At Nymans you can enjoy some exotic species of plants that rather look down their noses at our native counterparts. All hail from the region known as Macronesia which includes Madeira, the Azores, the Canary Islands and the Cape Verdes. They have all evolved into giants.
The above Geranium is superficially like our own ankle-high Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) but this one grows to over a metre tall and up to 2 metres wide.
The dramatic Echium pictured below is in the family Boraginaceae which means it is related to the herb borage, forget-me-nots, and sometime bedding plant Echium vulgare, all of which are dwarfed by this 3m flower spike. This plant will flower in its second or third year after which it will set profuse quantities of seed, then die.
- Echium pininiana
Our native flora boasts a few Spurges (Euphorbias) the largest of which would be shade-loving Euphorbia amygdalloides at half a metre tall. The sun-loving giant Euphorbia (pictured below) reaches over 2m tall and 3m wide at Nymans. It is a hybrid between two large growing Macronesian species, E.mellifera and E. stygiana, both of which make good garden plants themselves.
Euphorbia x pasteurii
All these plants can be grown successfully outdoors in the milder parts of the U.K. Echium pininiana seedlings may need protection through the winter. Or simply come and enjoy them and other plant delights at Nymans.
Author: Jon Keen
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 ‘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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
Tulipa ‘El Nino’
Stephen Herrington – Head Gardener
Glorious May is a month of rapid growth in the garden and it’s important to stake your summer flowering perennial plants before they grow too tall. This means you can stake the plants without too much risk of damage to developing flower stems and also while there is still some space between plants for access.
Perennials (Veronicastrum) weed-free and ready for staking.
At Nymans we use hazel (Corylus avellana) branches known as pea-sticks to support many of our plants. A previous blog (‘Workin’ on the Wild Side’) showed the Garden Team cutting these in February, but now it’s time to place them in the border so that our summer flowering plants are able to withstand the wind and rain as well as support the weight of their own flowers.
This handy old tool makes it easier to insert the pea-stick
When the Garden Team harvested the pea-sticks we cut them with a pointed end so that they are easier to insert into the ground, but if the ground is too firm we use an old metal rod to make a hole. The team then insert the pea-sticks and effectively start to build a cage around the plant.
Perennials enclosed with pea-sticks
The pea-sticks are then bent over at about two thirds of the plants ultimate height. Because we use hazel wood the pea-sticks will not break completely when bent over, but maintain a ‘hinge’ of wood that allows us to interweave the bent pea-sticks completing the cage.
Bent but not entirely broken
Provided the cage has not been made too dense the plants will happily grow through the framework. The proof of successful staking is firstly that it keeps the plant upright when in full flower and secondly that it becomes more or less invisible as the foliage comes through.
The pea-sticks become too brittle after one growing season so they are removed in Autumn, shredded, and used to make compost. If you visit Nymans in May you might see the gardeners staking and if you return later in the year you’ll be able to judge for yourself how successful we’ve been.
All in a day’s work
Author: Jon Keen