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After the opening – May at Redcroft

I went to the Chelsea Flower Show and much admired many of the show gardens. There was some lovely planting.  But the winner of ‘Best in Show’, although brilliantly done, was really hardly a garden at all, more of a stream side scene and a homage to beavers.

This photo of what people see when they come in the garden here makes me wonder if we are rather out of tune with the prevailing look.  The crisply cut edges, the lawn mown with stripes, dare I say it, and the carefully tailored trees, are perhaps too controlled for the current way of thinking. But I console myself with the fact that we have got some long grass too and some buttercups.

Anyway the garden openings were a great success. Over Saturday and Sunday 14th and 15th May we had 750 paying visitors and quite a few children, as well as dogs.  The plant sale raised £2,855 and 280 people had tea.  The No Strings Attached Wind Band seemed to be enjoyed by all, and added a cheerful note to the occasion, and people were intrigued to see Innerwick next door which had never been open before.   The charity, Canine Partners, received a good donation.

The many pots of tulips which we have in the yard where the tea and the plant sale are held, were not as good as usual; some didn’t come up properly (perhaps affected by slugs, perhaps planted too many to a pot) and some were over and had to be taken away. This pot of Angelique was perhaps the best as it is late flowering and was in the shade.

This combination of yellow flowered Piptanthus laburnoides and blood red tree peony ‘delavayi’ were at their best that weekend and nearby Abutilon suntense, planted only a year ago, provided an interesting colour contrast.  It has only to get a little bigger to be visible as you drive down the road.

Abutilon suntense

We have many walls here and the house wall facing east has this Ribes (below) covering part of it. It is Ribes speciosum, a gooseberry relative with very similar leaves and also very prickly.  The flowers are often mistaken for fuchsias and last a long time, continuing to improve as spring moves on. The sinuous branches lend themselves to this type of wall training and the new growth is ruthlessly cut off to maintain the skeletal appearance.

You sometimes see old gardens with their walls almost covered in Erinus alpinus at this time of year, perhaps more often the purple than the white one.  I have been trying to persuade it to grow on this south facing wall which has plenty of inviting small slits and cavities. But it has been a bit of a struggle so I was pleased to see these two plants and even if they are a bit lonely, they had the grace to bloom on the crucial weekend.

Things have moved on since the open weekend and these Geranium palmatum were relying on their good show of leaves then but have come into flower in the last few days.  They are seen here behind the line of Nerines and in front of a yellow berried Cotoneaster.  There are a great many of them here as they self-seed in profusion in the gravel. We dig up the seedlings and sold a good number of them at the plant sale.

You almost never see a rhododendron at Chelsea, they are out of fashion which is rather sad as they play a big part in many of our gardens round here.  These rhododendrons were not in full flower for the garden opening either but now at the end of May, provide a dramatic note of colour.  They are ‘Pink Pearl’, launched in 1900 and once the most widely planted hybrid rhododendron, and double purple ‘Fastuosum Flore Pleno’, another old hybrid which the Coxes say in their Guide to Choosing Rhododendrons is rugged, versatile, sun and shade tolerant and very free flowering. What more could you want, but not fashionable at all!

All photos taken recently at Redcroft.
Anna Buxton, 31st May 2022

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