Contributed by Ginny Oakes

On March 1, 2017

February frolics

frolic – A playful and lively movement or activity, from Dutch vrolijk ‘merry, cheerful’. There was standing room only at our February meeting at Lower Hardres on Sunday when Steve Edney from The Salutation Gardens gave a talk entitled Succession Planting. He could have gone through the seasons from spring to winter in an orderly manner telling us what he plants or what’s at its best at any particular time. But he didn’t. He started in October and then flitted from season to season and from one part of the garden to another showing how he gets the most out of every patch, detouring into personal, often amusing, stories and experiences to explain his gardening philosophy. It was a most entertaining lecture and I think ‘frolic’ is the very best word to describe it. I’m sure there will be lots of members planning a visit to Sandwich this year to see the real thing. The plant sale was very well stocked and doing a brisk trade and the tea and cake as welcome and delicious as always. We asked members to bring contributions for the display and bring them you did! I’m only sorry I haven’t got photographs of the whole display – I spent too long chatting! It was fantastic and we had to bring out more tables for an overflow display so thank you all very much.  
There were, of course, lots of snowdrops and I’ll do a separate blog for them. But there were many other plants making a wonderful winter miscellany. We had a huge branch of daphne, which had no label but we thought must be Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. It perfumed the air with its beautiful fragrance joined by Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, Cornus mas and wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox. The member who brought the cornus told me that she had to wait three years for flowers but another member was even more patient, waiting seven years for the wintersweet to bloom. She added that it was well worth it for the glorious perfume.
Chimonanthus praecox
Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

You can see in the photo a beautiful blue vase of a most unusual shrub, Ribes laurifolium Rosemoor form. This plant was unknown to me until last week when I saw it at Anglesey Abbey but in this form, with larger flowers and tidier growth, it is a choice selection – and it’s hermaphrodite so you can have berries with only one plant.

Clematis cirrhosa var balearica

I know some of our members get up to some strange antics but releasing a TV aerial from the clutches of a clematis by cutting it off (the clematis, that is) whilst hanging out of an upstairs window could be judged unwise. Having liberated the aerial and captured the clematis, C. cirrhosa var balearica, she brought some of it along to add to our display.

A head of the early-flowering, pale pink Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ reminded us of all the many varieties that will flower throughout the spring.

We had Cyclamen coum in a variety of colours and a pot of Iris ‘Natasha’, a reticulata type, ice-blue, nearly white, with a yellow mark on the falls. Also in pots were three plants that need to be grown in a cold greenhouse.

Narcissus romieuxii
Narcissus romieuxii needs a dry rest in summer, something it gets naturally in its native Morocco, where it grows in cedar and oak forest. The yellow-flowered Muscari macrocarpum can be grown outside but also needs a dry summer rest. It is a native of Greece, especially the Aegean Islands and Crete, and western Turkey, growing in crevices and stony scrub and is, the member pointed out, scented. Lachenalia bowkeri, from Western Cape, South Africa, needs frost-free protection.
There was a pot of Liriope spicata ‘Gin-Ryu’ (syn. L.s. ‘Silver Dragon’) which was new to me. It is an evergreen perennial with fine long grassy, silver variegated leaves and white flowers in late summer. It prefers a moist, fertile soil in shade. On our display it made a lovely textural contrast to the snowdrops.
Members also brought hellebores. One that attracted a great deal of attention was Helleborus x hybridus Yellow-Gold nectaries, which just about describes it. We also had pots of H. x ericsmithii ‘Molly’s White’, H. ‘Silver Dollar’ and some seedlings grown from a Tom Mitchell collection in 2012. One was thought to be H. odorus and the other, with dark pewter/greenish flowers, possibly H. abruzzicus. Discussions like this, with members chipping in with their knowledge and experience is what makes our meetings so interesting and invaluable.
Helleborus x hybridus Yellow-Gold nectaries
At the very front of the display we had some gorgeous bowls of hellebores, which members had put together from their collections. I talked to one member who I know has grown hellebores from seedlings in her own garden. I told her that mine had deteriorated so that I am left with a lot of wishy washy pink ones of very little merit and wondered how hers were doing. She pointed out the most beautiful anemone-flowered deep pink one in her bowl and went on to explain that she had found a seedling under it which she had grown on. It turned out to be, and she then pointed to another flower in her bowl, an equally beautiful white one!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this second frolic – through our plant display. Two frolics for one meeting can’t be bad! Thank you all for your generous contributions.


  1. Marieke van Eldik

    Gorgeous, what a joy it was to see tables full of our best spring treasures.
    Enjoying reading about it and to see the lovely pictures and the stories behind
    them again.

  2. Jane Forbes-Evans

    I was disappointed not to be at the meeting with Steve Edney on Sunday.
    When Steve joined the Salutation i encouraged him to join Kent HPS and he has supported the Group since then.
    Ginny, you are amazing!
    I have been fortunate to be a member of the Kent group and filled a number of posts on committee since 1993 and over the years i have enjoyed your production of the HPS newsletter which was always interesting.
    Now you have moved with the times , very successfully, and we have a wonderful new HPS web site and blog, giving members a new refreshing , instant and easy method of keeping up with events both current and past plus showing others what they are missing by not being members.
    Over the years your enthusiasm for photography has grown and now HPS members are treated to endless colourful, detailed ‘pics’ with every posting complimented by endless , interesting and fun prose.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Fiona Chapman

    From a long-standing member to a relatively new one! I’ve only been a member for a short while, but have loved the meetings & garden visits (including a fabulous day out at Beervelde last year) & thoroughly enjoy reading the blog. I’ve always been a massive fan of Steve Edney, so was thrilled to come along to his ‘frolic’ – he certainly didn’t disappoint. I brought along my nephew (very young compared to most of us!) & he enjoyed it so much, he is planning on joining the group. We need to convince the younger generation that gardening is ‘cool’ & the enthusiasm of the Kent group has certainly done that. Here endeth the sermon – thank you!

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