Hellebore Appreciation Society – at Ashwood Nurseries Open Day

The Teddington Gardener


Ashwood Nurseries are world-famous for their Hellebores and the range of hybrids they create is quite remarkable for their breadth and beauty. My timing for this visit was perfect as I was travelling down from Manchester to London, and this was an excellent stopover, just to the west of Wolverhampton (for them, close to a big population base but in quite secluded rural location). And as I knew, there was an Open Day, with behind the scenes tours around the glasshouses where the breeding program happens. Marvellous.


The colours range from pure white to deep plum and slate, passing through pale lemons, deeper golds, pinks, peaches, ruby and claret red, jade greens – with spots and dots, stripes, blotches and contrasting veins, picotee edging (a fine line at the edge of the tepals) while the inner ring of nectaries (the petals, really) provide further interest, in green, gold, purple, red…

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Prunus serrula – the competition from Kew Gardens

The Teddington Gardener


Prunus serrula, a young specimen just inside the Victoria Gate of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew –

Prunus serrula is rather better known, I think, than the Himalayan Cherry, Prunus himalaica, with its darker glossy bark. It is a small but vigorous deciduous tree of which the main attraction is the glossy, copper-red bark. The leaves are narrow and willow-like and the small, white, single flowers are produced at the same time as the leaves towards the end of Spring. Introduced by Ernest Wilson from western China in 1908. A chance to compare and contrast with the darker hues of the Himalayan Cherry I saw yesterday at the RHS Gardens Wisley. Hmm, which IS my favourite?

I make no apologies for taking every chance to call into the Gardens at Kew. While some of the highlights are naturally going to be a distance from the main gates, a little…

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The Teddington Gardener

DSCF4865 Betula – no species given

DSCF4878 River Birch, Betula nigra, N.America

DSCF4912 Betula albo-sinenis – Chinese Red-Barked Birch

DSCF4920 Chinese red-barked birch, Betula albo-sinensis var septentrionalis

DSCF4922 Zelkovia schneideriana, from China

DSCF5098 Castanea sativa, Sweet or Spanish Chestnut

DSCF4896 Fallen Eucaplytus


DSCF5017 Bishop Pine, Picea muricata
California, NW Mexico

DSCF4632 Stone Pine, Pinus Pinea – 1969

DSCF4758 Salix alba – White Willow

A walk through Kew, enjoying a bright chill day that the BBC weatherman assured me would hold nothing but rain upon more rain. Plus there was a parking space by the Victoria Gate entrance, so there was no excuse to call in. My rules!

I’ve recently explored  (deep breath..) the woodland area by the Temple of Aeolus, the Rock Garden and Alpine glasshouse, grass borders, family beds, the rose garden and Palm House, the Japanese Landscape and the Minka House, by the Bamboo garden and the Rhododendron Walk – the Xstrata treetop walk, Mediterranean Landscape and seen…

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Another day, another visit to Kew Gardens – and not one, two, three nor four – but five Glasshouses and #barkwatch continues – deep joy …

The Teddington Gardener


Solandra maxima Solandra maxima

Arenga undulatifolia Arenga undulatifolia

Into the Palm House first, on a rather dull morning (I missed both brilliantly bright days earlier this week, one at Petersham Nurseries, the other being a Good Boy and doing some housework, washing and much-needed shopping). But hey, it’s still looking grand and my kitchen floor is shiny shiny clean.

The Palm House was beautifully warm and dripping with moisture and the two robins I saw provided a very beautiful bird song duet.


Chill and still a little iced over, the Lake was an almost perfect mirror.


Perfectly mown, the terrace and Rose Garden left and right – and the Pagoda (below) through another long-sighted avenue.


Grass clippings and the most enormous palm frond in this larger-than-your-usual-skip …


No flowers of course (despite our curiously mild autumn) in the rose garden, but some beautiful displays of hips – Rosa Bonica ’82 (above and below) putting…

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Hip, Hip, Hooray (again…) More from the Rose Garden at Kew

The Teddington Gardener

DSCF2930 A glorious show from Bonica

Flowers there are in the Rose Garden at Kew- and a real treat they were too – but this is what I was expecting – a grand show of Rose Hips. Well, actually that is not strictly true, I wasn’t anticipating this brilliant extravaganza from the modern pink shrub rose, Bonica (above and below). It is a beautiful and very hardworking shrub – I saw an amazing example in Waterperry Gardens in the summer that was simply World Class, so full of flower it was. But I didn’t know it could give this kind of show. Showstopping.

DSCF2931 Bonica

DSCF2934 Bonica

DSCF2889 Rosa californica

DSCF2887 Rosa californica

Elsewhere, the wild rose, Rosa californica, was giving a rich and intense performance too..

DSCF2889 Rosa californica

Altogether more pale and interesting, the Pemberton creation, Penelope, with a more muted, chalky palette

DSCF2900 Penelope

DSCF2902 Penelope

With leaf and hip, Rosa virginiana was crimson and…

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RHS Wisley – life and death in the Surrey hills… Hydrangeas, Camellias and Hellebores, mostly, Sorbus and Malus, Cornus, Salix and Rubus, Acer, Rhododendron, Chimonathus, Henry Moore and a Squirrel

The Teddington Gardener

IMG_1698Acer griseum, lauded for its peeling bark, caught here in the chill morning sunlight on the slopes of Battleston Hill at the RHS gardens at Wisley. The gardens feature the remnants of many fine plants, dying beautifully, hydrangeas foremost in this class, as well as the heralds of a new season, with the earliest hellebores and camellias adding vibrant colour to the landscape.

IMG_1532A fine stand of Hydrangea paniculata Vanille Fraise – photographed in full colour earlier in the year and still forming a significant presence in the winter garden.

IMG_1541IMG_1557IMG_1562Some species maintain their bulk, substantial elements in the gardens still – others give up almost everything, a fine tracery of veins all that remains –

IMG_1706IMG_1531IMG_1514Work in the big herbaceous borders, you can see the bulk of the hydrangeas on the slopes in the distance

IMG_1521IMG_1918Bare stems and bone white, but by no means bleak – Rubus biflorus has…

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My first look at RHS Wisley (this year) – Colourful winter stems, Alpine and Glasshouse finery and more…

The Teddington Gardener


I’m fortunate that the vast array of garden landscapes at RHS Wisley in Surrey are a short drive from Teddington HQ and that I can be as frequent a visitor as I am, without ever, ever being bored – there is always something, whatever the season, to delight and inspire.

This unseasonably mild weather (about to properly hit the skids with a decidedly chilly weekend to come) has meant that the Daphne, Camellia, Rhododendron and Witch Hazel have been a colourful and in their turn fragrant feature for several weeks and with this in mind, on this first visit of 2016, steered away from Seven Acre Woods and the meandering paths of Battleston Hill that I traversed just before Christmas.

A bright clear afternoon meant that the temperatures were already heading south, and so after enjoying the colourful twiggery by the lake, took to the Alpine House for a bejewelled…

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Kew Gardens starts the year with both colour and scent. @kewgardens – nothing dull here…

The Teddington Gardener

IMG_4853 Coloured dogwoods, Cornus – Midwinter Fire, C. sanguinea Alba and Flavermimea – a perfect position to catch late afternoon sun and reflect in the waters

IMG_4863 The Temple of Aeolus with dogwoods reflected in the lake

IMG_4850 The Museum with a changing program of displays

IMG_4847 The Palm House backlit by the late but not warm (oh no!) afternoon sun

IMG_4502 Chinese Guardian Lions

IMG_4503and the Museum reflected in the lake, late afternoon sun

IMG_4860Winter Box, Sarcococca, heavily fragrant by the Victoria Gate complex.

IMG_4489 Cyclamen coum beneath Malus Sentinel

IMG_4515 An unnamed Camellia (else the label is buried among the foliage)

IMG_4518 Amazingly, my first Daffodils on the Mount

IMG_4527 Hamamelis x intermedia Pallida

IMG_4532 Witch Hazel Pallida

IMG_4543 A whole lot of mulching going on in the Woodland

IMG_4547 Sinofranchetia chinensis – will have to look this one up

IMG_4555 Disporum cantoniense – a small bush at the head of the Rockery

IMG_4552Meanwhile, in the Davies Alpine House

IMG_4626 The Grass…

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