Natural But Not Wild by Patricia Elkington

Our speaker this month is the owner of Crawley Court which has a two acre garden. Patricia moved there at the age of 12 which was 70 years ago. The garden first opened to the public 40 years ago as part of the National Gardens Scheme and still opens on a regular basis. After the family moved to the house they purchased a field adjoining the garden which initially was a family sports area but has now been turned into a wild flower meadow. The area gives a varying array of colour and form throughout the year.

The first things to flower are the Aconites with their yellow flowers which are good ground cover and  do well under trees. They are closely followed by the snowdrops which are divided regularly taking great care not to damage the roots which won’t regrow. There is an orchard which contains thousands of Crocus Tommasinianus and the garden opens for several days in February for viewers of the Crocus spectacle. The next to add change to the garden is Scilla Mischtschenkoana with its white flowers  and the early flowering Fritilleries. They flower in conjunction with the blue flowered Corydalis Flexuosa and the early tulips, with Tulipa Clusiana Sheila a favourite with its pink and yellow flowers.

In May there are Tulipa Sprengeri with Fritillaria Imperialis along with double Hellibores. Ground cover is provided by Lamium, dead nettles, Sweet Rocket with its scented flowers, dwarf Iris and Primula Wanda. Next there are hardy geraniums and Silene Montana with blue and white Campanula Latifolia. Next is a procession of varying plants with different forms and colours. Cirsium Rivulare, Welsh Poppies, Tradescantia Osprey, Pimpinella Rosea (Pink Saxifrage), Veronicastrum with its long pointed stems and Rosa Glauca.

From August there are Eryngium Oliverianum (Sea Holly), Big Lambs Ears, Sedum Ruby Glow, Perspicaria, Daphne Tangutica and Tulip Queen of the Night. There are Onopordum Acanthium (Giant Thistle) which spreads, Artemia, Ribes species and geraniums. These are followed by Clematis Etoile Rose, Dwarf Lambs Ears, Oxeye Daisys and Blue Pulsatillas.

In addition there are Hostas which are protected from pests by using baked, crushed eggshells, a tall shrub Sarcococca Confusa, Tellima Grandiflora (Fringe Cups) useful in deep shade, Doronicum, Phlomis, Hydrangea Arborescens, Lily of the Valley, Silene and a shrub named after the family Elkington’s White Ribes. An additional bonus is a healthy population of slow worms which help to remove pests.