During recent hard winters we unfortunately lost a large number of southern hemisphere plants, in particular tree ferns in the Exotic Garden. We noticed, however, that a smaller planting of tree ferns on the woodland banks above Lady Anne’s Garden fared much better, making us realise that the cold air had passed over the slope and settled in the lower parts of the Garden, making the Exotic Garden one of the coldest areas of all!
Since that period we have started to develop a number of plantings on the upper woodland banks where shelter is provided from mature tree canopies; along with sloping ground and well-drained sandy soil, this gives a totally different environment from the heavy soil of the main areas of the garden.
Although the temperature recordings from these areas so far seem to be similar to those of the rest of the garden, the slopes do enable a free draining soil and prevent any cold air settling for too long.
These pockets of planting are based on the southern hemisphere floras of South America, South Africa, Australasia and New Zealand - along with an area for Asian plants that prefer a milder situation.
Jewels from far-flung lands
Planting started in 2011 and has continued along with selective thinning to let in further light. The most recent plantings have included Eucryphia glutinosa (see photo) and E. cordifolia in South America; Lomatia fraseri and Wollemia nobilis (wollemi pine) in Australia and Agathis australis (the mighty and very ancient kauri) and Dicksonia squarrosa (tree fern) in New Zealand.
Sourcing hardy stock for South Africa has been a bit more difficult, though material of Melianthus villosus already in the garden will yield good seed; and Podocarpus henkelii has so far proved hardy from earlier plantings.
Another conifer, Widdringtonia nodiflora, will be planted out in due course.
Hopefully, as these plantings mature over the coming years, an impression will be given of the amazing range and beauty of plant diversity that these countries hold.
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