Richard Wright’s Crimson Emperor nasturtium.
Photo by Roseanna Wright
VERY different flowers lit up my e-mail inbox on the same day.
They were plants with very little in common except their beauty.
One is (almost exclusively) an annual, the other a long-lived conservatory dweller, which can survive on a certain amount of neglect.
First to drop in my box was Graham 'Smudger’ Smith’s picture.
Graham said: "I have never seen a nasturtium over-winter before — and it’s been flowering in my garden for the past couple of months too."
The same happened to me, Graham.
For the first time, I tried Thompson & Morgan’s Crimson Emperor nasturtium, which, like Graham’s survived the winter and remains in bloom.
Graham’s plants are more what most people imagine all nasturtiums to be but Chinese Cress has come a long way and is available in a rich panoply of colours right up to the rich tone of the Emperor, which was voted T&M’s Flower of the Year in 2013.
The 'rogue’ seed had been discovered in a plant breeder’s shoebox and selectively bred to become Scarlet Emperor, which has the added bonus of being of more bushy habit than the more traditional nasturtiums.
But they were put positively in the shade by Joy Ash, who sent me this picture of her wonderful cactus.
Now I’m no cactus man, although I do have a couple of raggedy specimens of which I’m rather fond.
They were brought home by elder daughter Roseanna when she was at Dover Park Primary School, Ryde — and she was 20 at the weekend.
One of them I remember being given as a tiny specimen at the Island branch of the British Cactus and Succulent Society Show when it was staged in Ryde many years ago
The cacti have hung on, languishing in ever more untidy form, but have never flowered and probably never will compare with Joy’s, which I believe from the shape of the flower to be one of the many species of Echinopsis
Joy, from Coronation Avenue, Northwood, said: "We thought you might like to see our fantastic cactus, which has once again grown not one but two wonderful flowers.
"The flowers do not last very long but while they are with us they remain a source of wonder.
"The cactus lives in a south-facing porch and is fed, now and again, with Baby Bio. We have loads of other cactus in the porch but this one is the most spectacular."
Echinopsis is characterised by having in excess of a hundred species, sub-species and hybridised variants but they all have one thing in common — their large, showy flowers.
Echinopsis plants range from very small, flattened-globose shape to quite large, treelike, giants.
Because of their exceptional flowers, many Echinopsis species are found in garden centres and in collections world-wide.
The larger species (Trichocereus) is also a popular landscape plant in warmer parts of the world.
Open gardens with so much to show
THERE is a garden feast on offer on Sunday.
In separate group openings, gardens in Brighstone and Calbourne open their gates for good causes.
Brighstone has no less than seven opening up, four of them new to the charity National Gardens Scheme.
The new ones are Gillmans in Upper Lane, the home of Julia Bery and Boni Reeks, Red Gables, the home of the Cornelius family, and Stoneridge, courtesy of Sheila Easby and Sandra Dickie, which are both in Moortown Lane and then there’s Mike and Joan Kirby’s Tralee in Main Road.
This collection of village gardens is varied but the common thread with many of them is they have been created on challenging sites.
The gardens vary in size and setting, and feature bright, new ideas and traditional planting too.
Among them there is the cleverly designed village school garden, David and Margaret Williamson’s Kiplings, and the list is completed by Elaine and Tom Boyer’s Little Orchard.
The gardens are easily walked and there is limited wheelchair access too with tickets available at both village stores and home-made teas at the village scout hut.
Combined admission is £4.50, children free. They open between 11am and 4pm.
Calbourne gardeners, meanwhile, have once again been busy planting, weeding and hoeing in preparation for the 17th annual Open Gardens.
This year there are 11 gardens in all, some opening every year.
Stalwarts include The Old Rectory, with its magnificent herbaceous borders and walled vegetable garden.
This year, there are two new ones, a lovely cottage garden, owned by newcomers to the village, and The Sun Inn, a new community venture, which has an eclectic mix of vegetables, fruit and flowers.
Another reason to visit Calbourne on Sunday is to sample the renowned fair at the recreation centre, where lovely lunches are freshly made to order. Tempting homemade cakes are available all day.
There is ample free parking on the recreation field, where programmes are available at £4.
All the money raised will go toward repairs to the roof of All Saints’ Church, which is estimated at around £30,000. The gardens are open between 11am and 4pm.
Secrets at the Dairy
THE gardens at the newly renovated Dairy at 196 Carisbrooke Road open on Sunday between 2pm and 5pm.
It is the first opening since renovation of the Dairy has been completed, so there have been some changes since last year, for those who have been before.
There is a pergola of roses, a kitchen garden, a stream, herbaceous beds, a watercress bed and more than two acres of woodland.
No-one expects to find all this tucked away behind the busy Carisbrooke Road.
Entry is £3, fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society. There are teas and two plant stalls. Parking is almost next door at Carisbrooke Health Centre.
Gardener’s generous mistletoe offer which comes with free advice
I AM continually heartened by the generosity of gardeners who go out of their way to share their wisdom, their gardening experiences and their plants.
Among them is John Way, who has an apple tree positively bristling with mature mistletoe berries, which he is happy to share if other readers want to give it a go. A few years ago, I tried the technique of cutting a lesion into the bark of one of my apple trees and wrapping the wound with sacking.
Nothing transpired, except the completely unconnected death of the tree.
Should readers wish to try their luck, John — who got his mistletoe from the same source as me in Clatterford Road, Carisbrooke — can be contacted on 883961.
He said: "They come with free advice on how to grow them."
l As ever, gardening tips, stories and photographs can be e-mailed to me at email@example.com or sent to me at Brannon House, 123 Pyle Street, Newport PO30 1ST.