Plant of the Month: May 2022

Tulipa Sprengeri

by Sue Gray

Tulipa sprengeri

Tulipa sprengeri, or Sprenger’s tulip, is a wild tulip from Turkey and is the latest to flower, usually in late May and June.  Introduced to Europe by the German gardener Mühlendorff in 1892, it is named after Carl Sprenger, who published a description of the plant, although the first scientific description was produced by J. Gilbert Baker in 1894 in The Gardener’s Chronicle.  So many were lifted and spread throughout Europe that it was thought to be extinct in the wild but, as it is grown in many botanic gardens, the Atatürk Arboretum in Istanbul has initiated a reintroduction project in co-operation with Kew Gardens.

They are elegant plants around 30cms in height with bright red flowers, the outer petals being flushed with yellow.  Although they are said to require well drained soil they do well in my garden in a reasonably moist area – see image.  I cannot remember how long it is since I first planted a very small quantity of bulbs, but they have self-seeded prolifically.  Each year I attempt to lift some and pot them up, but it is not easy to do as the bulbs go very deep and often I am just left holding a flower stem that has detached itself from the bulb.

Image courtesy of Sue Gray


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.

A Visit to Harewood House Gardens

by Judi Barton

Images courtesy of Judi Barton

We live very close to Harewood and when our children were much younger we visited regularly, mainly for the very exciting playground. It is possibly 10 years since we last visited, so I was interested to see how it had changed and I thought WY HPS might like to share some of our visit.

Rogue daffodils

These two ‘rogue’ daffodils caught my eye as guardians of the miniatures covering the bankside next to the hill path from house down to the lake and cascade. There were pollen beetles inside some of the coronas.

The Himalayan Garden was evidently having a spring-clean with redevelopment of the bog garden being underway. Not sure if this was due to its age or if the recent storms had inflicted damage. There were signs of tree damage across the grounds.

With the sun out the drumstick primulas were doing a roaring trade in bees and butterflies.

Osmunda regalis

A forest of crispy brown Osmunda regalis stems looked very stately. Adjacent to this section of the bog garden was the most floriferous pink camellia, looking at peak perfection against the blue sky.

Sitting on one of the bog garden seats, we were intrigued by the spidery red ‘flowers’ of a tree that was just coming into leaf. Can anyone identify it for me? From a distance it was a haze of orangey-red.

What is this?

Continuing up the hill from here we glimpsed the Nepalese stupa festooned in prayer flags.

Nepalese stupa festooned in prayer flags

Nearby was a magnolia with branches sculpted by the wind and light into a waveform pattern and a bit further along the woodland path we spied a very beautifully marked and delicately coloured rhododendron flower.

The walled garden was just being brought back to life with a young gardener sowing seeds directly into the newly weeded and mulched beds. Interesting to see they are trialling hemp fabric as a soil warmer and weed suppressant.

The lakeside was carpeted in Petasites, not easy to see in the photo but look carefully in the foreground for the brownish flower stalks.

Petasites at the Lakeside

Walking back from the walled garden we noticed a rich red carpet of rhododendron petals that were lit up by sunlight. The bark of these rhododendrons has interesting colours and patterns, which contrasts with their strangely gaunt growth habit.

Back up to the House, the parterre garden was immaculate and must have been tended throughout the pandemic. I was stopped in my tracks when I came to the display of topiary in a sea of Muscari and golden grass, maybe Ophiopogon japonicus? Against the dazzlingly blue sky it was breathtaking, and I thought an inspired combination using Muscari, a bulb that some consider a thug, with the shining golden grass.

Muscari and golden grass, maybe Ophiopogon japonicus?

The sphinx sisters were still guarding each corner of the house, each living under a variegated holly as prickly as their claws are sharp. I always admire the carving of their plaits but avoid their spooky staring eyes. The holly was interesting in its leaf colour – there are a lot of plain yellow leaves amongst the green/golden.

A new woodland development project up near the Church, the Sylvascope Treehouse, was really interesting and will be worth re-visiting as the seasons cycle through. Surrounding the church are some really lovely old trees. Sadly some of them were fallen, presumably after February’s three devastating storms. Those storms, following on from two years of pandemic, area compounding disaster for our large historic gardens. No ‘instant gardening’ can help recovery in these settings – replacing giant trees and re-starting gardening programmes on presumably diminished budgets, will take much time.

The Sylvascope Treehouse

Happily Harewood appears to be moving forward in a positive vein. The Sylvascope Treehouse project, part of the Harewood 2022 Biennial, is at the centre of a project to prove the importance of woodland management. It is a really positive new element of the Harewood estate, and a happy way to end our pleasant afternoon visit.

Plant of the Month: April 2022

Glaucidium palmatum Siebold & Zucc.  – Japanese wood poppy

by Peter Williams


Of the numerous truly beautiful Japanese native plants, Glaucidium palmatum is considered by many shade and woodland gardeners to be the ‘fairest of them all’.

Fig.1 – Glaucidium palmatum flowering in April

Despite its common name, the Japanese wood poppy is not in the poppy family and its true lineage has been the subject of controversy for decades. It has been ‘in and out’ of the Ranunculaceae, and when ‘out’ it has been considered to be a member of the Papaveraceae, the Paeoniaceae, the Podophyllaceae or the sole representative of its own family, the Glaucidiaceae. Modern genetic analysis has ended the controversy and confirmed that it is a primitive member of the Ranunculaceae and the genus Glaucidium has just one species – palmatum.

Glaucidium palmatum is endemic to central and northern Japan and is found mainly in mountainous regions of Hokkaido and Honshu where it grows in montane and sub-alpine forests. It is considered to be a vulnerable species in Japan because of historic plant collecting and habitat disturbance and is listed in the Hokkaido Red Book of endangered organisms.

Fig.2 – G. palmatum growing on Mount Higashidate, Honshu


Fig.3 – A pair of shoots emerging in late March with leaves protected by a sheath

G. palmatum is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial that breaks winter dormancy in late March when fat buds appear at the soil surface


The shoots rapidly expand to give pairs of pale-green, maple-like leaves that in mature specimens are wrapped protectively around large, single, pale lilac flower buds that open in April and May. Like many members of the Ranunculaceae, the coloured petaloid structures are sepals and petals are totally absent.

Fig.4 – Newly opened flowers

A white form, var. leucanthemum, was first described in 1910 and is available in commerce (and is even more expensive that the standard lilac form!). It was initially grown as an alpine glasshouses subject although it is just as hardy as the lilac form and fares just as well outdoors.

Glaucidium can be a tricky plant to grow and requires at least partial shade and cool or cold growing conditions to simulate its natural montane habitat. The advice from the Japanese grower Matsuzaki published in The Gardener’s Chronicle in 1925 suggested it should be planted in soil “with plenty of humus” in a half-shaded position.

My initial plants came from a Japanese nursery (Yuzawa Engei on Hokkaido) and I grow them in a north-facing bed that receives just a little afternoon sunshine. It seems to be important to ensure that the plants are not shaded by adjacent plants. In this respect Glaucidium seems to have very similar light/shade requirements to its close relative Anemonopsis japonica and another Japanese woodland beauty, Pteridophyllum racemosum. I grow all three species in close proximity in an infertile, sandy acid soil that is largely free of slugs – a pest that is often suggested to be ‘very partial’ to this trio of lovely woodlanders.


Fig.5 Left, Anemonopsis japonica Right, Pteridophyllum racemosum


Fig.6 – Seed follicles and harvested seed

The flowers of G. palmatum are probably self-fertile but I cannot be sure because I planted three specimens in one location and they may be cross pollinating. Seed are freely produced in a very distinctive bilobed fruit that becomes woody before seed release. The seed themselves look quite like lily seed and require a cold winter period to break dormancy. Seed sown in autumn will usually germinate in spring and flowering sized plants produced in about three years.


Fig.7 A group of developing shoots in late March 2022

Having been fortunate enough to have grown these wonderful plants for a few years, early spring is always an anxious time because I so much want them to have successfully overwintered. I looked for evidence of life yesterday (28th March 2022) and was pleased to see that all was well as plump buds were emerging through the leaf litter for all members of my little colony of Japanese wood poppies.


Images courtesy of Peter Williams other than Fig 2:

Image: downloaded 28/03/2022

A Wild Weather Joyful Garden Visit

by Judi Barton


As the 2022 snowdrop season draws to a close it is wonderful to have photos from my NGS Snowdrop Open Day visit to ‘The Poplars’, in Sutton-on-Trent. Located 7 miles north of Newark, the garden has been developed over 45 years by Sue and Graham Goodwin-King. The weather was unpredictable but at just over an hour’s drive I chanced it, and what a joy it was.


A most elegant repurposing of an old metal bathtub, landscaped to mimic a woodland scene. The snowdrop cultivars illustrated different forms such as the Trym type at the rear (outers that flare out, each with a green basal mark) at the right front a snowdrop with green inner and outer petals. All of the snowdrops and many other plants in the garden are meticulously labelled, a boon for those ‘who need to know what it is’!

The garden entrance lures you via displays of potted snowdrops, towards a covered sales area from where you turn into two courtyard areas overlooked by the rear conservatory. The path guides you round to a large lawned area opening out from the original front door of the house, past a small secluded alley that has been turned into a beautiful fernery, full of spring beauties including snowdrops of course.


In this shady alleyway along one side of the house a naturalistic shade border has been created and filled with beautiful plants. The wall climbers no doubt look fabulous as the year progresses.

The rectangular lawn is bounded with beds of roses and on one side there is an imposing columned walkway with pergola that must be a marvellous sight when the climbing roses are at their peak.


The formal main lawn with colonnaded walk to the left. The clipped cubes are a great companion to the winter display of snowdrops (above photo at left) and then in summer to the riot of colourful plants seen below left. Below right is a tall clump, Galanthus elwesii hybrid ‘Reverend Hailstone’, which is growing in the left hand border. The jungle hut roof is visible above the far hedge.


From here you move into a secluded seating area in a shady area of ferns and hellebores, guarded by an owl sculpture. The garden is full of sculpture, all beautifully placed as are the many pots of feature plants that are scattered throughout.


Above is the black and white garden, with guardian owl, just out of shot on the right. The seating area is very meditative.

A productive vegetable garden proves too good to ignore – isn’t it great to nose your way through someone else’s vege plot to work out what they do the same and differently to you? Next is an amazing mini woodland walk, entrancing with mature daphnes, clumps and swathes of snowdrops, arums, ferns and other plants that were tantalisingly just emerging. The photo below left shows one of many beautifully marked arums, while the photo at right is a striking black and white conjunction on the edge of the woodland area.

word-image word-image

Contrary to garden lore, Graham says the daphnes are really strong growers in their garden. As well as collecting daphne cultivars he has grown many from cuttings over the years. The specimens were certainly impressive and even on a windy February day the fragrance was evident.


Behind this charming bird is a variegated daphne; other specimens in the garden were much bigger and all were dispersing perfume that was evident despite the wind.

Moving back towards the house you spy a quirky ‘jungle hut’ cunningly built into a mature tree. Adjacent to this is a really beautifully styled Japanese gravel garden (photo below). With a pond and interesting pine specimens this area entices you to stop and sit to take in all the features. Even in showery February!

Then back to the courtyard areas – two distinctive themed areas, the larger centred round what Graham called a bottle well (to do with the shape of the brickwork) they had discovered and restored (photo below – you can just see the flowering Acacia dealbata on the left against the sky and, at right, the tetrapanax topped with furry brown buds). Running water and a gentle wind chime provides charming background music.

This is the summer exotics garden (pictured above), filled with cannas and bananas for summer enjoyment. Catching the eye in February (photo below) was a mimosa (Acacia dealbata) that looked beautiful with fresh leaves and tiny yellow pompom flowers – but was less of a favourite with Sue and Graham as it has proved over-vigorous, suckering around the area, which seemed amazing. Another sight to behold was the tetrapanax with its brown furry knobbly buds at the top of tall thin fissured trunks.

The smaller courtyard area had a different feel altogether with a dining table surrounded by beautifully placed pots of galanthus contrasting with exotic flowering Correa reflexa ‘Marian’s Marvel’ while an exquisite camellia flower (Camellia japonica ‘Adelina Patti’ confirms Graham) adorned the house wall.


The Correa reflexa ‘Marian’s Marvel’ covered in flower at right in full view from the outdoor dining table.



This is Camellia japonica ‘Adelina Patti’ with perfect bud and flower, growing on the house wall.

The Yellow Book description of Sue and Graham’s garden says it is: ‘a mature ½ acre garden on the site of a Victorian flower nursery with charming sitting places and over 400 snowdrop varieties in early spring for the galanthophiles. The snowdrops are planted out around the garden and flower from November into early April. In February they will be joined by many kinds of spring bulbs and winter-flowering shrubs. Companion plantings include primulas, arums, dwarf iris and over 100 varieties of fern. There will also be displays of snowdrops in pots and troughs, showing the very wide range of flower shapes and colours as well as differences in foliage. Nine species are represented plus numerous hybrid forms.


Galanthus nivalis ‘Warei’


Galanthus plicatus ‘Diggory’.


Via the HPS Galanthus Group talk by Lyn Miles we heard that Graham and Sue’s displays of snowdrops were meticulously labelled. I was particularly keen to see this in the hopes that it would increase my knowledge of the details that differentiate the snowdrop species. I was not disappointed! The labelling system in both pots and the garden is really impressive with species and hybrid name plus evidence of the Goodwin-King’s own numbering system. What organisation!

The snowdrops in the rose garden and woodland walk areas in particular struck me as quite tall in plump clumps. Perhaps because of their more southerly location compared to my home turf of Yorkshire? Or perhaps because they are well established and grown in fertile soil? Admirably beautiful, whatever the reason.


This enclosed seating area is between the Japanese-style garden and the woodland walk garden. I found it a good spot to take a breather after viewing the many different snowdrops in the woodland area.


The photo below shows one small part of the woodland garden, with various winter treasures.

A final thought about this garden. It is impressive because, in spite of the many years that the Goodwin-King’s have gardened here, they have continually re-developed it. And even though they have amassed a huge snowdrop collection, snowdrops are not their only gardening passion. With an expansive collection of natives and exotics, it is obvious that they have boundless enthusiasm for plants and the skills to make them at home in their marvellous garden.

Images courtesy of Judi Barton

Directions for Stillingfleet Lodge and Nurseries

Vanessa Cook,  Stillingfleet Lodge Garden & Nurseries,                                       

Stewart Lane, Stillingfleet YO19 6HP

Our visit will start with a welcome and a coffee.

Stillingfleet Village lies 6 miles south of York on the B1222.   If approaching from Naburn, once in the village turn right opposite the church, following the signpost to Lodge Nurseries. If approaching on the A19 south of York, once you have passed through Escrick, follow the brown signs and turn right and follow the road for approximately 2 miles, then turn right into Stillingfleet village immediately before the Cross Keys Pub.  Cross the bridge in the village and turn left following the signs for Lodge Nurseries opposite the church.

Directions for Tymbel Stede

Diane Rawnsley, Tymbel Stede, Hookstone Garth, Thornthwaite, HG3  2PJ

You are welcome to bring a picnic lunch, tea and coffee will be available.

From Leeds take the A61 towards Harrogate, then  A59 towards Skipton then turn right at the far side of Menwith Hill. Straight on past the Welcome to Nidderdale sign and down the steep hill then turn left on to Low Lane signposted to Thornthwaite. At Myers garage you can park opposite on Day Lane or further up on Low Lane. Hookstone Garth is on the right a little further on.

Directions for Fairview

Michael Myers, Fairview, Smelthouses, Summerbridge HG3 4DH

12 miles north of Harrogate just off the A6165 (Harrogate to Pateley Bridge road) near Wilsill.

From Leeds take the A61 to Harrogate and on towards Ripon. At the second roundabout in Ripley take the B6165 to Pateley Bridge.

On entering Wilsill take the first right to Smelthouses. Continue ¾ m into the hamlet of Smelthouses. Fairview is on the right just after the bridge.

Alternatively Smelthouses can be approached from the crossroads at Brimham Rocks. The hamlet is about 1 mile from the crossroads.

Please park on the footpath side of the bridge.

Plant of the Month: February 2022

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Grandiflora’

by Kate van Heel

Plant of the month this February is Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Grandiflora’ (paperbush). At the moment it’s not quite in bloom, but instead is covered in buds just waiting to open. Each bud is covered with tiny silver hairs, making the buds shimmer in the weak winter sun.

Once the leaves drop in winter, the young buds are revealed covering the bare reddish brown decorative bark. In Japan, the shrub’s bark has been used for making durable tissue paper called ‘mitsumata paper’ which is used for making bank notes, hence its common name of Paper Bush Plant.

In early spring it produces incredibly fragrant yellow and cream flowers before the leaves appear, providing a welcome source of food for any pollinators at this time of year. It is a relative of the Daphne, apparently sharing its preference for cool, lightly shaded spots. In my garden it receives sun until early afternoon when it is shaded by tall trees next door.

It grows to 1.5m by 1.5m in a pleasing goblet shape and although it is said to only tolerate temperatures down to -5C, I have grown it in my garden (admittedly located in the sheltered Kirkstall valley) for more than seven years with no problems.

I would highly recommend Edgeworthia as a fabulous plant for the winter garden.


Images courtesy of Kate van Heel