Posts Tagged ‘“Walled Gardens”’

After wandering in the smaller of Rowallane’s walled gardens, it was time to explore the larger, main garden – and what a treasure trove of flowering plants that turned out to be.  We’ll look at just some of them in this journal entry.

Arched entrance to the Main Walled Garden at Rowallane.

One entrance to this garden is through an arch that gives a view along an ‘avenue’ of plants leading the eye to the house beyond. On the right, surrounded by a low box hedge, is the vegetable and herb garden. On the left, a path leads off to a series of areas that give access to a variety of flowering plants in this collection that have their origins in so many different parts the world.

The Nepal Poppy, Meconopsis napaulensis

The first flower to catch my attention was one of the rarer Himalayan Poppies, this beautiful Nepal Poppy,  Meconopsis napaulensis.  It’s name and a few cultivation facts were given on a sign beside the flowers. I do love gardens that give the names!  This plant is distinctly different from other Himalayan Poppies in that it has a yellow flower and comes from a small geographical range in central Nepal.

Nepal Poppy, Meconopsis napaulensis

Because of the rain, many of these tender flowers were drooping, giving us a good look at the back of the petals with their delicate veining and ruffled edges. Highlighted by rain drops, they were a true delight.  No wonder this flower has another common name, The Satin Poppy.

Tibetan White Poppy, Meconopsis baileyi Alba

Another rarely seen form of the delicate Himalayan Poppy is the Tibetan White Poppy, Meconopsis baileyi Alba. With its pure white, silky petals surrounding a boss of golden stamens, it’s a stunningly beautiful flower, especially with added rain drops. Because of constant reclassification of plants, this Tibetan white poppy, now known as Meconopsis baileyi Alba, was formerly known as Meconopsis betonicifolia Alba.

Unfortunately, we can’t grow these beauties in our Canberra garden. We have the cold they need but they do not survive hot summers – and we have hot summers. So we took the time to really enjoy them in this garden.

Himalayan Blue Poppy, Meconopsis sp.

More familiar to most who enjoy wandering in northern British gardens, is the Himalayan Blue Poppy, the national flower of Bhutan.  It was first introduced into Britain at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Spring show in 1926 after the great mountaineer, George Leigh Mallory, saw it when he was in the Himalayas making an attempt on Mt Everest in 1922. But they are rather difficult to grow and do best in northern parts of England, in Scotland and in Ireland where conditions are closer to those of the plant’s native habitat; something gardeners need to take into account.

Meconopsis sp.

Not all Meconopsis plants are the same and there seems to be much debate as to what constitutes a particular ‘named’ species. The reason, I’m told, is that under the right growing conditions, many of these plants quite easily hybridise with each other and produce viable seed.  I’ve noticed over the years, that more and more gardeners want to try to grow these beautiful poppies, and who can blame them.   New varieties and cultivars of Meconopsis seem to be appearing in gardens each year. This delightful one has its blue petals blushed with soft pink. I think it’s my favourite… but then, they’re all delightful, aren’t they?

Himalayan Poppies growing beneath a huge rose ‘tree’

Some of the blue Himalayan Poppies were growing in the shadow of an enormous rose ‘tree’ – for want of a better description.  It must have been growing in this garden for many years. Spectacular is the only word to describe it!

The stables viewed across the garden.

Although this is not a specialised rose garden, these old fashioned roses have been used to great effect at Rowallane, especially to help frame a view across the garden, like this one, where the focal point is the tower of the stable block.

Red roses in the rain!

And what a show those roses made. Simply beautiful, and fortunately, not destroyed or even marked by the rain. They are hardy survivors.

White Bleeding Hearts, Lamprocapnos spectabilis Alba

Other flowers to catch my eye were not nearly as ‘blowsy’ as the roses. These little beauties are called White Bleeding Hearts or Lamprocapnos spectabilis Alba – what a name for such small, delicate flowers that droop in an ordered line from their arching stem.They are also sometimes called Dutchman’s Trousers or Lyre Flower – both quite apt namesNeedless to say, the original ‘bleeding hearts’ were red  heart-shaped flowers with white tips, native to eastern Asia, from Siberia to Japan. They  were introduced to England in about 1840. Plant breeders have since developed this white cultivar, which I have seen a few times, and a golden one, known as”Gold Heart’ which I have yet to see.

A tubular Rhododendron, Rhododendron cinnabarinum

In one corener of the garden is a very old tree, one of the tubular Rhododendrons. Another plant native to the Himalaya range in Asia, this plant exudes a year-round cinnamon-and-camphor aroma, hence the species name, cinnabarinum.

Bicolour flowers of Rhododendron cinnabarinum

The flower colour of Rhododendron cinnabarinum is known to vary from plant to plant, from scarlet to yellow. This one is a bicolour form.  The nectar of this species is reputed to be the most poisonous of all rhododendrons.

Turk’s Cap Lily, Lilium Martagon sp.

Underneath, and sheltered by the Tubular Rhododendron tree, are several varieties of Martagon Lilies or Turk’s cap lilies, Lilium martagon. The native region for these plants is quite broad, from Asian countries like Mongolia and Korea right across to eastern France. I used to see them in mountain meadows in southern Switzerland.

Martagon Lilies

These lilies grow on long stems – thirty to forty flowers on one stem. In this garden, the delicate lilies are set off beautifully by the large leaved plant behind. In this way, they don’t get lost against the creamy colour of the wall.

(The lovely white flowering form, Lilium Martagon var. Alba, was in the smaller walled garden and has been shown in the previous journal entry.)

Striped Cobra Lily or Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema candississimum

On a relatively bare patch of ground,  Arisaema plants were popping up everywhere. A member of the Arum Lily family, this plant originated in western China – in Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan – at altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000 m.

The inflorescence doesn’t appear above the bare ground until late spring or early summer – so the place where they grow needs to be carefully marked by the gardener to make sure that a spade or fork doesn’t accidentally find their ‘resting’ place! Each inflorescence is accompanied by a leaf that is divided into three broad ‘leaflets’.  After the leaf opens, it begins to curl over to protect the spathe. Later, in autumn, the leaves turn yellow, giving a touch of autumnal colour to the bed, before the plant retreats underground again for the winter. The plant’s tubers multiply like potatoes, so a few plants will soon provide for many more new plants. A host of these in flower must be a real sight. We were a little too early to witness that. But the individual spathes were beautiful – even if a long way down to photograph!

A front view of the spathe of an Arisaema candississimum

I’m not at all surprised that this has been a popular garden plant since it was introduced from Yunnan in China into England by the renowned plant collector, George Forrest, in 1914.  The beautifully striped, hood-like spathe surrounds a long thin spadix. Right down inside are the very small flowers. The water droplets along the edge just added to the delicate beauty of this plant.

The back view of the spathe of an Arisaema candississimum

This was, I think, my favourite plant in a garden that is filled with so many wonderful plants! I couldn’t help but delight in those perfectly aligned markings and delicate colours – yet another wonderful variation in the fascinating plant world.

And there are so many variations, aren’t there?  And I have photos and stories still to share about many other plants that we saw in Rowallane’s delightful walled garden.  So, I’ll leave this now and add another garden journal soon. I hope you enjoy… and don’t forget that you can click on each photo to have a larger, clearer view.   J

Photography © JT of jtdytravels

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Today’s gardeners, if they have the right conditions, can grow plants that came originally from all corners of the world.  That’s thanks in large part to visionary, pioneer plantsmen like Hugh Armytage Moore of Rowallane. This garden is his legacy and to wander here, is to take a world tour of plants!

A quiet space in Rowallane’s walled garden

The walled gardens are large enough to have trees that form a gracious backdrop to the smaller plants. It’s a garden to take your time in, to wander and to sit and contemplate the amazing variety of plants. That seat did look inviting.. but, unfortunately, a to sit there was not possible in the rain!

The lawn area framed by plants.

The central lawn area gives this garden an openness, a space. It allows you to not only enjoy each flowering plant up close, but also to see them further away in their setting against the trees.  And looking through these spaces is an invitation wander along more paths, to explore further.

Rogersia sp.

There are so many plants that captured the eye like these Rogersias with their panicles of flowers rising above strongly veined leaves.

Rogersia sp.

Rogersia leaves are as photogenic as the flowers themselves!

Rogersia sp.

The flowers of Rogersia come in various shades from red to pink, and cream to white except for Rogersia nepalensis which are a greeny yellow. This is yet another plant that comes originally from eastern Asia, most species being found in China, Tibet and Nepal. In their native habitats they thrive in soil that never dries out, growing by streams and in shady moist woodland. No wonder they grow well in Ireland!

Rogersia sp.

Grouping different colours of Rogersias together makes quite a show. They are indeed a very handsome plant.

Giant Knapweed,   Centaurea macrocephala 

Another plant that I hadn’t encountered before is the Giant Knapweed, Centaurea macrocephala.  These are rather tall plants, up to one and a half meters, with flowers on ram rod stiff stems. They are very hard to miss!   The shaggy-headed, yellow, thistle-like flowers emerge from their bracts in early summer through to late summer.  In the wild, the many species of this genus, Centaurea, are found only north of the equator and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere, particularly in the the Middle East.

Giant Knapweed, Centaurea macrocephala

Although the yellow flowers were fascinating, it was without doubt, the balls of  sculptured, glowing bronze balls of bracts that really attract attention. They add such an interesting textural component to the garden and, I’ve no doubt, look very good dried in flower arrangements. The species name of this particular Centaurea is macrocephala and that’s derived from two Greek words:  makros meaning ‘large’ and kephale, meaning ‘head’. Very apt.

When researching this plant in the horticulture literature, I learned that the botanical name for this plant, Centaurea, comes from the name of a noble mythical Centaur, Chiron. I searched further.  It appears that, in Greek mythology, this centaur, half- man and half-horse, taught music, horse skills, hunting, martial arts and medicine to several of the great Greek mythical heroes.  He is credited with inventing medicine. And in one story, Chiron cured a festering arrow wound, in one of said heroes, by covering the wound with the flowers of a plant from this genus.  And for that, the genus not only got its name, Centaurea, but also its reputation for having great healing properties.  I wonder if modern medicine has discovered this!

Centaurea montana

There are many species of Centaurea. Another one growing in this garden is the lovely blue cornflower-like Centaurea montana, with its solitary fringed blue flower with a reddish centre.  The natural habitat of Centaurea montana is, not surprisingly, in mountain areas, particularly in the more southerly mountain ranges of Europe where I have seen it in the wild. It has also become established in the wild in the UK, Scandinavia and North America, but in those places it is as a ‘garden escapee’. It has several common names, including perennial cornflower, mountain cornflower, bachelor’s button, montane knapweed or mountain bluet, so once again, the botanical name is the most useful descriptor.

It’s very similar to the more commonly known and grown blue cornflower, Centaurea cyanus.   The difference is that Centaurea montana  is an evergreen, perennial plant that has a reddish centre and just a single flower head (rarely three).  By contrast, Centaurea cyanus has many flower heads, is blue in the centre and is an annual. The blue cornflower, once a common sight in cornfields, hence its common name, is now, as a result of modern farm practices, rarely seen in the wild although it is widely grown as a garden plant.  In this garden of uncommon plants, Centaurea montana prevailed.

Another garden view of the old stables tower

The tower of the old stables is always a focal point in this garden. The yellow flowers bordering the path here are Golden Garlic,  Allium moly.

A border of Golden Garlic,  Allium moly

That bright yellow of Golden Garlic, Allium moly,  made quite a statement bordering the main path back to the bottom entrance arch, yet another focal point in the garden.   This perennial plant, also sometimes called Lily Leek, is primarily found in Southern France and Spain.

This was another plant in the garden that had a ‘name plate’ with information notes.  From that we learned that the bulb of Allium moly is edible and is used for some medicinal purposes. It is used in this garden as a long-lasting, wonderful sunny border. It is easy to grow and naturalizes quickly, increasing happily in the sun in most garden soils. So prolific are these plants that the gardeners here deadhead the flowers before the seeds set – a most necessary measure to help control its spread to parts of the garden where it is not wanted!  The golden flowers make excellent cut flowers.

Golden Garlic, Allium Moly

Another mythical story refers to this plant. One of the greatest Greek storytellers was Homer and in his epic, ‘The Odyssey’, moly was the name of the drug used by Hermes to help Odysseus to become resistant to Circe’s magic spells.  She had planned to turn Odysseus into a pig, as she had already done to some of his men. As with many good stories, once Circe realised that Odysseus was resistant to her magic, she fell in love with him and released his men from her spell.

Crane’s Bill, Geranium sp.

A plant much used in the Irish gardens that we visited is the Geranium, commonly called Crane’s Bill.  With a mounding growth habit, interesting cleft leaves and often beautifully veined flower petals, Geraniums are a wonderful addition to any garden. With something over 400 species to choose from, gardeners can add a touch of colour and beauty with these plants that originate mostly in the eastern part of the Mediterranean.

The name of this plant causes some confusion with another plant commonly called Geranium, the Pelargonium… the type that is grown in such profusion in window boxes in places like Switzerland and Austria. It appears that Linnaeus, the man who gave us the binomial way of naming plants, originally included both of these types of plants in the one genus, Geranium. In 1789 they were separated into two genera but still in the family known as Geraniaceae.  But the common name geranium stayed in usage for both.   Confusing?  Yes. But there is a difference if we look at the flowers.

Geranium flowers, as in the photo above, are radially symmetrical with five very similar petals. The next photo of a species in the pelargonium family, shows flowers that have two upper petals very different from the three lower petals. The flowers do look quite different, it’s just the name that confuses.

Pelargonium sp.

In this garden the true Geranium species are grown in the garden beds… the Pelargonium species were grown in pots by the stables.

Peony sp.

A little further along the main path were a group of peonies, those wonderful flowers that look like they have put on diaphonous party dresses and are just waiting for a handsome prince to take them to a royal ball, there to waltz the night away!  It was not a surprise to me to learn that the genus Paeonia is rather unique in that it is the only genus in the flowering plant family of Paeoniaceae, a name first used by Friedrich K L Rudolphi in 1830. I think he must have been a romantic at heart and fell under the spell of these beautiful flowers, just as I always do. They are unique. Peonies are native across much of the northern hemisphere in Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America but have now been bred to grow in many parts of the world, including our own garden in Canberra.

Peony sp.

Another beautiful peony, staying out of the worst of the rain under an its ‘umbrella’ of foliage.

Peony sp.

And another. They are just so lovely.

And here’s another flower-related Greek legend, this one is associated with the name Peony or (Paeony). The story goes that Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing had a pupil named Paeon. But Paeon must have been a little too bright for his teacher’s comfort and Asclepius became very jealous. However, before Asclepius could take out his wrath on the young Paeon, the great god Zeus stepped in and turned Paeon into a peony flower. And, interestingly, Peonies have long been used in traditional medicines of Korea, China and Japan.

Comfrey, Symphytum sp.

And while mentioning the medicinal properties of plants, Comfrey, Symphytum sp,  has been cultivated and valued for it’s medicinal uses for over 2,000 years by various cultures in its native areas of Europe and Asia.  It is said to have been used as a blood coagulant, a treatment for maladies of the lung, and as a poultice to aid in the healing of wounds and broken bones. Consumed as a tea, comfrey is said to treat a variety of internal ailments. I just love its beautiful blue bell-like flowers that are even more lovely when touched by the rain… again, that bonus of walking in a garden in the rain.

Campanula sp.

Another favourite genus of mine, grown in many gardens these days, is Campanula. And there are many stories associated with these delightful blue bell like flowers… especially in places like Ireland where they are connected to ‘the good folk’ – the fairies. It is said that people did not dig them out of their gardens – just in case they should offend the fairies who may sleep in these bells or use them as goblets to collect the dew. And in North America, the Haida Indians cautioned their children not to pick these flowers, or it would rain. Perhaps the Irish should start to pick these bells to STOP the rain!

Raindrops on Delphinium sp. flower buds.

And rain it certainly did, while we visited this beautiful garden of Rowallane.  As the rain grew heavier, we had to finally give up, take one more photo of raindrops on petals, this time on Delphinium buds, and make a quick retreat to the car.

It had been a fascinating morning in a garden that is not only a wonderful legacy to Hugh Armytage Moore, but also a tribute to the gardeners of the National Trust who maintain this important garden with such care and diligence – and I daresay, with a great love for the plants they grow.

Photography © JT for jtdytravels

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