Pam Hadrill

Pam Hadrill

We heard recently of the death of a past member of Kent Group, Pam Hadrill. She will be remembered by some of our longer standing members for her beautiful garden surrounding a converted oast house in Otford. Pam died on Christmas Day just three days short of her 103rd birthday. She was gardening well into her nineties and it was only a fall when she was 97 that forced her to down tools. Obviously, she was a real hardy planter. Kent Group members visited her garden in July 1994 and Anne Stephney wrote a delightful report for our newsletter, which I reproduce below. Unfortunately, we didn’t all have cameras back then so I don’t have any images to go with it but Anne’s descriptions will, I hope, conjure up the atmosphere. Pam also opened her garden to the public for many years for the NGS so many people will have seen and enjoyed her lovely garden.

There will be a private family cremation on the morning of the 24th January followed by a Memorial Service at 2.30 pm at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Otford. All are welcome.
The funeral directors are Henry Paul at 10, High Street, Pembury.

 

Anne Stephney’s report from our Newsletter August 1994
“Pam Hadrill’s garden at Little Oast has such a feeling of peace and tranquility. No list of plants or layout description could even begin to convey the atmosphere of this very intimate place.
Masses of pots, even some in borders, and plenty of sitting areas seem to be the secret ingredients, plus a lot of tender loving care from Pam.
Potted fuchsias and hostas clothe the paved walk around the oast. A gently upward sloping garden, shallow steps lead to a paved and planted terrace area. Here a birch shades the seating and pots, and a honeysuckle in full bloom repays the freedom it has been allowed by scrambling down and across the earth. Semi-circular metal trellis (quite new, but much credit to Pam’s design skills it seems at one with everything else) provides support for a thriving golden hop and a vine. The central gap in the trellis gives access to the main lawn and wide borders.
A little further on and rest is again encouraged by a summerhouse cleverly designed by Pam to ensure complete shelter from any wind. Beyond that a wide screen of well established Rosa glauca, grown from cuttings, hides a neatly productive vegetable garden.
Seclusion at the top of the garden is provided with more seating and a statue overlooking a small pond surrounded by ferns, an acer and other shade lovers.
Widely curving, shallow steps approach the summerhouse at the top of the garden, placed centrally where one can sit and look back down the length of the garden towards the oast. The steps are adorned simply with the small ivy, which chooses to crawl along them. Beside the summerhouse a very pretty Stephanandra incisa tumbles down the sides of its urn. Lucky plant; Pam says she bought it at a nursery because it was dying.
Pam’s garden, like its owner, is quite charming and remains one of my favourites. Many thanks to Pam and her daughter Penny for their welcome, the opportunity to visit the garden again and the teas.”

Following the publication of this post, Kent Group member Bennet Smith got in touch to say that he had visited Pam’s garden and taken photographs. Here is a gallery showing just what a stunning garden she created. Many thanks to Bennet for letting us share his photographs.

 

 

David Way

David Way

We have recently heard the sad news that David Way died on 9 October. He was one of our founder members and did a great deal to guide us to become the successful group we have been over the last 30 years. It was he who started organizing garden tours and we are still visiting gardens outside the county boundary today. David was generous with his wide knowledge and encouraged us with his enthusiasm for gardens, plants and the people who grow them. He is one of the people to whom we refer when talking about our plants, “Oh, I first had that from David Way”. How better to remember someone than that?

There will, of course, be a full obituary in the Winter Newsletter.

 

 

HPS Kent Top 30 Gallery

HPS Kent Top 30 Gallery

To mark the HPS Kent group’s 30th Anniversary in 2018 we asked our members to vote for their personal Top 5 plants. This was not restricted to herbaceous perennials but could encompass the whole range of plants from trees, shrubs, perennials to bulbs and corms. This proved to be a very interesting exercise and quite a challenge. The main remark from our members was how difficult it was to come up with a definitive Top 5 and that it was liable to change daily! The other taxing problem was to think about plants from other seasons of the year and not to focus on the current season when deciding the Top 5.

Once the votes were in a list of the final Top 30 was compiled and we then published the list one at a time on the website with a short description and information. Number 1 was unveiled at our April meeting.

Here is a gallery of all the plants in the Top 30 in one place.

A tiny treasure

A tiny treasure

And so we come to Number 1. The plant that has been chosen by more members than any other to be in their Top 5 ‘Couldn’t-Do-Without Plants’ is – Cyclamen coum.

It might be small in stature – it is the smallest plant in our Top 30 – but it’s certainly big on character. It flowers during the harshest part of the year and puts up with wind, rain, snow and frost. It can survive being covered in snow for weeks and quickly throws off the effects of frost as soon as the temperature rises. It provides welcome colour at the dullest time, in glorious drifts if you have the room to let it spread.

The leaves are kidney-shaped to rounded or heart-shaped and can be plain green or marbled with silver. The flowers are variously described as dumpy, tubby, chubby or squat – I think we get the picture! – with almost round petals. They range in colour from white, through pink to magenta with a blotch at the base of each lobe and a paler ‘eye’. The leaves appear in the autumn and are fully developed before winter sets in. The buds nestle under the leaves for many weeks and then expand to bloom in the new year. It is happy in partial shade in a well-drained soil under deciduous shrubs and trees.

Cyclamen coum grows in the wild around the Black Sea, from Bulgaria through northern Turkey to the Caucasus Mountains, with a southern outlier in south-east Turkey south to Lebanon and Israel. It is very variable in the wild, with many subtle variations of flower and leaf size and colour across its range.

In cultivation it also covers a wide range of forms, some of which have been selected and named for a particular characteristic. So we can choose silver, pewter or plain leaves, crimson, magenta or pure white flowers and just about anything in between. And they will self sow. Generally, they don’t self-pollinate so Graham Rice advises buying two plants as near identical as possible so that, when they cross, the seedlings are most likely to be similar. Assuming, of course, that that is what you want. You might prefer a tapestry of different colours and patterns, in which case, you can put distinctly different forms together and watch what happens.

And so to the name – Cyclamen coum. We saw in our Top 30 Number 11, Cyclamen hederifolium, that cyclamen is from the Greek, kyklos, circle. Most references state that coum means, from the island of Cos in the Aegean Sea. However, Cyclamen coum does not grow on Cos! How did this error occur? Apparently, coum can also mean ‘from Coa’. Coa was the name used for the eastern area of Celicia, an ancient region in what is now eastern Turkey, where, importantly, Cyclamen coum does grow.

Cyclamen coum is one of the treasures of the winter garden that no one should be without and, obviously, our members agree wholeheartedly. They have put this at the very top of our Top 30.

 

HPS Kent Top 30. What’s it all about?

 

Sweet daphne

Sweet daphne

It is February and I am visiting the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. The sun is shining and, although there is rain forecast for later, the sky is blue with a few white clouds. I could not have wished for a better day. As I walk towards the Winter Garden I detect a slight scent on the air, which makes me catch my breath. When I arrive at the entrance I stop. There are large bushes of Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ in full bloom on either side. I close my eyes and take a deep breath of that glorious perfume.

Why is it so difficult to describe a scent or to be able to conjure it in your mind? If you think about a rose you can visualize any of the many roses you have seen. If someone says delphinium, you can picture those wonderful blue spires. But imagining a perfume seems impossible. However, just one whiff of a certain smell can transport you back to a particular place and time, unlocking memories you thought were lost. But, try, if you can, to remember how it feels to take in that daphne fragrance.

Daphne was the Greek name for the bay tree or laurel, Laurus nobilis, and was later transferred to this genus, which is in the family Thymeleaeceae. Daphne bholua is a deciduous or evergreen shrub from the Himalaya, with sweetly scented flowers, deep reddish-mauve in bud, opening white in January and February. Its hardiness and whether or not the leaves fall varies according to altitude. D. b. ‘Gurkha’ is a very hardy deciduous form collected by Major Tom Spring-Smyth at 3,200m in east Nepal in 1962. Again, it is very richly scented and this introduction greatly increased the popularity of the species. The plant that our members have voted to second place is Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. This very hardy form originated as a seedling of ‘Gurkha’, raised at the Hillier Nurseries by their propagator, Alan Postill, in 1982. It is evergreen or semi-evergreen, flowering when in full leave with blooms that are larger than those of ‘Gurkha’ but with an equally powerful fragrance.

Unfortunately, I don’t grow this plant and must visit other gardens to get an annual fix, so I envy our members who have the pleasure, all through the winter, of having it very close at hand. They rate it very highly, so highly, in fact, that it’s reached Number 2 in our Top 30.

HPS Kent Top 30. What’s it all about?

 

a giant of a grass

a giant of a grass

Stipa gigantea, commonly known as golden oats, is in the family Poaceae. It is the largest stipa but, by no means, a giant grass. It is, however, a giant in its beauty and the spectacle it makes in the garden. Narrow leaves form a low evergreen mound about 60 cm high. It blooms in early summer, the huge, golden open panicles held high on stems to about 2 m tall. After flowering the panicles fade slightly in colour but remain looking great right into the winter when the stems can be cut down. The name Stipa is from the Greek, stuppe meaning tow, alluding to the flaxen appearance of the feathery awns of the original species, tow being the coarse and broken part of flax or hemp prepared for spinning. It gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Stipa gigantea looks good in many positions in the garden but particularly placed either side of a pathway, entrance or garden feature, where it can provide a highlight without being overpowering. This quality can also be used to good effect when it’s planted where it can be seen through, allowing glimpses of the garden beyond.

It can be found growing wild in Spain, Portugal and Morocco on dry, rocky hillsides so needs similar conditions in the garden, a well-drained soil in a sunny position. Being evergreen it does not require cutting back annually as we do with grasses such as miscanthus. Combing through to remove old foliage and trimming the leaves a little, as well as cutting out the old flowering stems, should be all that’s necessary to keep a clump looking good.

Then you can sit back and enjoy this spectacular plant that members rate very highly. It is the only grass in our Top 30, which is quite a responsibility. But I think this giant is up to the task!

 

HPS Kent Top 30. What’s it all about?