Hepaticas – Ebay inflation, alternatives and free gift

I have a modest collection of hepaticas and have no intention of adding to it any time soon from Ebay. It seems prices have gone through the roof. Three years ago I bought Hepatica japonica ‘Haato no Kingu’ from the very same lady who yesterday sold the very same plant for three times the sum on the auction site. The one I had my eye on, though for interest not buying, was ‘Yoichichioya’ but it went for three times the sum I would have paid. Nice work if you can get it and I can testify to the quality of Renata’s plants. There are other sellers …

Purely because I care for my reader may I recommend an alternative from Edrom Nurseries, a splendid Scottish specialist. ‘Akane’ is very similar and a third of the price. Indeed Edrom is offering a discount on multiple purchases. Sadly, very sadly, I’m not on commission.

Edrom Nurseries Hepatica japonica ‘Akane’

Then there’s your free gift. It dropped through our letterbox today. The sumptuous David Austin ‘Handbook of Roses’ 2021. Tempting, enticing, seductive. And free. I’m just about to dive in. Their roses are magnificent, as readers will discover from this summer’s posts. I have a number.

Hellebore niger ‘Verboom Beauty’ for Christmas

 The weather was perishing cold today yet I can take any low temperature provided the sun is out which it was as we set off for a walk in nearby Nostell Priory. Arriving there and drinking my usual caffe latte outside we had dark clouds and rain. The intended long walk was shorter than intended. Driving back the sun came out. Hellebore niger ‘Verboom Beauty’ graces our porch. It was bred specifically to flower at Christmas and indoors. The cool porch is perfect. So is a plant one may enjoy whatever the weather.

Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ – time to say goodbye

 One of the most difficult acts in gardening is to discard a beautiful plant and yet there are times when it is time to say goodbye. You might fancy a change, it may simply be in the wrong place, or it has outgrown you. I have had to make some tough decisions this year. Too often in the past I’ve let sentiment get in the way of practicality. Take the early flowering climbing rose, Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’, that graced our south facing patio wall. Note, dear reader, the past tense. ‘Lutea’, photographed here on 21st April, is a stunner. I bought it a few years ago in imitation of Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire. There the yellow laden, thornless tentacles leap up to the tall towers, a truly magnificent sight so early in the year, or anytime come to think. Frankly on our modest wall the plant was too much of a good thing. When not bathed in eye-catching, fresh, tightly bunched, clusters of flowers I was forever pruning it. Windows, guttering and roof were fair game. It had to go to be replaced by a modest clematis. I’ll miss it in spring. If you have a stately home do give it a try.

Renishaw Hall – ‘Lutea’ climbs to top of centre tower!

Rosa ‘Birthday Girl’ – Top Performer

 Redesigning the garden has meant sacrificing some roses. However ‘Birthday Girl’ is not one. It has been a magnificent rose, repeat flowering in profusion, fresh and bright. I have read that it makes a good hedging plant: true enough I’m sure but for me it is a feature not a boundary. Standing at a modest 3ft it needs no support and seems disease free. It was bred by that prolific French nursery Meilland and released in 1992. A good, commercial name too for that garden centre birthday gift. I photographed it on 20th May when it first bloomed and it continued to autumn. Meilland has been around since 1850 and bred some mammoth successes – ‘Peace’ (‘Madame A Meilland’), ‘Papa Meilland’.