Yorkshire Arboretum

An Autumn visit – 20th October

by Sue Gray

On a gloriously sunny, balmy, afternoon today, I was privileged to visit the Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howard.  There are big changes afoot with a new building under construction which will accommodate the UK’s first purpose built ‘Tree Health Centre’ and, like many other places, due to Covid19, the Arboretum was closed for a period earlier in the year but it is now making up for lost time with pre-booked visitors enjoying the glorious Autumn colours.

If you have never visited the Arboretum, now and in the coming weeks is a wonderful time to do so; the café is open from 11am serving delicious drinks and light meals.

Below are a few images of the sights that await you.

And here are some of the individual plants that caught my eye

The aptly named Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’
Prunus incisa – the Fuji Cherry

Sorbus ulleungensis ‘Olympic Flame’
Carya tomentosa

Sue Gray

October 20th, 2020

Plant Forum – October

We missed our Plant Forum in August, like so many other events in this year of Covid-19, so it is proposed that we have some virtual ones! For October, please send your nominations, suitably illustrated, for the best Autumn colour, be it tree, shrub or perennial to brian.hackett7@icloud.com

Sue Gray has started the ball rolling with her nomination for Euonymus alatus – the Burning Bush

Euonymus alatus

Acers are always reliable purveyors of autumn colour, but this one in the Hackett garden, is better known for its winter bark – Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’

Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ – the Coral-bark maple

Pat Gore says: “What a difficult choice! I have some lovely Acers, a Rhys typhina dissecta, a butter yellow Morus nigra – all of which give a great autumnal display.

However, I would like to nominate Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ as providing my favourite Autumn colour. It starts to turn in late Summer and goes an increasingly dark wine red over the succeeding months. It also has a second small flush of flowers which look lovely against the dark foliage. The leaves are held until late Autumn and I would not expect them to fall until mid- late November.

I have a bird’s eye view of it when I open my bedroom curtains every morning so it gives me a lot of pleasure throughout much of the year.”

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’

Terry Benton of Westbury, Wiltshire was a regular contributor to our lockdown gallery. Here’s his nomination: “The choice from my garden is Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’. It’s not an unusual plant but the flowers provide a strong colour among the garden’s fading hues. I find them still standing proud and blooming long after the leaves have fallen from the trees.”

Hesperantha coccinea’Major’

Ann Fritchley offers the Crimson Bromeliad – Fascicularia bicolor.  “Unfortunately”, she says, “the pale blue flowers in the centre have gone over”. Still pretty exotic for October!

Fascicularia bicolor

Judith Ladley gives us an old and trusted favourite. “I would have sent a picture of Parthenocissus tricuspidata which has been superb but is now nearly finished.  Therefore I nominate Verbena bonariensis which self-seeds freely in my gravelled area.  In the background is Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’ which has done very well this year.  I cut it back in Spring.

Verbena bonariensis

Judith Edmonds picks an Acer: “Here’s my vote for autumn colour: Acer Palmatum ‘Chitose-yama’. Seen at the Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park, Grewelthorpe, last week. As well as the dramatic colour, I thought the leaves were also a very beautiful shape. It’s definitely on my wish list now! Having checked it out on the RHS website I see it has an AGM and the leaf colour earlier in the year looks good too.”

Acer palmatum ‘Chitose-yama’

Kate van Heel’s nomination is Polypodium cambricum ‘Richard Kayse’. She says “It’s a winter growing fern that is a fabulous lime green at the moment”

Polypodium cambricum ‘Richard Kayse’

Katherine Hill offers two contrasting takes on autumn colour

Holehird Gardens

An Autumn visit – 16th October

by Pat Hunter

This is a garden I regularly visited up to my teenage years as my Mother loved a visit and the May plant sale was a definite date on the calendar.

The view over Windermere

The setting is superb, a sloping site looking down to Lake Windermere and across to the Lakeland Hills; put the Autumn tree colours in the foreground and the views are stunning.

Distant fells

A visit usually starts by going into the walled garden next to the car park. This is full of Autumn classics, Rudbekias, Dahlias, Hesperantha, Leucanthemella serotina, Symphyotricums in abundance as the herbaceous perennials.

The walled garden

Display house – succulents

There is a display greenhouse now against one wall, this has not been there that long in the great scheme of things. It contained a cacti/succulent display, a beautiful Lapageria rosea on the back wall and an A4 piece on the problems that the Lakeland horticultural society has had with whitefly control in the display house and how they have changed the plants and the whitefly regimes to cope.

Lapageria rosea

After the walled garden, a walk through the alpine and Tufa houses to the superb limestone rockery area. I couldn’t help but take some pictures of superb Saxifraga fortunei, as Sue Gray had been talking about these the night before.

The rock garden

The Ponds

After a couple of circuits of this side of the garden, it was down past the ponds to the woodland walk, which takes you down the drive to the Lakeland collection of Hydrangeas.

The Hydrangea Collection

This is the best time to visit. I was blown away by the superb row of Hydrangea paniculata.

Hydrangea paniculata
Hydrangea involucrata ‘Hortensis’

And finally, the seat – how many seats do you see where the arms are snakes, not just any snakes but snakes with ‘pucker up’ lips!!!!

Pat Hunter

October 16th, 2020

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, we’re going to the….

Gardening in the 21st Century – a zoom talk by Timothy Walker

a review by Carine Carson

Well, if it was a Monday or Tuesday and one of my ‘Grandma Carine’ days, it would be to the moon!  However, in this instance it is to the bijou study in my bijou bungalow in Wetherby to hear Timothy Walker, our first Zoom speaker for WYHPS during this time of the Covid pandemic and various social distancing and lockdown measures.

Before I get to Tim’s talk it seems appropriate to say something briefly about Zoom.  I think that, in common with the rest of the population, almost none of us had heard of Zoom before lockdown 2020.However, thanks to the younger members of our families wanting to maintain visual contact and setting up family quizzes etc, we were forced to take the plunge.  It has been a steep learning curve for us all, but, as with the other evening, people are prepared to have a go and those of us who are just one step ahead are happy to chip in with the odd bit of knowledge we have. I feel we all managed incredibly well and I’m confident we will soon be telling other members how straightforward it is to negotiate zoom.

I also thought that Zoom worked really well in the context of a WYHPS evening meeting.  No one had to negotiate the Leeds traffic, come out in the cold and dark (if that is your issue) and some members even managed to make the whole event even more enjoyable with their favourite tipple to hand!  I for one enjoyed being able to sit at the desk in my study and make notes instead of scribbling in the darkness of Paxton Hall.

I was one of the really lucky people who had never heard Tim speak before and so the evening was a wonderful revelation to me and an introduction to a truly inspirational speaker who delivered his talk in an extremely entertaining manner (never known a garden speaker to squeeze in so many naughty words and phrases – more below) and Tim was certainly someone who wore his knowledge lightly.   As most of you know, I am the ELC (early learning centre) branch of the HPS so forgive me if I have missed important technical details of Tim’s talk and I can hear you all saying -we are all learners – well can I just say, some of us have more to learn than others.  Here goes anyway.

Tim led us through his ten pieces of advice for gardening in the 21st Century.  He started with our soil, about which he warned us, although we can improve it, we cannot change it!  He advised on how you might improve the soil, for a herbaceous border this is done in February, and in various ways – notably by adding nutrients such as a general organic NPK fertiliser, such as Growmore.  Tim told us of an infamous border in which he had employed the extreme measure of double digging (historically known as b**tard-trenching) and from the morning after was henceforth known as the b**tard border!

Tim’s second point was to choose plants that like your soil and his motto now is ‘if at first you don’t succeed, sod it!’ There speaks a man of experience. However, Tim did point out that we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss plants that wouldn’t appear to be able to thrive on our soil – the acid/alkaline issue.  Here he spoke most lovingly of the winter-flowing shrub, Hamamelis mollis, whose perfume apparently makes Chanel no 5 smell like Dettol. Also on plants, Tim’s next point was to make use of native plants like Honeysuckle which is great for supporting moths.  He waxed lyrical about Viburnum opulus var. americanum ‘Compactum’ which has gorgeous flowers and the bonus of beautiful berries in winter.   Two further points on plants encouraged us to grow fruit and veg and to raise new plants in loam-based compost.

Tim then addressed his concern about watering and informed us he aims never to water except when planting.  His recipe here is to dig the hole and half fill with soil, firming it well around the roots of the plant and then topping up to the brim with water, which you allow to sink in before back-filling with the rest of the soil but not firming this in as much, to encourage the roots. Some call this puddling!

Tim’s next piece of advice was not surprisingly to avoid using pesticides, favouring alternative means of control – with his Hostas, for example, he goes for copper tape collars on his pots.  As I have no water feature in my garden to help with the slugs, I keep all mine in pots and use sharp grit.  I also use nematodes in the soil in spring but if some of you are feeling really brave you might go for the ‘Scandinavian cannibal slug method’ as recommended in the current issue of Cornucopia.

There were three further pieces of advice from Tim.

First,  that climate and weather is just a great unknown – thank goodness for a clear piece of advice at last!  Whilst he recommends Sir David King’s book: A Hot Topic, Tim’s conclusion, as a respected scientist is that it is impossible to know what will happen and what will grow. Don’t you just love someone who gives an honest answer!

Meanwhile we should join our local Wildlife Trusts and Plant Heritage to support conservation.  Tim suggested we also get involved in planting hedges in our own garden, in a community garden or on our estate (I don’t think he meant the variety that runs to our own personal hundred or so acres!).The best thing we can do is to get young children involved – they are our gardeners of the future.  Although, for those of us who are grandparents, we might want to practise a little more health and safety than Tim apparently did with his children – and I was certainly reassured that he was speaking about them all in the present tense – so ultimately the gardening bug has done them no long lasting harm!

And finally, who didn’t laugh when Tim put up a couple of photos of combinations of rhododendrons in flower and uttered that memorable quote – ‘people who grow rhododendrons are colour blind’! He did qualify this slightly but it did make me laugh.  So, all in all, if the looks on people’s faces and the comments people made at the end of the talk are anything to go by, we all thoroughly enjoyed our first zoom speaker and Tim will be a hard act to follow.

A great start to our Zoom future – hope to see more of you next time with or without the wine!

Carine Carson

October 2020

Harlow Carr – autumn colours

by Carine Carson and Pat Hunter

Although the weather was far from perfect, Thursday 15th October was just the sort of day to attract WYHPS members to Harlow Carr in their droves – well, at least two!

Carine and Pat were kind enough to send some pictures of the day for the website.

Carine first – she says:


“Harlow Carr was just magical today – a real profusion of stunning autumn colours and textures. The Acers and Euonymous Alatus stole the show.

I didn’t get long to enjoy the garden before the heavens opened. It was just lovely for the hour I had to wonder through the winter garden and the improved and extended rock garden.”

Pat Hunter was also very taken with an Acer, preferring the back view to the front!

Acer – front view
Acer – back view

Pat was also intrigued by the Flouroselect trials of one of her favourite plants, Rudbeckia hirta. Here are two of them:

Pat commented: “My all time favourite is Rudbekia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’ but I grow this one, so no picture!”

And finally, it was good to see that not only WYHPS members were braving the weather. Pat spotted this Comma butterfly on a single Dahlia

Lockdown Activities 2020

by Brian Denison

Back west corner with Hosta baskets, 19 May 2020

The garden has satisfied my needs during lockdown both mentally and physically. I completed a number of projects, the first of which was to build a Hosta display on the trunk of a chopped down.

The second was to rejuvenate a very shady bed.  The Sasa bamboo is well established but the area now features a new plant arrangement including Campanula glomerata, Kirengeshoma, Pleioblastus viridistriatus, Pulmonaria ‘Diana Clare’, Saxafraga ‘Rubrifolia’, Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’, Dryopteris wallichiana and Hostas. I am particularly pleased with the Hosta ‘Elvis Lives’ and Hakonechloa combo in the hanging bowl to the right.

Sasa bamboo bed, 16 June 2020

My next project was to make use of some large rocks recently excavated from the soil. I used small plants so that the rocks were not obscured, primarily Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, Hosta ‘Cracker Crumbs’, Bugle and Lamium.

New rocks, 26 June 2020

The bed is East-facing, so also somewhat shady. The rocks form part of the border shown in the picture below.

Wide view of west side of back

To the right of the rocks is a combination of Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’ and newly acquired Peucedanum ostruthium ‘Daphnis’.

‘Britt Marie Crawford’ and Peucedanum

Just behind the rocks is the new to me plant, Filipendula purpurea on the right.

Filipendula purpurea, 26 June 2020

The picture below is taken from the rock display looking west and features Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ in full bloom in early August.

Back view from the Pieris bed, with H. ‘Moerheim Beauty’

The small bed to the right is nearer the house and features a newly acquired Crocosmia ‘Severn Sunrise’ with Solidago ‘Golden Dwarf’ and Astilbe.

Crocosmia ‘Seven Sunrise’, Solidago, Astilbe combo

Rocks were also used in the front garden as shown in the next picture which features a Rudbeckia hirta ‘Rustic Dwarfs’ plant grown from seed. A free packet of the half hardy annual came with Gardeners’ World Magazine.      

New path to Clematis ‘Broughton Star’

The rocks are sited in the corner of the wider view shown here, and you may have noticed the Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ in the large pot.

Front garden

This is the main border in the front garden in July, but it is soon to be decimated because some plants are in desperate need of division and a couple are smothering more choice plants.

Front garden, main border

5 October – Work has just begun:

Front border refurbishment begins!

Sadly summer is all too short but I am still hanging on to one or two displays, such as a pot of Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ with Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’, Bush rose ‘Darcey Bussell’, Dahlia ‘Orange Turmoil’ and another Rudbeckia hirta ‘Rustic Dwarf’ with Phormium cookianum subsp. hookeri Cream Delight.

Hope to see you all next year, Brian