In celebration of British Flowers Week, we’ve been chatting to a few of our Garden Weekend guest speakers about their favourite British blooms.
First up is Derry Watkins, author of two books on greenhouse gardening Derry has introduced many plants from her plant collecting trips to South Africa and elsewhere. The result is a collection of unusual plants from all over the world, including an amazing range of hardy herbaceous and rockery plants as well as many tender perennials for terrace and conservatory.
“My favourite plant just for flowers is probably Orlaya grandiflora – flat discs scattered with large and small petals hover on slender stems above the rest of the garden in May and June. Like all umbels it makes a brilliant cut flower. Easiest to germinate in autumn, but then they need a bit of protection in the winter. If you sow in spring for a later display, give them a bit of warmth to get going.”
From one extraordinary plantswomen and author to another, Marina Christopher studied biology and ecology before starting life as a nurserywoman in 1984. In 2002 she created Phoenix Perennial Plants, a nursery growing hardy and unusual plants. Marina regularly supplies plants to top garden designers, including Chelsea Flower Show projects. This year Marina is working with Parham’s Gardening Team on our gold border project.
“I would choose Echium vulgare, the Viper’s Bugloss. It is a biennial making a roughly hairy rosette in the first year and then producing long spires of tubular blue flowers which are caviar for pollinating insects. It flowers for many weeks so is a real asset for providing pollinators with nectar.”
Finally, our own Head Gardener Tom Brown, who oversees our beautiful gardens and is behind the innovative planting trials at Parham, reveals his favourite British flower.
“Alstroemeria comes in a wide range of colours and stem lengths, along with successive flowers, making it ideal for use in cut flower displays. It also works well when combined with lots of different garden flowers. Alstroemeria have an incredibly long flowering period and vase life of up to two weeks. A good tip when growing Alstroemeria is that stems should be pulled rather than cut to encourage re-flowering.”
Derry and Marina will both be sharing their knowledge of plants on the Saturday of our Garden Weekend while Tom will take part in a special Head Gardener’s talk alongside Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter, as well as Sarah Wain from West Dean Gardens and Troy Scott Smith from Sissinghurst Castle Gardens. Click here to find out more.