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