To visit the Gardens, House & Gallery, please book a ticket online before you arrive. The Stables, Plant Centre & Caffè + Gelato are free to enter. Summer Late openings take place every Wednesday evening (except 30th June, 22nd September)
it is GLOOMY out there today! It's been raining since I woke up (6.15 am!!!) and it is hard to enjoy being a gardener on a day like today.
But there are some wondrous jolly plants really proving their worth out there at the moment and I love anything that flowers at this time of year.
We struggle with bulbs at Hestercombe as we share our land with a whole host of squirrels and badgers who like to dine out on any bulbs we plant. We have tried everything from netting, human urine (Ben has his uses!) and electric fencing until finally we gave in and decided to rely on other types of plants. But if we could there is an amazing array of spring bulbs to choose from. I love Scilla's and Chinodoxa's and there are some amazing crocuses out there.
But we have a different set of beauties here and these are this weeks early spring heroes.
I love Pulmonaria, commonly known as lungwort. I don't know why, in lots of peoples eyes they are nothing special but I think they do such a good job, they are really easy to care for, you can divide them and double their numbers quite rapidly, early bees and insects can feed from them, and they have great spotty leaves. Pulmonaria officnalis starts with pink flowers that change to blue as they age. There is also a stunning white variety 'Sissinghurst White'. Their only downfall is a tendency toward mildew in the summer but it doesn't seem to affect the plants vigour and you can just cut the infected leaves off.
Another great blue flowering plant is Tracheystemon orientalis. It is from the borage family and has borage like flowers. Also loved by early bees. After the flowers have gone over the leaves get bigger and tougher and act as a great bit of ground cover during the summer months.
To continue the unintentional blue flowered theme, this week the Anemone blanda has also come out. The trouble is you need a sunny day to really appreciate them as they only open up in warm sunlight. They are great planted in huge swathes and come in pink, white and blue. We have a large patch in the shrubbery of blue and white ones and they look great en masse.
And we LOVE Leucojum vernum- also known as spring snowflake. It is a bulb (obviously not tasty to badgers and squirrels) that comes up after the snowdrops have started dying back, so gives great continuation of colour. It is taller than most snowdrops too so they look really elegant. And once you have a big clump they are quite happy being divided and moved around. (For some reason I cannot get the photo of them up so you will have to take my word for it!)
Anyway I highly recommend a walk at Hestercombe, you'll be amazed at how much early life there is. You could tag it in with a trip to Knighthayes Court which is fabulous over the next couple of months with its woodland planting. I can remember seeing huge amounts of crocus under a flowering magnolia. And make sure you visit Greencombe near Porlock where there is an amazing collection of Erythronium (dog's-tooth violet) that I have always been very jealous of!
It's an exciting time of year and any plant willing to show its face in all this gloom is a friend of mine!