Contributed by Ginny Oakes

On March 3, 2016

Goodnestone 2016

We had a successful event at our Snowdrop and Hellebore Extravaganza at Goodnestone last Sunday.  
We were surprised to find the house covered in scaffolding, which meant the nurseries had to move from their usual location, but their tables were packed with goodies and I’m sure everyone went home with something special. The plant display was not as extensive as we’d hoped so a very big thank you to those members who did contribute. There were some very interesting exhibits, which attracted interest and comment from our visitors.
The talk by Julian Sutton was excellent. He explained what keeps him interested in hellebores, telling us all about the species and where they grow in the wild and how enthusiasts have crossed them to produce the many hybrids we enjoy today. And they’re still doing it so who knows what will be next.
It was bitterly cold with a keen wind but it didn’t rain and the sun did manage to make an appearance on occasion. In previous years I’ve taken photographs of the garden at Goodnestone but, because there weren’t the best conditions for photography, I went looking for some more unusual shots. The gallery below will show you what I came up with! Because the season this year is so advanced the many varieties of snowdrop that we grow were past their best, which made me realize that Galanthus nivalis flowers much later. Tim Ingram pointed out that he always considers snowdrop time as being late February and thinks that this is because drifts of G. nivalis in woods and churchyards are his first memory of snowdrops and that’s when they would have been flowering. Interesting thoughts!
This year there were also drifts of narcissus, not something we’ve seen in previous years, and the magnolias were just bursting their furry buds. Last year, I seem to remember, the grass garden had been cut down ready for new growth but this year they’d left it and it looked fabulous. It provided a completely different texture and atmosphere from the rest of the garden and I really enjoyed my stroll between the dried out, tall stems.
Winter is always a time to appreciate the silhouettes of bare trees but I also found some bare hydrangea stems with unusual shapes and some dried out flower heads – how did they manage to stay dry with so much rain? Two unusual shrubs caught my attention, one with similarities to honeysuckle and another which looked like a viburnum. Take a look and see if you can identify them.
The mahonia flowers were long gone but the fruits and evergreen foliage looked stunning. Camellias provided splashes of colour when glimpsed through the other shrubs and some of the witch hazels were still looking good. I was amazed to see Melianthus major looking so untouched by winter weather. I’d never noticed the flint gateways at Goodnestone before but this time I was looking for the unusual and they fitted the bill!
To view the gallery click on an image to enlarge it and then scroll through. Hit F11 for a full screen experience. I hope you enjoy looking at the images in the warm, safe in the knowledge that you haven’t got to thaw out afterwards!


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