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Unfurling of Iris
GINA PARKINSON introduces an elegant late spring plant that will thrive almost anywhere.
IRIS siberica is dotted about our garden and from late May produces lovely rich blue flowers from tightly furled buds.
This graceful late spring-flowering plant has long thin leaves and elegant stems topped with flowers; it seems to do well in almost any situation. It is happiest in a fairly moist soil but will cope with dryer sites, given a decent mulch of good garden compost in early spring; very dry chalky soils are best avoided.
An established clump will slowly spread indefinitely which could be a problem in a confined space, but this obliging plant doesn’t seem to mind being hacked about and overgrown clumps can simply be lifted and divided after flowering in mid to late summer and replanted.
Plenty of water for the first few weeks after replanting should get the roots established and the new plants ready for flowering the following summer.
The deep blue of the flowers seems to look better in cool semi-shade, where they partner well with hostas and forget-me-nots or dark flowered geranium phaeum.
While Iris siberica doesn’t need to have its feet in water, Yellow Flag or Iris pseudacorus certainly does. This gorgeous marginal plant blooms in late May and early June with bright flowers topping metre-high stems rising from sword-like leaves.
It is a vigorous plant and will need to be divided fairly often once established, especially in a small pond.
The variety ‘Variegata’ is smaller and its green-edged cream leaves are attractive even when the plant isn’t in bloom. The variegation may fade in summer but should develop again in autumn and through winter.
LOVELY forget-me-nots that create a misty sea of blue in spring are going to seed. Now is the time to clear them away for another year as the flowers fade and the plants become mildewed.
These plants are prolific self-seeding biennials and those that flowered earliest will have already dropped ripe seed that has germinated.
Pulling up the old plants with care will reveal plenty of seedlings beneath. These will grow away all summer and provide next year’s crop of blooms.
Sunday, June 17
In aid of the National Gardens Scheme
Hillbark, Church Lane, Bardsey, LS17 9DH, four miles south west of Wetherby. Award-winning one-acre garden on three south-facing levels with topiary, perennials, specimen yew, ponds, marginal planting, gravel, rock and stream gardens, large rambling roses and woodland. Open 11am-5pm, admission £3.50.
Molecroft Cottage, Northgate, Walkington, HU17 8ST, two miles south west of Beverley. One-acre garden with Yorkshire terrace with pots and a pond, lawn, herbaceous border, gravel, vegetable and wild gardens and a 78ft rose walk with clematis under planted with hostas. Open 1pm-5pm, admission £3.
Norton Conyers, Wath, HG4 5EQ, four miles north of Ripon. Historically interesting C18 walled garden with an iron entrance gate, herbaceous borders, yew hedges and an Orangery fronted by a pond. Open 2pm-5pm, admission £5.50 adult, £3.50 concessions. Teas in aid of Marie Curie Cancer care.
Oswaldkirk Hall, Oswaldkirk, YO62 5XT, four miles east of Helmsley. Four ace sloping garden with terrace, lawn, ha-ha and copper beeches plus a kitchen garden, orchard, stumpery, borders, white and herb gardens and views towards the Howardian Hills. Open 1pm-5pm, admission £3.50.
Skipwith Hall, Skipwith, YO8 5SQ, nine miles south of York. Four-acre walled garden with mixed borders, kitchen garden, beech hedges, pleached crab apple and pear tree walks, orchard with espalier and fan trained fruit and secret Italian garden under restoration. Open 1pm-5pm, admission £4.
Stillingfleet Lodge, Stewart Lane, Stillingfleet, YO19 6HP, six miles south of York. Large garden with colour-themed areas around the house leading to natural pond and wild flower meadow, 55-yard double herbaceous borders, modern rill garden and rare breed poultry wandering freely. Adjacent nursery open. Open 1pm-5pm, admission £4.50, child 5yrs-15yrs 50p.
Stockeld Park, Wetherby LS22 4AN, two miles north west of Wetherby. Large garden set in C18 parkland with a scented pergola leading to intimate garden rooms, mixed borders, old roses, climbers, herb garden and shrub and rose walk leading to woodland. Garden tours with head gardener Nigel Harrison. This is the first time the garden has been open for ten years. Open 12.30pm-5pm, admission £5.
Terrington House, Terrington, YO60 6PU, 15 miles north east of York. Formal garden set in three acres with herbaceous and mixed borders, shell house, delphiniums, roses, trees, herb garden parterre and vegetable garden. Open 11am-4pm, admission £4.
Whispadales, 48 Candler Avenue, West Ayton, YO13 9JN, four miles west of Scarborough. Small garden creatively planted with hostas, ferns, clematis, trees, shrubs, pond, raised alpine bed and two glasshouses with cactus and succulents. Open 11am-5pm, admission £3.50.
Linden Lodge, Newbridge Lane, near Wilberfoss, YO41 5RB, ten miles east of York. One-acre garden with gravel paths, borders, wildlife pond, kitchen garden, glasshouse, woodland area and formal garden with pond. Also five acres of developing meadow. Evening opening: 6pm-8.30pm, admission £6 (includes wine). Also open tomorrow and Sunday.
Gardening TV and radio
Sunday, June 17
8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.
9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.
2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Chris Beardshaw, Bunny Guinness, Anne Swithinbank and chairman Eric Robson answer queries from gardeners in Gloucestershire. There are also visits to listeners’ gardens in Nottingham and Shrewsbury.
3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. A postbag edition from Sparsholt College in Hampshire.
8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Monty plants the borders for colour into autumn, Joe suggest garden design tips from the 18th century and carol looks at creating a wildlife-friendly garden.
Saturday, June 23
7am, BBC Radio York, Julia Booth. Julia and gardening expert Nigel Harrison hold their weekly plant surgery.