Category Archives: Garden History

Tulip Madness and other notes!

 

Now that spring has sprung, the garden is in full swing with the grass growing rapidly shortly followed by the weeds. We have been busy planting the last of the trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials until the autumn. These have included additions to the prairie beds; Sedum ‘Indian Chief’, Knautia macedonica tied together by the dwarf grass Deschampsia ‘Pixie Fountain’. A number of rare unusual trees and shrubs have also been added to our collection such as Rhododendron ‘Susan’ named after Susan de Vesci daughter of the Countess of Rosse.

Sedum carpark

Sedum ‘Indian Chief’

The Sunk Garden in the heart of the garden is in full flower at the moment with the dark purple/crimson flowers of Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’ complemented by the subtle green/pink of Tulipa ‘Greenland’. This will be followed by an injection of colour later in the year when the summer display is planted, but before that you will be able to see Germanic Iris and Cosmos ‘Chocomocha’ jousting for pride of place.

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Tulipa ‘Greenland’ complemented by Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’

The stars of the show at Nymans at the moment must be the Tulips with the burnt colours of T. ‘Cario’ and T. ‘Orange Dynasty’ on the tropical terrace with the sweet smell of honey drifting across from Euphorbia mellifera and the towering ruins as a back drop.

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Tulipa ‘Cario’ with the back drop of tropical foliage

 

Just across to the main lawn in the aptly named Ivy bed which holds in a vibrant display of the royal purple of T. ‘Negrita’ and fiery orange of T. ‘Annie Schlider’.

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Tulipa ‘Negrita’ and Tulipa  ‘Annie Schlider’ in the Ivy Bed

The Tulip bombardment starts before you even enter Nymans when you are dazzled and wowed by the flamboyant and exciting swathes of T.’Sonnet’, T. ‘Dom Pedro’ and T. ‘Night Rider’ all dark and moody colours.

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Tulips at the entrance to Nymans

 

This is a complete contrast to the entrance to the Pinetum which sees the tall orange T. ‘El Nino’ amid the pristine white of T. ‘Hakuun’ with the backdrop of green from the Pinetum.

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Tulipa ‘El Nino’

Stephen Herrington – Head Gardener

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The Harold Comber Collection

We are very proud to announce that Nymans Estate has been awarded Plant Heritage status for its Harold Comber Collection. Harold Comber was the son of the first Head Gardener, James Comber, and he collected plants in the Andes and Tasmania in the mid-1920’s.

Harold Comber

Harold Comber

The collection consists of 60 taxa that are either the original plants he collected, or propagated from those originals. His legacy plays an important role at Nymans as we endeavour to maintain the collection as well as add to it.

Chilean Border - August 2013 (2)

Desfontainea spinosa

A form of Desfontainea (pictured above) was collected by Harold in Chile and it is our job to make sure we propagate such plants so they can always be seen at Nymans, and also to make available a stock of such plants to the wider horticultural community.

Myrceugenia leptospermoides 3

Myrceugenia leptospermoides

We also aim to build on this legacy by introducing newly collected plants from these countries. The Chilean plant above came to us via Martin Gardiner of Edinburgh Botanic Garden. This plant is endangered in it’s native habitat.

Weinmannia trichosperma 2

Weinmannia trichosperma

Weinmannia is another Chilean plant, rare in cultivation, that thrives in the shelter of our Walled Garden. Last year we created a new border for Chilean plants in the Walled Garden and we have some new plants to add  to our collection this year including Escallonia x stricta ‘Harold Comber’ and Luma apiculata ‘Nana’ which was a gift from Plant Heritage.

Jon Keen, Gardener.

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Filed under Botany, Chilean Plants, Garden History, Plant collections, Plants and Planting, Tasmanian Plants, Uncategorized

Sleeping beauties

As the light begins to fade and the evenings get darker the summer borders at Nymans come to their natural end. The annuals are removed and composted, the perennials are cut back and tidied and the dahlias are lifted and ‘put to bed’ for the winter.

Cutting back the borders after a long summer flowering season

The garden team cutting back the borders after a long summer flowering season.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked in the nursery is about the care of dahlias over the winter. Here is a glimpse of how we look after these ‘sleeping beauties’ over the colder months.

Storing and over-wintering the dahlias so they can be planted out again the following year, is an important part of this autumn ritual and has been carried out in the same way for over 50 years. Taking the time to look after them through the winter means that they will be less susceptible to damp and disease and will be strong and healthy when they are re-planted in the spring.

One of the most popular dahlia varieties in the garden. 'David Howard'

One of the most popular dahlia varieties in the garden. ‘David Howard’

Once the annuals have been cleared away, the dahlias are labeled and the foliage cut back. They are then dug up from the border with as much soil as possible removed from the tubers before they are put in crates and returned to the nursery.

The dahlias are put into crates, ready for cleaning.

The dahlias are put into crates, ready for cleaning.

Once at the nursery, the stems are cut down to about 5cm  and the dahlias turned upside down for a couple of weeks to allow any excess water that has gathered in the stems to drain out. This will prevent the tubers from rotting over the winter. When they have dried out the tubers are cleaned by removing any caked- on soil – a slow but necessary task!

When clean, plastic crates are lined with old newspaper, putting each variety in a different crate. The final stage is to lightly cover the tubers with dry compost which protects the tubers from drying out completely. They are then stored in a dry, frost-free area of the glasshouse.

In the spring we check for shoots and give the tubers a sprinkling of water when they appear. The dahlias are then ready for planting out again in the borders once the danger of frosts has passed, and the cycle begins again.

Dahlias being planted in the summer borders in the spring.

Dahlias being planted in the summer borders in the spring.

If you are over-wintering dahlias at home, you can adapt these methods as long as you have somewhere dry, frost-free and with good air circulation. When the new shoots start to appear it is also a great way to take basal cuttings to raise new plants for your garden.

Dahlia 'Jesscut Julie' in the summer borders.

Dahlia ‘Jescot Julie’ in the summer borders.

Marianne Goodman, Nymans Nursery

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Wandering Wisterias

In late May and early June when the sun is out, you can often smell the sweet perfume of wisteria at Nymans. Wisterias originate from China, Japan and the eastern United States. Depending on the species, they twine either clockwise or anti-clockwise and have long flower heads.

Wisteria sinensis 'Alba' at the end of the potting shed. A white form with a delicate perfume and long flower heads.

Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’ at the end of the potting shed. A white form with a delicate perfume and long flower heads.

 Wisterias have played an important part in the history of Nymans. The Japanese exhibition in London in 1903 started the fashion and Nymans was no exception. Ludwig Messel built the pergola by the croquet lawn  where they would have room to spread. One variety is Wisteria floribunda multijuga (syn.m.macrobotrys). This variety carries extremely long flower heads often up to a metre in length. 

Wisterias on the pergola. There are at least three different varieties along the whole length.

Wisterias on the pergola. There are at least three different varieties along the whole length.

Although some of the original plants may still exist at Nymans, there are some varieties where the origins are not known as records were lost in the fire of 1947. Some varieties also suffered in the storm of 1987 when the original pergola had to be demolished.

We are often asked about the care and maintenace of these striking plants. To prune, cut the current seaons long growth back to 5-6 buds from the base. This helps to prevent tangling and twining around other shoots. In February reduce the same growths back to 2 buds. This maintains healthy spurs and encourages larger flowers.

Wisteria sinensis. the variety in the wall garden is not known.The sheltered position means it is often the first to flower in the garden.

Wisteria sinensis. The variety in the wall garden is not known.The sheltered position means it is often the first to flower in the garden.

Today the wisterias at Nymans form a magnificent spectacle- we hope you enjoy their delicate fragrance and striking blooms as much as we do.

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Workin’ On The Wild Side

Every February the garden team escapes from the lawns and borders of the formal garden and heads off into the woods and the wild garden to coppice hazel (Corylus avellana). Ditching secateurs and spades we take up pruning saws and loppers to cut hundreds of pea-sticks which we’ll use as plant supports in our garden borders; hazel  branches are the ideal material .

Volunteer Wendy cutting pea-sticks

Volunteer Wendy cutting pea-sticks

So how do we coppice a pea-stick? Coppicing is a traditional term for cutting a tree or shrub down to ground level, or a low framework, in order to let the plant re-generate. The branches are naturally fan-shaped and with a little pruning to size are perfect for peas to grow through, hence the name, but can also be used as natural plant supports for tall annual and perennial plants in the border. Look-out for future blogs where you will see us placing the pea-sticks in the borders.

 Wendy with freshly cut pea-stick

Wendy with freshly cut pea-stick

This year we have the benefit of a new battery-powered chainsaw. This is much less noisy than a petrol chainsaw and less disruptive to the tranquility of the woodland setting so much so that while we were there we enjoyed the cries of two buzzards circling overhead and the occasional rat-a-tat-tat-ing of a woodpecker. 

The chainsaw doesn’t use forest fuels or emit any fumes and in future we’re hoping to re-charge it with solar panels as we already do with our battery-powered hedge-trimmers. . Nor is there any waste created because any material the Garden Team cannot use as  pea-sticks will be taken up by the Woods Team to make all manner of products in their workshop. Woodland products are available to buy from the Plant Centre all year round and surplus pea-sticks  are available from spring onwards.

Coppicing Hazel with a battery powered chainsaw.

Coppicing Hazel with a battery powered chainsaw.

Another benefit of coppicing is that it lets light into the forest floor providing an opportunity for our native flora to flourish. You can expect to see primroses (Primula vulgaris), celandine (Ficaria verna), wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) and our coveted English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) re-colonise the ground as the hazel re-generates. It’ll be at least seven years before we return to this same spot in the woods to repeat the cycle.

Rest and recuperation for staff and volunteers.

Rest and recuperation for staff and volunteers.

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Filed under Botany, Garden History, Garden jobs, Plants and Planting, Winter interest

Festive Flora

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Christmas comes but once a year and here at Nymans we are in full swing with our Yuletide celebrations. The gardens obviously play a key role in these festivities and some of our plants that have specific connections to Christmas are currently taking a particular starring role. The Christmas tree itself is obviously one of those horticultural holiday plants but in this week’s blog I’ll also show you some of our more interesting holly and ivy specimens as well as some festive flora that you may be less familiar with.

Holly Corner The most festive part of the garden?

Holly Corner
The most festive part of the garden?

Right at the far end of the gardens here at Nymans you will find a spot we call Holly Corner. Although it affords some amazing views out over the Arboretum, the wider estate and beyond, during most of the year you may not find too many visitors dwelling here for too long when there are so many other beautiful botanic delights elsewhere. December however is when Holly Corner really starts to come into its own. Filled with a huge variety of hollies, including some quite rare examples, now is a great time to come and admire their berries and foliage. Here are some of the highlights…

This gorgeous variegated tree for instance is absolutely laden with fruits...

This gorgeous variegated Ilex aquifolium ‘Aurifodina’ tree for instance is absolutely laden with fruits…

...while the yellow berries on Ilex aquifolium 'Bacciflava' are very unusual

…while the yellow berries on Ilex aquifolium ‘Bacciflava’ are incredibly striking

The leaves on this Ilex aquifolium 'Scotica' are even thornier than the usual holly tree...

The leaves on this Ilex aquifolium ‘Scotica’, also known as the Hedgehog Holly for obvious reasons, are even thornier than your average holly tree with spines on the leaf blade itself…

...while this 'Ferox Argentea' specimen adds a lovely, subtle gilt edge

…while this ‘Ferox Argentea’ specimen adds a lovely, subtle gilt edge

Traditional Christmas carols celebrate the holly and the ivy, but their use as winter decorations predates the Christian festival. The practice of ornamenting the home with holly began with the Romans, who regarded it as an omen of good fortune and a symbol of immortality. As early Christians adopted the practice of decorating with the plant, holly took on religious associations – namely that the spiky leaves represented Christ’s crown of thorns, and the red berries his blood. In fact in Scandinavia holly is still widely known as the Christ Thorn. So intrinsically liked with the Yuletide season is the holly that in some parts of Britain holly was formerly referred to merely as ‘Christmas’, while in pre-Victorian times ‘Christmas trees’ actually meant holly bushes. Early verses of the famous carol hints at holly being a male plant and ivy being female. In some pre-Christian celebrations, a boy would be dressed in a suit of holly leaves (ouch!) and a girl similarly in ivy, to parade around the village, bringing Mother Nature through the darkest part of the year to re-emerge for another year’s fertility come the Spring.

The berries on this Ilex kingiana in the Walled Garden turn a range of beautiful colours as they age

The berries on this Ilex kingiana in the Walled Garden turn a range of beautiful scarlet and purple colours as they age

Holly Corner isn’t the only place where you can find some interesting holly plants, as the above picture of our rare Ilex kingiana holly tree from the Himalayan region goes to show. Introduced to the UK by Sir Joseph Hooker in 1880, this corking holly has impressively large leathery leaves, which are spiny in young plants, as well as larger than normal berries.

The famous holly tubes at Nymans are currently being used as part of our Christmas Trail as you can see here.  Each column is actually made up of several plants.

The famous holly tubes at Nymans are currently being used as part of our Christmas Trail as you can see here. Each column is actually made up of several plants.

Holly was often brought into the house at Christmas to protect the home from malevolent faeries. Whichever of prickly-leaved or smooth-leaved holly was brought into the house first dictated whether the husband or wife respectively were to rule the household for the coming year! Incidentally, were you aware that the prickliness of a holly leaf usually decreases as you go higher up the tree? In Celtic mythology the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from the Summer to the Winter solstice, at which time the Oak King defeated the Holly King to rule for the time until the Summer solstice again. The Holly King was depicted as a powerful giant of a man covered in holly leaves and branches, and wielding a holly bush as a club. He may well have been the same archetype on which the Green Knight of Arthurian legend was based, and to whose challenge Gawain rose during the Round Table’s Christmas celebrations.

Holly also makes a great hedge of course, like this whopper lit with Christmas lights near the Book Shop

Holly also makes a great hedge of course, like this whopper lit with Christmas lights near the Book Shop

Did you know that not all hollies are evergreen? Over the road in the Wild Garden we have a fantastic example of a deciduous holly where the bright red berries are thrown into sharp relief by the naked twigs and stems. Native to eastern parts of North America this holly boasts a wide range of common names including Black Alder Winterberry, Brook Alder, Canada holly, Coralberry, Deciduous Winterberry, False alder, Fever bush, Inkberry, Michigan Holly, Possumhaw and Swamp Holly! Whatever you call it, have a look at the picture below to see what to look for when you next venture into our Wild Garden…

Ilex verticillata

Ilex verticillata

The other headline plant from that famous old Christmas carol is of course the humble ivy. While we are not over-run with rare ivy plants here at Nymans, there is one in particular that I would like to draw your attention to. Along the Top Border which runs behind the shop and restaurant area is a type of holly that grows as a compact shrub. At the moment, as you’ll see in the pictures below, it is covered in statuesque fruits which are actually a great source of late season nectar to a wide range of garden insects.

The Top Border ivy...

The Top Border ivy…

...and those fruits in close-up

…and those fruits in close-up

Of course, throughout the garden you'll also find plenty of wild-growing holly like this one romping away up a tree near the Pinetum

Of course, throughout the garden you’ll also find plenty of attractive wild-growing holly like this one romping away up a tree near the Pinetum

The fact that ivy, like some hollies, stayed green throughout the year led some to believe it had magical properties and led to its use as home decor during the Christmas period. It symbolized eternal life, rebirth and the coming Spring season. In some cultures, ivy was also a symbol of marriage and friendship, perhaps due to its tendency to cling. In ancient Rome, ivy was associated with Bacchus (known as Dionysus in Greek mythology), god of wine and revelry, again connected to the Christmas festivities! Though not as popular as holly, ivy was still used in Yuletide festivals held during Winter by many cultures. For a period however, ivy was banished as festive decor by Christians due to its ability to grow in shade, which led to its association with secrecy and debauchery and therefore the devil. Nevertheless, the custom of decorating with holly and ivy during Christian holidays was eventually accepted and obviously still stands today.

One of our many Christmas trees can be found in the Forecourt, ably assisted by four Bay Trees!

One of our many Christmas trees can be found in the Forecourt, ably assisted by four Bay Trees!

Here at Nymans this year we have covered numerous Christmas trees with hundreds of metres of festive lights, both inside the house and out in the gardens. There are lit trees by the roadside, near the main entrance building, in the Tea Garden, and as you can see from the picture above, in the Forecourt garden. Why not see how many you can spot when you visit us over the Christmas period? The history of a decorated Christmas tree can be traced back to the ancient Romans who decorated trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. An evergreen, the Paradise tree, was also decorated with apples as a symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve held on December 24th during the middle ages. Sixteenth century folklore credited Martin Luther (the German friar, Catholic priest and professor of theology) as being the first to decorate an indoor tree. After a walk through a forest of evergreens with shining stars overhead, Luther is said to have tried to describe the experience to his family and showed them by bringing a tree into their home and decorating it with candles. The oldest actual record of a decorated Christmas tree however came from a 1605 diary found in Strasburg, France. The tree was decorated with paper roses, apples and candies. In 1834, Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, was credited with bringing the first British Christmas tree to Windsor Castle for the Royal Family.

If you head down to the Pinetum you'll find plenty of natural Christmas trees too, like this Abies bornmuelleriana, or Turkish Fir...

If you head down to the Pinetum you’ll find plenty of natural ‘Christmas’ trees too, like this Abies bornmuelleriana, or Turkish Fir…

...and this stunning blue Picea pungens 'Koster'

…and this stunning blue Picea pungens ‘Koster’

The Pinetum is a great place to walk through to spot some more Christmas-shaped conifers and you can find more information on this part of the Nymans gardens by taking a peek at this previous blog entry. If you carry on down to the Nymans woodland you might also be able to find our hidden Christmas tree that has been fully decorated by our woods team. And if you’re really lucky you may even be able to spot some mistletoe in the tree tops and ‘complete’ the festive set! Having said that however, there are some other Christmas-related plants here at Nymans that might not be so obvious at first glance. Did you know, for example, that Rosemary has plenty of Crimbo connections? As well as reportedly being the Virgin Mary’s favourite plant, it is also known as the Remembrance Herb and was used at Christmas in the Middle Ages as this is the time that Christians remember the birth of Jesus. In the late 1700s a special Christmas Rosemary Service was started in Ripon Cathedral School where a red apple, with a sprig of Rosemary in the top of it, was sold by the school boys and the members of the congregation for 2p, 4p or 6p, depending on the size of apple! You’ll find our rosemary plants here at Nymans down in the Rock Garden and in the Forecourt, including one which smells festively of gingerbread! In the following set of pictures though I’ll take you through some of our other Xmas star plants that you can find doing their festive thing right now…

Sarcococca, like this one here in the Top Garden, is commonly known as Christmas Box.  The flowers may not look like much but the scent is stunning!

Sarcococca sp., like this one here in the Top Garden, is commonly known as Christmas Box. The flowers may not look like much but the scent is stunning!

This variety along Winter Walk even has its berries on show too.

This variety along Winter Walk even has its berries on show too.

Hellebores are often called the Christmas Rose because they flower at this time of the year.  These Helleborus foetidus for example are also found along Winter Walk...

Hellebores are often called the Christmas Rose because they flower at this time of the year. These Helleborus foetidus for example are also found along Winter Walk…

...while these 'Party Dress Group' types are about to burst into flower near the cafe

…while these ‘Party Dress Group’ types are about to burst into flower near the cafe

Another plant sometimes referred to as the Christmas Rose is the Hydrangea.  This group along the outer borders of the Rose Garden are flanked by some cracking Cornus stems in the opposite bed

Another plant sometimes referred to as the Christmas Rose is the Hydrangea. This group along the outer borders of the Rose Garden are flanked by some cracking coloured Cornus stems in the opposite bed

What has this red-flowered Camellia got to do with Christmas I hear you ask?

What has this red-flowered Camellia got to do with Christmas I hear you ask?

Well, it is named Camellia x vernalis 'Yuletide' because it reliably flowers during the holiday season

Well, it is named Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’ because it reliably flowers during the holiday season

Of course, there are plenty of other plants that have Christmas connotations throughout the World, but those that flower in the hotter countries of the Southern hemisphere wouldn’t be suitable for doing the same thing in the cold Winter climate of Sussex! In Israel however, the olive tree is very popular at this time of year, with branches being given as symbols of peace on Christmas Day, and here at Nymans we even have a series of olive trees growing in terracotta containers in our Tea Garden! And that really does complete our set of Christmas plants. Make sure you pop in over the next few weeks and check them all out for yourselves. We will be open every day apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day so we hope to see you soon. Of course, there is plenty more to see and do here at all times of the year so to make sure you keep up to date with all that is going on at Nymans, don’t forget you can interact with us on both Twitter and Facebook as well as finding out all the important visitor information via our official website. If you want to be alerted by email when each new Nymans Garden Blog is published, simply click the ‘Follow’ button at the top of this page and carry out the instructions.

Happy Christmas from everyone here at Nymans!

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Moving Home

The new site of the Wilson 50 Azaleas at Nymans

The new site of the ‘Wilson 50’ Azaleas at Nymans

Not only only is Autumn a beautiful season here at Nymans, full of fantastic foliage and beautiful berries in so many different colours, it is also the perfect time for carrying out some key jobs around the garden. So, if you’re thinking of moving plants in your own garden, or if you have ever wondered what is the difference between a Rhododendron and an Azalea, read on…

We’ve already waxed lyrical about our Autumn lawn work and rose care in a couple of previous blogs (click on the underlined key words to see those now) but when the soil is still reasonably warm and it’s been moistened by the seasonal rain, now is also a great opportunity to move plants from one spot to another. There will be less stress for the plant if moved at this time of year. There will also be less need to watering once transplanted, especially as the plants are about to enter a dormant period.

The Wilson 50 collection, as seen back in 2010

The Wilson 50 collection, as seen back in 2010

One of the big transplanting jobs we’ve been working on recently is that of the collection of Wilson 50 Azaleas that we have here at Nymans. As you can see from the above photograph, the previous home for them was on the mount in the Rock Garden that overlooks the Croquet Lawn. This spot however was too exposed and the shrubs didn’t enjoy being baked in full sun every day. We lost a couple of them during this time and it was then that the decision was made to re-house them elsewhere. We chose a border along the East Drive that backs onto the Walled Garden. Here they will receive a mix of full sun and shade at different times of the day. The wall will also provide more shelter for them.

Here are the Azaleas awaiting their placing out and replanting

Here are the Azaleas awaiting their placing out and replanting

And here are some of the garden team hard at work with the process

And here are some of the garden team hard at work with the process

Water-retaining granules were added to the bottom of each hole, along with a healthy dollop of our home-made compost

Water-retaining granules were added to the bottom of each hole, along with a healthy dollop of our home-made compost

Luckily the weather held out while we worked!

Luckily the weather held out while we worked!

And here is the final product.  The Azaleas look like they've always been there!

And here is the final product. The Azaleas look like they’ve always been there!

The ‘Wilson 50’ is a collection of important evergreen Kurume Azaleas collected by the famous plant hunter Ernest Wilson in Japan during the 1920s. Wilson traveled to Kurume at the behest of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston and selected what were in his opinion the fifty best Azaleas that would be suitable for a western climate. Upon his return to Boston, they were propagated and then distributed around the World to key gardens and parks. We currently only have 19 of the collection, although we have more than one of most of them. We are also planning to add some of the missing Azaleas to our collection and have recently made contact with The Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park who also have a similar Wilson 50 collection. We plan to propagate from each others’ stock next year so that we can both get closer to the full 50.

Each plant in the collection is labelled with its name and also the official Wilson 50 number

Each plant in the collection is labelled with its name and also the official Wilson 50 number

Our current Wilson 50 Azalea collection includes the following specimens:

1 – Rhododendron ‘Seikai’
2 – R. ‘Kure-no-yuki’
3 – R. ‘Shin-seika’
7 – R. ‘Hachika-tsugi’
8 – R. ‘Irohayama’
9 – R. ‘Ho-o’
12 – R. ‘Kasumi-gaseki’
15 – R. ‘Kimigayo’
16 – R. ‘Asuma-kagami’
21 – R. ‘Satome’
22 – R. ‘Kirin’
24 – R. ‘Kiritsubo’
26 – R. ‘Oi-no-mezame’
28 – R. ‘Shin-utena’
31 – R. ‘Suga-no-ito’
32 – R. ‘Kasane-karagibi’
42 – R. ‘Hino-degiri’
48 – R. ‘Hinode-no-taka’
50 – R. ‘Hana-asobi’

At he same time as the Wilson 50 Azaleas were being transplanted, we also moved some other Rhododendrons to the other side of the East Drive path...

At the same time as the Wilson 50 Azaleas were being transplanted, we also moved some other Rhododendrons to the other side of the East Drive path…

...where they will add to this sort of Spring display as seen here from earlier in the year

…where they will add to this sort of Spring display as seen here from earlier in the year

What is the difference between a Rhododendron and an Azalea I hear you ask?! Well, to put it simply, all Azaleas are actually Rhododendrons but not all Rhododendrons are Azaleas. Does that make sense? To elaborate further, Rhododendron is a genus (i.e. a group of plants with shared characteristics) and Azaleas are a group within that genus, rather than forming an actual genus of their own. Although they all require the same conditions and cultural treatment for healthy growth, the way you can distinguish the differences between them goes as follows:

1. An Azalea has 5 stamens while other Rhododendrons have 10 or more.
2. Azaleas can be deciduous or evergreen while other Rhododendrons are all evergreen.
3. Azaleas are small to medium shrubs but other Rhododendrons range from small, low-growing prostrate shrubs to large domineering trees.

A vintage view of the Sunken Rockery from the photo album of Thomas Messel

A vintage view of the Sunken Rockery from the photo album of Thomas Messel

Another big transplanting job we did around the same time recently involved an unusual collection of deciduous Azaleas from the Sunken Rockery. This area is the project area for Flic Archer, our trainee gardener as part of her National Trust Diploma scheme. Flic’s proposal is to create a dry gravel garden here with plants that originate from the Oceanic climate of Australia, New Zealand and the surrounding islands. These plants will be adaptable to the site and growing conditions at Nyman’s, as demonstrated by the success of similar style planting in the nearby Mediterranean and South African beds. Gravel gardens are currently in vogue due to climate change, and this would reflect the Messel family’s attention to current trends and forward thinking approach. The style of a gravel garden also allows for a playful planting scheme and experimentation in testing the hardiness of Australasian plants, again in line with the Messels’ spirit of adventure and momentum.

Here's Flic and a team of gardeners and volunteers in the process of moving another group of Azaleas

Here’s Flic and a team of gardeners and volunteers in the process of transplanting the group of Azaleas in question

As part of the hard landscaping process for this project, the Azaleas here are being moved as they won’t fit in with Flic’s new planting plan or design ethos. Their journey was mercifully short however as they can now be found in a corner bed of the main lawn near the Rock Garden and Wisteria Pergola. Once again, the slightly shadier conditions of this site will hopefully allow the shrubs to thrive that much better then were they were before. Other landscaping work going on in Flic’s Sunken Rockery recently has included the placement of large boulders sourced from a local quarry and the installation of a French drain system to improve drainage at the bottom of the site.

Another day, another Azalea collection being replanted! (Don't worry, your eyes aren't going funny, this picture is a bit blurred - sorry!)

Another day, another Azalea collection being replanted!
(Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t going funny, this picture is a bit blurred – sorry!)

And here is the final result, complete with carpet of Cyclamen growing beneath

And here is the final result, complete with carpet of Cyclamen growing beneath

As you can see, there is always plenty going on in the gardens here at Nymans to keep us busy! These new projects and changes are in keeping with the experimental and forward thinking approach that the Messel family had during their tenure, and long may that continue. Of course, there is plenty more to see and do here at all times of the year so to make sure you keep up to date with all that is going on at Nymans, don’t forget you can interact with us on both Twitter and Facebook as well as finding out all the important visitor information via our official website. If you want to be alerted by email when each new Nymans Garden Blog is published, simple click the ‘Follow’ button at the top of this page and carry out the instructions.

We’d like to find out more about how Nymans makes you feel and what in your opinion makes it a special place. This feedback will help inform our visitor experience and feed into future planning for Nymans. Please either email your thoughts to nymansmarketing@nationaltrust.org.uk or give some feedback on either Twitter or Facebook at NymansNT. You can also pick up a comment card – please ask a member of staff.  We need all feedback by 27 November.

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