines, mostly in bud.

A portion of the area! What a sight that’ll be when the buds open!

I particularly like the smaller species Nerines (that won’t surprise anyone who knows me!) This is N. braechiae.


And Nerine humilis…


There were some beautiful Oxalis too, this one Ken Aslet


And I liked (actually, coveted) Oxalis lutea


And so I came home with my small, but fairly costly(!) haul of new Nerines.
Sweet Sixteen:


The excitingly named 5448 28571C!


And 5 species Nerines, of which only N. filifolia and breachiae (shown earlier) are flowering (but I’m excited about ALL of them!)


But I mustn’t leave out my ‘old’ Nerines, only 2 of which are in flower now. N. bowdenii is very late here this year (I know why now!)


And slightly tender N. Stephanie has just opened.


Exbury gardens are situated on the Southern side of the New Forest. The display of Nerines goes on until early November, and they should last well this year, being later than normal. The garden is well worth a visit, and autumn colour should develop soon if we get some cool nights!
I believe that RHS members have free entry from October to spring!!


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Wordless Wednesday – Reflective Moment on the River Test


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Late treats for bees

Yesterday was a glorious autumn day, and the sunshine brought out the bees, hoverflies, butterflies etc to top up with some nectar before the winter arrives.
My Elsholtzia stauntonii has just opened its buds (late this year) and the bees etc were all over it!

It has deliciously fragrant foliage too, and has been fine with me in a sunny, well-drained spot for several years. I cut it back quite hard in spring.
Geranium Buckland Beauty has been flowering all summer, the mat gradually increasing in size, and now mingling with surrounding Sedums. It too attracts lots of bees, though they mostly disappeared when I got my camera!

Sedum Carl is one I like, not only when in flower, but it also looks good when it’s gone over. The lower pic was taken a month or so ago.

This Sedum was in the garden when I arrived, so I don’t have a name for it. The insects aren’t bothered though, and it’s especially welcome this year as I moved it and cut it back in late Spring, so it’s flowering usefully late. And of course, Verbena bonariensis is just great for butterflies.

Asters are great, flowering as they do from late summer, right through the autumn. Some are nearly over now, but some are just coming into flower, so the juice bar can remain open for the insects a bit longer!
Aster Little Carlow is one that’s been flowering for weeks. It got somewhat knocked down by unusually strong winds and heavy rain the other week, but still flowers on!

Aster novae-angliae Herbstschnee (Autumn Snow) is a good white one- I can’t abide white flowers that turn to brown mush, then hang around for ages! – but this one is ok. And Aster Lye End Beauty was planted out earlier this year and has impressed me so far! These are both quite tall, 4-5′.

And last, but definitely not least, are Buddleias! My favourite has to be Dartmoor, with huge panicles of flowers for weeks. This Comma is enjoying a drink!

This year I bought a new dwarf Buddleia Bee Magenta (I also got Bee Sky Blue!) and I’m growing it in a pot. As I purchased it quite late, and very small, I’m impressed with how it’s doing. The other Buddleia is B. lindleyana, which I’ve grown for many years in this South-facing border, and thankfully its survived so far!

Lastly, I’m always pleased to come across frogs in the garden- they don’t seem to eat many slugs, but I just love them!

And yes, that IS a bit of bindweed that I missed- along with quite a few others! The battle continues next year!!

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Wordless Wednesday- Beautifully marked flowers


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Wordless Wednesday from the Cheviots



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Hydrangeas at Hilliers Arboretum

Yesterday I felt the need for a quiet wander in a garden, and being lucky enough to live close to Hilliers Arboretum, I decided to go there for a while. What a fortunate choice! I’ve never been particularly passionate about hydrangeas, but they were at their best today, and my eyes were opened to their stunning beauty.

Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Fraise

Hydrangea paniculata Limelight

Hydrangea macrophylla Parsifal

Hydrangea macrophylla Forever Pink

Hydrangea macrophylla Mousmee

Hydrangea macrophylla Wagtail

Some close-ups – aren’t they pretty?

Hydrangea macrophylla Merveille Sanguine


Hydrangea macrophylla Brugg

Hydrangea paniculata Tardiva

Autumn berries!

There was a lot of other colour in the gardens today, but I’ll write about them another time! I hope you enjoyed the Hydrangeas!!

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Visit to Mottisfont Abbey Rose Garden

Lavandula angustifolia Loddon blue

Earlier this month I visited Mottisfont Abbey (National Trust) for the first time in a couple of years.  As I used to spend a large part of my life there, it was a nostalgic visit in some ways! With two colleagues, I used to grow the herbaceous plants that were sold there.  We grew almost all of the plants that grow in the gardens, apart from the roses, and visitors were always thrilled to find they could buy the plants that they’d seen growing there.

Anyway , there was still lots in flower in the gardens, although peak time for visiting there is June, when the majority of the wonderful National Collection of Old Fashioned Roses are in flower.

You enter the property by crossing the lovely River Test – teeming with large trout as we walked over the bridge, and with fabulous demoiselles flying around too.

There’s a gentle slope up past the house (also open) and the font, and through beautiful parkland with magnificent trees.  Coming into the courtyard area, this tub was looking splendid.  The Salvia, scented Pelargoniums and Verbena rigida were perfectly set off by the silver foliage.

In the courtyard are several beds of roses with herbaceous underplantings, and there are mixed beds along the old brick walls, with roses, clematis, agapanthus, lilies, geraniums…

Below right is Clematis Prince Charles, which flowers for many weeks.

A new feature to me was the cutting bed – to provide flowers for the house.  Sweet peas, astrantias, chrysanthemums, and loads of dahlias!

The cutting bed, and an unusual Dahlia (at least to me!)

The modern shrub rose Golden Wings is here, and my favourite rose, Rosa Francois Dubreuil.  I could never walk past without enjoying its stunning scent, and its velvety red colour too.

Rosa Golden Wings and Rosa Francois Dubreuil

Onwards through the doorway into the main walled garden, and at this time of year, I just love the blue haze of Agapanthus, Perovskia, Nepeta, Aster and Ceanothus that greets you as you enter – probably not what you’d expect in a rose garden!

Central border

Just inside the entrance is Rosa rugosa Rubra, showing both flowers, and its beautiful shiny hips at the moment too. I WISH the flowers were red rather than pink, but you can’t have everything it seems!

Rosa rugosa Rubra, with shiny red hips!

There are a great many Clematis to be found at Mottisfont – of course, they compliment the climbing roses so well, and scramble into the old apple trees to decorate their ancient boughs too.

Rosa Lady Waterlow shares a wall with Clematis Purpurea Plena Elegans

Clematis Abundance and Clematis Emilia Plater

In the furthest walled garden, a triangular shape, the paths are lined with different cultivars of Lavender. It’s lovely to see and hear the bees buzzing away so happily here – in fact, there are always lots of bees and butterflies in the gardens – a good place to get ideas for planting bee-friendly gardens!

Stachys byzantinus Cotton Boll is unusual, and you don’t see the prickly poppy, Argemone grandiflora, too often- perhaps not too surprising, as it’s a painful business harvesting the spiny seed pods!

Stachys byzantinus Cotton Boll and Argemone grandiflora

Don’t these Sempervivums and Sedums look great growing on the tile roof? Last month I was looking at them in the mountains in Switzerland – not quite so high here!

This is Selinum tenuifolium – used to be called S. wallichianum.  You’ll have to forgive me for going on about this but I do love it!  The foliage is fabulous, a bright green, and soft and ferny, and the dark red, strong stems contrast well.  Long-lasting white umbelliferous flowers are good for cutting too!

Selinum wallichianum

One last rose, Compte de Chambord, a Portland Rose dating from 1860, and smelling delicious! Those quartered flowers are just amazing, so many petals, and they’re certainly doing well in this funny old summer we’re having!

Rosa Compte de Chambord

And as you exit from the gardens, you can’t help but be impressed by the stately Cynara cardunculus, with magnificent jagged silvery foliage early in the season, from which rise architectural stems with fascinating purple flowerheads, beloved of the bees. These aren’t the culinary variety, but I don’t think I could bear to cut them even if they were!

Cynara cardunculus

If you’ve never been to Mottisfont Abbey, I hope you’ll pay a visit one day.  The Rose Garden is stunning in June, but there’s much more than roses there!  The grounds are stunning too, glorious parkland with large trees, and the River Test running through, with a riverside walk. Now there’s a winter garden too, and there are events and exhibitions in the house too, although for me, the reason for going is always to see the gardens – but then you’d expect that, wouldn’t you?!!

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