Cams/Beds Hardy Plant Society

PUBLISHED: 17:07 21 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:03 06 May 2010

The meeting in April was the last of the group until it starts with speakers again in October. However, the summer programme is full of garden visits which include the national Summer Gardens Day, hosted by local members. There are many other events on th

The meeting in April was the last of the group until it starts with speakers again in October. However, the summer programme is full of garden visits which include the national Summer Gardens Day, hosted by local members. There are many other events on the horizon, including the Essex group's 25th anniversary on September 30 and preparations are well under way for the National Society's 50th Anniversary in 2007. However, on April 1 Roger Skipper was talking to an excellent turnout of members of the subject of Colourful Pentstemons. He and his wife Anna have a one acre garden alongside their bungalow at Wootton Green which in fact will be open for the National Gardens Scheme on July 9 from 2 - 6pm. It has nor been an easy garden to cultivate, being only two miles from the Stewartby brickworks which signifies heavy blue clay. This is only a foot down from their topsoil and so heroic efforts had to be made with all sorts of soil improvers. They now have a garden which is filled to the brim with trees, shrubs, bulbs and over 150 varieties and species of Pentstemons. These beautiful plants are relatives of the foxgloves they resemble with their pretty hanging bells. The first mention of them found was in 1748 and now there are over 270 species. The plants come in all shapes and sizes but all have the same features - the leaves have serrations all the way down, arranged in pairs opposite each other. All the flowers have five petals and are pollinated by humming birds - maybe in Mexico, their original home, but here they make do with small insects. There is a pentstemon for every location as the size ranged from 3in to three metres ands some are woody like trees. There are no green or black flowers and very few yellow ones. They do not like root disturbance or desiccating winds and Roger reckons to lose perhaps 5% a year, but still has some 880 or so plants. The talk was followed by some lovely slides and advice on the best varieties. It is not easy to talk on a single species of plant, but this was very good.

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