Plant of the Month: July 2021

Old Shrub Roses

by Ruth Baumberg

Now it is the turn of the shrub roses. I am not writing a book on them (it is a huge subject) so I will confine myself to those that I grow in my garden. In general I prefer the old shrub roses to David Austin’s modern hybrids, so I will start with the oldest which are the albas, of which some date back to Roman times.

Rosa ‘Maiden’s Blush’

They have beautiful blue-green foliage, and I grow both ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (white and pale pink, pre-fifteenth century), and ‘Königin von Dänemark’ (pink and not so double, more semi-double). Both of these have a wonderful scent.

The next to be developed were the gallicas, which were mostly French-bred and here I grow ‘Tuscany Superb’ (1826), a wonderful velvety maroon with golden anthers, and ‘Charles de Mills’ (1790), which is deep red and very full.  Both these sucker and run, so if you want a bit, just let me know and I will dig up a bit for you and pot it up.

Again these roses have a wonderful scent and, in fact, I don’t much care for roses that aren’t scented.

On the front of my house, over the dining room window, there is an eye-catching deep pink climbing rose, ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ (1868). I haven’t gone close so I am not sure about its scent but it makes a beautiful sight when the front gate is opened. It is supposed to be repeat flowering though I don’t recall a late flower so I cannot swear that this is what it is.

Rosa ‘Felicité Perpetué’

My second climbing rose is ‘Felicité Perpetué’ (1827), which is a wonderful rambler in July, once-flowering, getting 20 feet up a silver birch tree and has tiny, white double roses with a pink tinge in a huge mass. It is easy to take cuttings and I have a second large shrub, not climbing, that is seven foot by seven foot, from a cutting.

In the back row of the garden viewed from the kitchen window are a row of three Hybrid Musks, ‘Buff Beauty’, which is a wonderful soft buff-apricot and carries an enormous amount of bloom, ‘Felicia’, another silver-pink, very prolific, shrub rose  and lastly ‘Penelope’, which isn’t so prolific but it is in deep shade. Hybrid Musks were bred by Rev Joseph Pemberton in 1929.

Rosa ‘Veilchenblau’ and Clematis ‘My Angel’

Elsewhere in the garden I have ‘Veilchenblau’ (1909), which is a purple or mauve rambler with single flowers and Rosa spinosissima, in a white double form (pre 1808), which has pretty blue-grey leaves. Coming up here and there is Rosa glauca with its blue leaves, purple stems and single deep pink flowers and lovely hips. This is another self seeder and gets removed where it is not wanted.

Rosa × odorata ‘Mutabilis’, an old China rose, is a prey to blackspot some years, but blooms from June to December and has wonderful yellow, deep pink and orange single flowers. There are odd roses not on this list but I don’t remember where they came from and just enjoy their flowers when they appear.

Ruth Baumberg

Pictures courtesy of Ruth Baumberg

Plant of the Month: June 2021


by Sue Gray

Polemoniums, for me, are a staple of the late spring/early summer garden.  Commonly known as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ on account of the pinnate leaves said to resemble Jacob’s biblical ladder rising to heaven, they have had a reputation for being rampant self-seeders which should be avoided at all costs, but there are now many named varieties which do not seed around but form clumps, in my experience up to 50cms wide and, depending on variety, anything from 25cms to almost a metre in height.

P. carneum ‘Apricot Delight’

Usually found in shades of blue, purple/mauve and white, there is a yellow form, P. pauciflora which is slightly later flowering and can self-seed, and P. carneum ‘Apricot Delight’ which rather belies its name and appears as a very pale pink flower slightly flushed with yellow.

P. ‘Lambrook Mauve’

One of my favourite varieties is P. ‘Lambrook Mauve’ which, as you might infer from the name, was discovered by Margery Fish in her Somerset garden.  It has open mauve flowers with orange anthers, but I suppose my favourite of all is P. ‘Sonia’s Bluebell’.

I have no idea how or where I first came by this lovely plant emerging with dark foliage that fades to green and pale blue flowers, but I was thrilled when it formed part of our display at Chelsea 2010 and even more thrilled when Carol Klein recorded a piece about it as part of her ‘Red Button’ coverage.  Apparently it had first been discovered in the garden of her friend Sonia, hence the name, who had helped Carol create her first ever display at Chelsea.  Sadly Sonia died not long after, and Carol’s last sentence was ‘so it is good to see Sonia back at Chelsea where she belongs’.

P. ‘Sonia’s Bluebell’

I have tried twice with P. ‘Northern Lights’ – a favourite of our late member Marguerite Mason – but lost it on both occasions, no doubt by my wrong placement, but all others that I have grown have been very easy-going and divide easily in spring to form new plants which grow away well.

Sue Gray

Pictures courtesy of Sue Gray

Directions for Woodroyd, Denby Dale and Old Scotgate, Honley

To Woodroyd, 148 Barnsley Road, Denby Dale, Huddersfield, HD8 8QW:

From Leeds. Take the M1 South to junction 39. Take 3rd exit onto A636 to Denby Dale.

Stay on this road through Denby Dale, after passing under a viaduct travel 1/3 mile and turn sharp left almost back on yourself onto the A635 Barnsley Road, this approx. 8.5 miles from the motorway.

You are now looking for No.148 on the right after about half a mile.

From Woodroyd to Old Scotgate:

Hassocks Lane, Honley, HD9 6RF

Take Barnsley Road  A635 back towards Upper Cumberworth after approx. 3.8 miles turn right,  A616 to Huddersfield at New Mill crossroads (a complicated junction in the middle of New Mill).

After approx. 2.5 miles turn left at Jewson builders. Follow this through Honley to a roundabout where you turn right, 3rd exit onto Thirstin Road.

After 150 yards at Y junction keep left onto Scotgate Road. After half a mile fork left onto Hassocks Lane. Old Scotgate is the first property on the right.

Directions for Maspin House

Hillam Common Lane, Hillam, Leeds, LS25 5HU.

From Leeds. Take the A6120  Selby Road out of Leeds, cross the M1, continuing on Selby Road A63.

Cross under  the A1(M) keeping on A63 using several roundabouts.

Pass through Monk Fryston, as you leave the village there is a car wash on the right, take the right turn after this sign posted to Kellington and Birkin.

Turn left at the T junction onto Hillam Common Lane. Follow this road for a mile and a half. Parking is just before the garden.

From the M62 towards Hull, take junction 32A onto the A1(M) North. Leave A1(M) at next junction (42). Turn right on A63 to Selby. Join instructions above.

Directions to Bridge Farm House

Long Lane, Great Heck, Selby, DN14 0BE

Take the M62 to Hull.

At Junction 34 take the A19 to Selby. At the first roundabout, turn right towards Snaith on the A645.

After the level crossing turn right at the traffic lights onto Church Lane, go over the M62, left at the T junction onto Main Street, past the Church to the T junction, virtually straight across to car park.

Lockdown Gallery 21- week 13

May 24th to May 30th

Weather: The cool showery spell continues, but more settled weather begins to appear in the second half of the week

Ruth Baumberg has a late Narcissus for you to identify

Now we all know that hardy plants should not be jet-washed – they are not quite that hardy. Unfortunately Denise Dyson was visited by someone whose aim was not all it might have been – here are some of her survivors!

Lockdown Gallery 21- week 12

May 17th to May 23rd

Weather: The cool showery spell continues

Maggie Sugden is back again, still finding flowers in this substandard spring!

And in the Hackett garden, there are some soggy blooms too

Amanda Fincham says she had to go back and take all these again, because there were too many raindrops on them the first time!

Judith Ladley surveys the queue of plants awaiting a space – and wants to see a favourite restored to York Gate

Judith Edmonds says that the cool damp weather has made her tulips last for at least three weeks – she leads off with two Sarah Raven tulip mixtures

Sue Gray was burning the midnight oil on Sunday to get these beauties through to the Gallery in time!

Lockdown Gallery 21- week 11

May 10th to May 16th

Weather: At last, the frosts have ended and the air has warmed up, even if there are plenty of showers about

Judith Ladley kicks off this week, with some of her favourite regulars

For Sue Gray, the mood is blue

And here’s Maggie Sugden – one of the most regular contributors to Gallery ’21

Ruth Baumberg offers the first Peony of the season and another Dodecatheon. If you are wondering about that name, by the way, it means ’12 gods’ and refers to the 12 principal Greek Gods who lived together on Mt Olympus. Pliny the Elder was the first to use the name for a plant, but he applied it to a Primula.

Lockdown Gallery 21- week 10

May 3rd to May 9th

No submissions this week so far, so I’ve taken the camera outside.

There’s still time to add to this week’s gallery if you are brave enough to battle the weather

Weather: The week begins with heavy rain – much needed, but it remains cool with a few frosts, which isn’t so welcome

So what could I find in the Hackett garden this week? A few tough guys out there, which have thrived despite the frostiest April in 60 years

Ruth Baumberg has answered the call, with these choice beauties

Plant of the Month: May 2021

Paris quadrifolia

by Ruth Baumberg

What to choose among all the exciting, newly opening, plants for May this year?

Should it be that reliable old friend, Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’, with its brilliant blue flowers for semi-shade? But this year some of it seems to be sadly burnt with more brown leaves (and you have to remove them to get the plant looking decent) than usual, particularly in this drought.

There are the Paeonies, but I have spoken about those before, and I am not an expert on the various smart varieties the specialist nurseries (like Kelways) sell. Pulmonarias are beginning to go over and are generally quite dull, though a reliable filler, as are the Erythroniums where the standard varieties hang on’ but the fancies die out within a year or two.

Iris sibirica varieties are a favourite of mine but they are really June flowerers, apart from Perry’s Blue, Silver Edge and Shirley Pope. And Dodecatheons (in the primula family) from the western USA are very beautiful but do not really thrive in my garden. They hang on just in the shade, though a passing rabbit dug them up last year, but I replanted them and they are in bud now. It could be defined as an alpine really, rather than one of ours.

So I will choose a wildling that clothes a north facing border under a beech hedge. Herb Paris or under its proper name Paris quadrifolia, with its four leaves and mostly green flowers (though the narrow petals are yellow and the fruit is black) can be found blooming among Bluebells and Primroses in May and June.

It is known as a Herb of Equality among medieval herbalists, seemingly because of its symmetry and was used both in marriage rituals – and to guard against witches. What connection do you think that denotes?

I have photographed it in the Picos mountains of Spain (2012) :

P. quadrifolia in Picos, taken 1st June 2012

Swedish Lapland (early July 2019) :

P. quadrifolia Swedish Lapland, taken 30th June 2019

and the Alpes Maritimes of France (2017) :

P. quadrifolia in the Alpes Maritimes, taken 18th May 2017

as well as my garden yesterday (April 24th 2021) where the drought makes the leaf edges curl slightly :

P. quadrifolia with 5 leaves, taken 24rd April 2021

And of course Paris in my garden has mostly 5 leaves instead of 4 while the one I photographed in the Picos mountains of Spain has 6 leaves.

They are akin to Trilliums which have three leaves consistently, but despite the quadrifolia part of the name, this plant can have 4-12 leaves! At any rate it is a good grower and runs gently but is not a nuisance and I love its interesting flowers.

It is difficult to give flowering dates these days as our weather is so changeable and, if a plant flowered last year in May, this year with a late spring, it can flower any time from May to July. Of course, flowering times vary with altitude and weather, but you can see from the dates on the photographs, how our climate is changing before our eyes.

Ruth Baumberg

Pictures courtesy of Ruth Baumberg