Here come my pictures from our visit to the Devonian Botanic Garden this spring. As always, I went straight to the Primula Dell and from there straight to the Alpine Garden. As always, my camera’s battery was exhausted before I was ready to move on to the many other gardens. (I have since bought a second battery, finally.) Click pictures to enlarge.
The garden’s floral emblem, the Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis), is now little seen on the grounds, presumably a particular favourite of a director now departed. A luckily timed visit may still find one in the Primula Dell, and we can hope the long-promised “programme … underway to increase the number of species of Primula in the Dell” might also bring back the blue poppies. Until then, this sculptural rendering stands as a memorial if not a promise.
Inverting the traditional Exit-Through-the-Gift-Shop strategy, the DBG has you enter through the gift shop and exit through the old entry gates. Don’t rush in, though. On the lawn in front of the Gift Shop awaits the tufa bed, one of the Garden’s highlights.
The bed is underplanted, in my view, though it looks good here, as I cropped off the underplanted parts. Lots of apparently self-sown Dodecatheons (shooting stars), a carpet speedwell (Veronica), a Saxifrage or two, a little Daphne, and some Dianthus (I think) were on show this day. I’d like to see Primula marginatas in here. There are a few in the Primula Dell that might flourish in a more alpine-like situation.
Tarrying en route to the Dell, we admired the mortal remains of some local wildlife in the open-air classroom’s small-mammal sepulchre.
Up the path, another learning opportunity. This fine plant is labelled Anemone narcissifolia. But does the anemone’s foliage resemble that of a narcissus?
Not really. The flowers, though, by virtue of their pointy-tipped petals (distinct from the rounded petals of most anemones) do resemble those of a narcissus. And for this reason, this anemone’s name is actually narcissiflora. We shouldn’t believe every sign we read, even if it is written by someone who works in a university. Question Authority Everywhere, boys and girls.
Onward, to the Dell.
This double auricula is called ‘Camelot.’ In Britain and Europe, fancy show auriculas are raised in pots and kept out of the rain, under glass or in shaded auricula theatres. In the New World, we boldly plant them in the open garden and let the weather have its wild way. (My photography isn’t as good as in previous years. This was a bright day and it seems I forgot to set the camera for close-up pictures.)
Another show auricula, ‘Arundel Stripe,’ proving very hardy in the garden.
A couple of Primula marginatas now. I didn’t note their names. They are obviously many years established but don’t appear to have flowered this year. I would move them — or take cuttings and move them — to the Tufa Bed, to the collection of alpine troughs beside the plant sales area, or to a crevice bed/rockery that I would have built in the sunny centre of the Primula Dell.
A few Primula sieboldii grow in the Primula Dell, but none grow, where you might expect them, in the Kurimoto Japanese Garden, whose spring colour is provided by mass plantings of Bergenia.
I measure the progress of the season relative to previous years by the size of the goslings, the number of flowers vs seed heads in the Pulsatilla meadow, and the blooming stage of the Primula chionanthas. This year, and the calendar more or less agrees, we are a little earlier than 2011 (June 19) and a little later than 2012 (May 26). (Click on the dates to see those pictures.)
There were fewer plants, and fewer Primulas, in the Dell, but that could be a promising sign, if space has been cleared — by weeding, as well as removing some of the runaway P veris that likes to pose behind the names of other, long-expired species — to prepare for the arrival of new plants.
Completing our tour of the Dell: the P denticulata, finished flowering, lengthen their stalks prior to seed dispersal; the vivid P allioni hybrids give up their last few blossoms; and an unlabelled galazy of shooting stars explodes (I don’t know Dodecatheons well enough to ID this one).
Finally, a stand-out among the many non-Primulas in the Dell, a red-leafed alpine Epimedium.
And a bush peony — a peony growing in the underbrush at the edge of the Dell. Did it grow there from seed, or from a bit of root left in a former flower bed now returned to the wild? The latter, more likely, I think. Anyway, not a plant you expect to encounter in the Canadian bush.
Up next, after I take a break for a few hours/days, the Alpine Garden.