Surrey Homes | SH56 | June 2019 | Kitchen & Bathroom supplement inside


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Autumn Fair at Great Dixter and the Northiam Plant

Fair. We queued in the drizzle for half-an-hour at the

latter, but the variety of plants on offer made it so

worthwhile and there were plenty of people to talk to.

The first plants to go in have been three ferns whose

name is a bit of a handful. These are Coniogramme emeiensis,

introduced from the holy Mount Emei in the Sichuan

Province of China. They have quite spectacular tall,

branched, ribbon-shaped fronds with distinctive yellow

banding. My mistake, I think, was putting them in too

early and the result has been that they have been lashed

by the wind. They’re hardy to -15°C but I didn’t take into

account howling gales. The morning ritual now is to go

and check them and I see that a few croziers are making an

appearance on one of them. They grow to about four feet

so should make quite a statement when they eventually get

going. The thing is that the nights haven’t reached above

10°C this year as yet and this is holding things back.

And then there are the epimediums. I’m trying

E x warleyense and E x rubrum as ground cover in the

same area. The former is named after Warley Place

which was the home of the famous gardener, Ellen

Willmott. They should both bulk up and make good

ground cover. Epimedium x warleyense produces peach/

yellow flowers and has evergreen foliage. The heart

shaped leaves of E x rubrum is bronze when new which

contrasts beautiful with delicate crimson flowers on wiry

stems. They are so pretty and fairy-like. Epimediums can

become a bit of an obsession and I was glad to see an

article about them in the latest edition of The Garden.

What else has gone in there? Well, some aconites for

height and late season colour, a blue comfrey that my son

gave me and which he was busy ripping out – invasive but

a lovely blue. A few smaller ferns like the broad buckler

fern, Dryopteris affinis ‘Crispa Whiteside’. Oh, and a lovely

Japanese shrub, Kirengeshoma palmata, which is looking very

happy. Palmate foliage combines with dark stems and in the

autumn, lovely yellow bell-shaped flowers appear. It’s happy

in partial shade but the soil needs to be kept quite moist.

This ‘under the apple tree’ area will probably dry out

a bit, especially if we have another hot summer, so it’s

on the list to be kept well watered. We’ve also added

Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’ with its purply black leaves

and scented white flowers, a few interesting looking

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