I left home again.
We went to gaze at and learn about erythroniums, this being the time of year to do that. And to have a day out. We went to Greencombe Gardens in Porlock, Somerset. Porlock is, of course, famous for the unwanted person who woke Coleridge from an opium dream. Yep, Coleridge was a dope addict. But a good poet for all that – my favourite poem of his being The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which even Charles has enjoyed and he’s no poetry lover.
But we didn’t go to visit Coleridge, or obtain opium, we went for flowers. We are rather erythronium fans. We grow some in a small coppice for our spring pleasure: just for us, because we don’t open in spring, and that somehow makes them and our daily visits special. But best of all, for us, is that Charles plants a hundred Erythronium Pagoda in our woods every year and has done for some thirty years now. The result is amazing and delightful to us.
We mentioned this to the owner of Greencombe Garden, who has the National Collection of erythroniums. Our description made him go rather pale. To keep a pristine and accurate National Collection you have to religiously dead head all the flowers so they don’t breed. Now, Pagoda does not set seed, so this should not be necessary for this particular variety, but clearly, for all that, the idea of hundreds of them was a nightmare idea to our erythronium man.
So we set off to explore.
Into a woodland path, past an ancient holly:
And then, I am very sorry to say, our first erythronium was a bit of an anticlimax. American too!!!!
What a let down, you lot. According to the creator of the garden, Joan Loraine, in her booklet ‘Hunting the Dog’s Tooth’ these plants ‘need the stimulus of restriction to make them flower.’ But do they ever open when they do flower? Well, not for us. Onwards….
We loved this:
And here we are – an erythronium in full flower!
You know I hate labels, but here, identifying the items in a collection for the benefit of us all, they are essential. And these are definitely as pleasing as a label gets, I think. And now we’re away, one after another:
But revolutum is. It’s a real spreader, bounces happily around and it’s one of our favourites at Veddw.
And so it goes on, and on – I will put more pictures of these wonderful flowers at the bottom of this post, for those of you who are falling for their spell. Meanwhile there were also things like this (must be a Camelia?):
But also like this:
And there was this, of course:
Wood anemones, which I love – here’s double! Bring me one!!!
Where there is any space for it, there is moss:
which also illustrates why this garden is so good for low growing spring plants – it’s so sloped that you can look up at them when they are beside the path.
And there is the view out to the sea:
A great day trip for us and a real education in erythronium-ing.
Well done, if you got this far. Go and begin your collection.
Lovely place and pictures. Shade gardens are my favorites. Had no idea there were so many kinds of Erythronium. I have dogtooth which spreads happily, especially since I have rigidly controlled the very tiny tiddy freak part of me that bursts out the first warm spell and attacks the beds.
Epimediums are another fave. And the moss. Wow.
You must refrain from attacking your beds. And perhaps see if there are more erythroniums which might like you?
“Go and begin your collection”, indeed! I never thought much about these plants in the catalogs, but then again, I don’t have that much shade. But now I want to make it work. Thanks for the gorgeous photos–I am now inspired!
I am totally corrupting. Beware…….
But delightfully so.
Loved the books!
What an education! I had no idea there were so many different types of Erythroniums. Loved the moss and how it enhance the other plants. A new spot to explore, if I’m ever in your part of the world in the right season.
It’s quite a narrow window but, of course, worth the trip!
the first one, which you didn’t name but called American, looks like our native trout lily, Erythronium americanum. It does open out as it gets a bit older. In my area of western North Carolina, they bloom in March
Glad to hear it’s flowers do oblige in the end. It does appear to have some challenges.
americanum. Small a . Species.
Yes, dear, we know…..
I knew you were good people! Erythronium fans!
We used to have one with purple pollen. It was exquisite.
Very good people! (Mostly…..)
I simply must look for these at the nurseries. I have a circular shade garden in the front with a dogwood in the center that would be a perfect spot for them. Passersby walk right near there and it would be nice to share them with neighbors. I could put them in the spot where my sweet woodruff died (killed that plant twice, despite the warning it spreads and can be invasive!) I also just love the moss and that “starfish” shaped piece of wood.
I think invasive plants are often hard to establish. Lily of the Valley is our challenge.
I saw your comment, …why do people bother to plant camelias? I garden in the PNW, zone 8b. Lots of Camelias in lots of colors. They are beautiful, for a few minutes. And then they drop and make a mess. However, for those few minutes, they are gloriously gorgeous. I don’t have any in my garden, but a friend has one with dark, dep red blooms. And for those few fleeting moments, I enjoy!
I wouldn’t mind them dropping and making a mess, it’s when they go manky and hang on there like grim death that I mind. Even the ones that are supposed to drop.
It was a triumph when I dug the last of ours out. Awful shrubs. Guaranteed to cause distress.
Love it when these subtle spring beauties get promoted.The foliage on all of these is beautiful too. Great presentation. I’m not able to garden where I live now but I still love seeing what others are doing! Thanks.
Happy to give you the pleasure – and you are right about the foliage, which I failed to mention.
I just discovered cyclamens and hellbores. Now you show me these – I’m going to have to start on a serious shade garden.
We plant camellias for the same reason people plant daffs, or roses, or erythroniums (erythronia?). During ‘their moment,’ they are Beauty Personified. Dad planted about 6 of them when he & Mom had their house built, 63 years ago. My sister has the house now. The camellias are now 15 – 20′ trees, too close together, and when they bloom, the world is in bloom at that end of the house.
Well, it’s still a mystery to me re camellias – see above. I may have been unlucky, but Greencombe bore out my prejudice, I’m sad to say.
Beautiful post! Also interesting to find another fan of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” In your best Halloween voice repeat after me “A thousand slimy things lived on, And so did I.”
Sadly, where I live they wouldn’t want to live. I believe they like loamy, acid soil, as they grow in East Texas, which has soil blueberries love, but alas, my part of Texas is heavy clay alkaline soil. I enjoyed your visit, though. Charles takes wonderful pictures!
My pictures are quite nice too. But he is the professional.
We don’t have to plant “trout lilies” (Erythronium americanum) because they are all over our woodland near the rivers. They’re flowering about now, WITH open flowers. Bloodroot, cardinal flower, false hellebore (I don’t have genus and species names handy, sorry) are all there without any work from me. I do have to walk perhaps a whole tenth of a mile (joke) to go see them.. Some of those erythronium you showed had quite large and very showy flowers. I might have to find one or two to add to the shade out back. These rants can be dangerous to one’s purse.
Sounds wonderful. But there’s always that sneaky little thought about additions. I know – sometimes I’m only saved by discovering i can’t obtain a plant in the UK.
Love the camellias! Effortless and without bloom rot.
I suppose that makes a huge difference. Fortunately, one of the few diseases or pests we haven’t imported yet.
Lucky! Hope you stay lucky.