Ground Hugging Alpines, Harlow Carr, Harrogate 2nd October 2015

Some of the most fascinating plants in the Alpine House at the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr are the alpines that hug the rock. They often have brilliant coloured flowers but do not have to be in bloom to catch the eye. My own alpines grown outdoors never look like these, the combination of drought, soaking, wind and weeds marring the effect but a man can dream.

Dionysia 'Monika'
Acantholimon litvinovii
Dionysia tapetodes 'Peter Edwards'
 Gypsophila aretioides caucasica
Junellia micrantha
Saxifraga 'Cio Cio San'
Saxifraga 'Gloria'
Draba cusickii
Erigeron ursinus
Androsace pyrenaica
Draba 'Buttermilk'
Androsace studiosorum Chumbyi
Draba subacaulis & Draba yunnanensis
Dionysia 'Ananke'
 Dionysia tapetoides ' Peter Edwards'
Dionysia ' Pascal'
Dionysia curviflora
Benthamiella patagonica
Androsace selago 'Red Eye'
Dionysia 'Monika'
Androsace himalaica
Gypsophila aretioides caucasica
 Draba acaulis ex Bolkar Dag
Draba hybrid 'Buttermilk'
Benthamiella patagonica

Narcissus "Elka"

Sometimes the images of plants are different from the catalogues and googling Narcissus "Elka" I'm struck by how pale some of the images look, almost white in the case of Sarah Raven where it is described as being "ivory". Mine are two coloured, possessing a deeper albeit pale yellow trumpet with lighter outer petals. There is a simple beauty. Classy. So the catalogues are correct in that the flowers are a "classy daff" and worthy of that RHS AGM. I have it together with Harvington Double White, another classy plant.

Narcissus "Rip van Winkle"

"Rip van Winkle"..... a dwarf narcissus that looks like an overgrown dandelion. It certainly increases well. I cleared a large pot last year and it was jam packed with new bulbs and now I have them front, rear and sideways. Dandelions spread as well. Not as cute, unusual or, with their pale yellow flowers, beautiful.

Split-cupped Narcissus, "Sunny Side Up"

Some of the split-cupped or butterfly daffodils are very attractive, if occasionally a little exotic for my tastes. I believe these are "Sunny Side Up", a cheerful sight though they droops a bit! Thompson and Morgan have a  'Rainbow Butterflies Mixed' that gets into the category, "a little exotic for my tastes". The two tone colours of my variety, several years old now (accounting for the lack of certainty about the name) are more natural in the garden. I don't, for example, like pink daffodils.

Galanthus nivalis Sandersii

Still beautiful on my display bench, Galanthus nivalis Sandersii is quite a sight and a rival for many over-priced yellow snowdrops I could mention on eBay at the moment. Not all versions with this name are as yellow. In the background is Eranthis hyemalis 'Guinea Gold', a deeper version of the winter aconite and one I have had for years but one that refuses to increase.

Narcissus cyclamineus "Rapture"

 "Rapture" is one of the most praised narcissus varieties of recent years. Raised by the late
Grant E. Mitsch in Oregon, USA, its early flowering habit and reflexed petals are a marvelous sight on a bright, early Spring day. Again, as with many of the narcissus varieties I have featured here, the link to the cyclamineus species is clear, this being a larger, easier to grow variety. Grant E Mitsch also introduced "Jetfire" a remarkable, long lasting bloomer in our garden.

Alton Towers Hotel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Fountain, Peter Price

Here is a sculpture a little out of the ordinary, the photographs taken this weekend at Alton Towers Hotel after our dance weekend there. Sited in a pool eight metres in diameter, the amalgamation of objects takes some scrutiny but essentially follows along the lines of my own estate car that is too often full of junk. Local sculptor Peter Price made the piece in the mid 1990s for the then newly opened hotel, as well as the stone chess pieces that are in the courtyard entrance. The art in the hotel is of a similar whimsical quality. The fountain is like a Damien Hirst only better. Far better, come to think.

Giles Rayner, Charybdis Water Sculpture, Savill Gardens, Windsor

Giles Rayner is arguably the leading water sculptor currently working in the UK. I saw his work last year at Burton Agness though I have failed to find the photographs I took at the time. Visiting Savill Gardens in February I discovered the Charybdis Water Sculpture in the Queen Elizabeth Temperate House. Giles' blog is an interesting read. There is a reference to the 8.5 ft "Neptune" from Burton Agness.

Narcissus cyclamineus "Userpa"

I bought this lovely miniature narcissus from Matt Bishop when purchasing snowdrops. Narcissus cyclamineus "Userpa" was an impulse buy but has justified the modest outlay although it is very like "Mite" available at one third the cost. The difference is that it is about a third larger in every respect save for the foliage, which is altogether larger. Matt says the bulb is vigorous so it will be interesting to see how it compares with its more petite cousin. "Userpa" is a striking flower, its bold trumpet and reflexed petals prominent.

Galanthus 'Curly'

Galanthus "Curly" dates back to the 1960s owing its name to the outward curling nature of the green inner petals. Dismiss the references to its being "highly fragrant" for as I have said before, if you require winter fragrance grow daphnes or narcissus.

Burnby Hall Gardens, Pocklington, East Yorkshire, 8th September 2012

We visited Pocklington for family reasons, stopping off at Burnby Hall Gardens where they have a National Collection of Hardy Water Lilies. Founded by Major Percy Marlborough Stewart and his wife Katharine in 1904 it was left to the people of Pocklington on Percy's death in 1962. The day in 2012 when we first visited the gardens was quiet, last summer we visited on Sunday and it was packed and vibrant. There are two lakes packed with fish and lilies of all colours. Following the gardens we visited Flamborough Head, accounting for the last image, Burnby not being big enough to accommodate white cliffs and tides.

And remembering .....

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'