Category Archives: Plant collections

Here be Giants!

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.


Geranium maderense

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









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Filed under Botany, Half-hardies, Macronesia, Perennials, Plant collections, Plants and Planting, Uncategorized

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.


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.

107 Car park

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

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Filed under Botany, Garden History, Perennials, Plant collections, Plants and Planting

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

Indian Summers and Chile Autumns

October is off to a mild start this year and this gives some of our rarer plants at Nymans a chance to shine.

Indian Summer.

In our Indian summer border we have a rare shrub called Rostrinincula dependens whose delicate mauve flowers have just started to open upon pendulous racemes.

rostrinincula 4

If the weather stays fine the flowers should open fully serving as a nectar bar for insects and providing contrasting flower form and colour in the border.Here it is mingling with pink Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’, Aster ‘Purple Cloud’ and the variegated grass foliage of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’.

Rostrinincula 2

Chile Autumns.

As the summer eats into autumn, rarities from our Chilean plant collection have a final flourish.Greigia sphacelata is a rare pineapple relative from the Chilean Andes with architectural foliage.


Our specimen was planted 3 years ago and flowered for the first time this year in September. The flowers are rather lost at the base of the foliage but I’m hoping that the flowers will ripen into fruit (known as chupones in Chile) as they are said to be sweet and delicious. Fingers crossed!


Another Chilean rarity is Myrseugenia leptospermoides which is a small, evergreen, shrub in the Myrtle family that is endangered in it’s native habitat. This year it flowered prolifically.


The close-up below shows it flowering and fruiting simultaneously. This plant has provided us with quite a few seedlings that I hope to transplant to other locations in the garden.


Also from Chile hails a plant called Bomarea caldassii. This twining perennial climber is related to Alstroemeria. It’s stems will snake their way through the lower branches of trees and shrubs and then terminate in a multi-flowered head of bright scarlet tubular flowers. Exotic and hardy.

bomarea 3

Our job as gardeners is to try and locate the many and diverse plants we grow in their best locations for them to perform but it does help if the weather can give us a helping hand, extending the growing season for as long as possible.

Author: Jon Keen, Gardener.

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Filed under Herbaceous Borders, Plant collections, Plants and Planting

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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Filed under Botany, Garden History, Plant collections, Plants and Planting, Wisterias