A Very Fairview

… and a lot of hard work

by Judi Barton

The Group was fortunate to visit the garden of Helen and Michael Myers on a bright sunny but bracing April day. Fairview’s garden has been developed over 45 years and it is an amazing collection of spring beauties.

A woodland bank on the driveway was stunning, the hellebores and epimediums really set off by the peeling bark of the Lonicera x purpusii.

Michael told us that he moved into the house with his parents when he was 11 and that was the start of a garden journey, probably quite unlike any other.

He works in horticultural education at Craven College and Ripon Walled Garden now, and over the years some of the West Yorks HPS members have benefitted from his tutoring through the RHS exams and through Plant Heritage courses too. He lectures gardening enthusiasts and our group has enjoyed 3 or 4 different talks from him – his presence always means a crowded meeting room!

Michael very clearly and generously disperses knowledge to anyone who asks him a question – I am sure he was glad to see the back of us all on Saturday, so he could rest his voice!

A pulmonaria that had us scratching our heads – it is Pulmonaria mollissima, a species pulmonaria collected in Poland. It has very soft hairy foliage, not at all bristly, and the flowers are a beautiful shade of dark blue with a touch of purply-blue. In the background is a very dainty yellow hellebore.

Helen and Michael have travelled extensively through Europe on botanising treks and there are a number of interesting and unique plants in their garden that have come home with them. They are very successful at, and have a passion for, sowing from seed. Their passion encompasses many genera – galanthus, corydalis, cardamine, hellebores, hepaticas, pleione, spring bulbs of many types – and examples are all grown to thrill at Fairview.

An abundance of Erythronium revolutum.

Probably the most formal area of the garden, at the bottom of the slope, a chance to build a garden based on straight lines. The carved rock sculpture is a unique focal point. (Left to right) our Treasurer, Maggie Sugden, Valerie Lewis, and Michael Myers.

The garden is on a challenging site – a steep hillside snuggled on its longest boundary by huge old trees. This next door tree- and rock-scape is quite ‘Lord of the Rings’, very shady and clothed in moss. An additional ‘field’ was taken on some years ago, and in that lowest area a lovely wildlife pond and a formal sunny area have been developed. There are terraces up to the house, all developed with different styles and plantings. Each has a seating area, creating a friendly feeling across the garden.

View from the terrace above the pond with the most formal part of the garden to the far right.

This mass of Chrysosplenium macrophyllum was in full flower throttle creeping onto the pond boardwalk.

Having grown this before, member and wildflower enthusiast Anne Fritchley was thrilled to see this parasite, Lathraea clandestina, doing so well. Not only was this purple toothwort growing at the base of the willow trunk it has spread around an area of about 2m x 2m. No leaves ever arise and it is only evident above ground when the brilliant purple ‘flowers’ appear. The photo at left also shows Caltha palustris ‘Alba’, the white marsh marigold.
Lathraea clandestina

I heard many people exclaim over this patch of Hacquetia epipactis ‘Thor’

What a picture – those mossy pots form a great back drop to the pink-flowered cardamines, forms of Cardamine heptaphylla and trilliums. The trilliums throughout the garden are forms of Trillium chloropetalum and Trillium kurabayashii

As you walk back up towards the house, the terraces make their own personalities known.

Pottery objects enhance this ‘landing turn’ of the steps

A pleasingly geometric path leads to a bench that I suspect rarely gets used by either of the Myers

At the top of the plot are the greenhouses and polytunnels, sand plunge beds, troughs and pots galore.

Jenny Williamson and Michael Myers discuss primulas and hepaticas. Just beyond them, in the heated section, are pots of pleiones and succulents

A collection of named corydalis in rainbow colours

This Helleborus foetidus, also at the top of the plot, was grown from seed collected in the Maritime Alps. With very finely cut leaves and big flowers, en masse this clump makes an impact. Although the individual plants are fairly short lived they seed about year on year

Not content with the garden proper, Michael and Helen have also beautified the roadside verges, which were looking marvellous with an absolute carpet of hellebores in one section while further along bulbs were the stars of the show.

A big thank you to the Myers for having our group visit Fairview. It was such a lovely morning and the garden was buzzing with enthusiastic gardeners and bees.

I thoroughly recommend checking out Michael’s posts on social media: on Instagram it’s ‘snowdropman’; on Facebook it’s ‘Michael Myers’. It’s well worth following him to boost your own knowledge from his seasonal posts.

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