It’s all happening in the deep south

By Richard Wright

Published on Friday, July 25, 2014 - 14:30


It’s all happening in the deep south

Pat York’s mystery plant.


FORGET the Arreton Valley, the area that really gives us the name Garden Isle is the south of our Island with its special micro-climate.

Parts of it may be slip sliding away, but the area from Ventnor to St Lawrence is truly special, evidenced by the fact many of the best garden tales come from there, from the simple to the unusual.

Down in St Lawrence, Philip Hawkins sent me some photographs of wildlife in his garden.

It may seem simple stuff but the delight of seeing a slow worm, a painted lady butterfly and a golden-ringed dragonfly all in one day is a special thing indeed.

And that was in addition to his nasturtiums continuing to bloom after over-wintering. His are among those forsaking their annual roots — a phenomenon reported by a number of readers.

Pat York, who also lives in St Lawrence, sent me a photograph of a plant which cropped up in her gravel garden.

She has no idea of what it may be but she would welcome readers identifying it.

Pat said: "It is about 2ft wide and about 3ft tall and nobody has been able to identify it. Any ideas?"

Answers can be sent to me at the County Press, Brannon House, 123 Pyle Street, Newport PO30 1ST or where I welcome all gardening tales and tips, many of which I’ll squirrel away for future use.

Tucked away in the heart of the Undercliff is Steve and Dee Jaggers’s Pelham House in Seven Sisters Road, half a mile past Ventnor Botanic Garden and opposite the village hall.

On Sunday, it opens under the charity National Gardens Scheme.

The couple have an interesting garden stretching to an acre with stunning sea views and access into Pelham Woods.

It is planted for year-round interest with trees, shrubs, perennials and unusual palms.

A fish pond and sloping lawns lead to a tropical hut and a swimming pool surrounded by exotic plants and tree ferns, emphasising the area’s sub-tropical reputation.

There is a vegetable garden with raised beds, a greenhouse, a new woodland area and an echium walk too.

Teas are served in the village hall and admission, between 11am and 5pm, is £3, children free.

At the botanic garden in the Echium Room on Thursday, Sally Peake will give an illustrated talk on Ventnor Botanic Garden — Past, Present and Future.

The garden has a future only because it was saved by entrepreneur and philanthropist John Curtis, supported by the band of fundraising friends, of which Sally is an integral part.

The talk will be followed by the presentation of the Harold Hillier Award to Susan Dobbs by the president of the Friends, Brian Kidd.

Brian will be well-known to listeners of Radio Solent and is the father of garden curator, Chris.

The award is presented annually to someone who has made a significant contribution to horticulture on the Island, and who better than Sue, who lives not a million miles away from me.

All are welcome. The talk starts at 6pm and there will be a retiring collection in aid of the Friends.

There are worse places to enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of tea with like minds.

I am reminded that on Sunday the botanic garden trail, in association with the British Red Cross, comes to an end after nearly a month.

A trail map, for £1 — which goes to the Red Cross — helps visitors explore the history and medicinal heritage of the garden and the relics that remain from the days of the Royal National Hospital, which formerly occupied the site.

Standard garden admission fees apply for this and the range of activity days every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the school holidays.

A new summer pass gives unlimited access to the garden for £12.50 for adults and £7.50 for children until September 1, one of a range of experiments to encourage repeat visits.

Has this plant oddity long to live?

MIKE Dukes sent me photographs of an oddity, which appeared in his Newport garden.

Right next to some ordinary Dusty Millers was a flattened version.

Dusty Miller has the botanical name of Senecio cineraria, a popular foliage plant grown for its cool, silvery, woolly-felted leaves, which provide excellent contrast to beds, borders and containers, blooming canary yellow and cream.

A perennial, it reaches a height of a couple of feet and grows easily with minimal care — but is not normally flat-stemmed.

Even the experts do not fully understand why some plants mutate in what is termed 'fasciated’ growth.

Some species change in this way as a natural selection adaptation to conditions over many generations, but some do it through genetic mistake — more often than not as the usual round dome of growing-point cells change to a crescent shape, producing the characteristic and unusual flat stem fasciation.

Sadly, they are usually the weaker of the species and it will be interesting to see if Mike’s is long lived or flat-out dead before too long.

Visitors help charity

DAVID and Louisa Killpack thank the more than 200 people who visited their garden which is tucked away behind Carisbrooke Road — and the band of helpers who helped make it so enjoyable for all.

More than £1,200 was raised for the Alzheimer’s Society.

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