“We’ve cho­sen plants from around the world”

This quintessen­tially English gar­den boasts rare and un­usual plants from around the globe. Own­ers Les­lie and John Bryant give us a tour

Garden Answers (UK) - - Beautiful Gardens -

With its flower-filled borders, dam­son trees and lily pond, this tran­quil haven might seem like the epit­ome of an English coun­try gar­den. “Ac­tu­ally, it’s full of un­usual spec­i­mens from around the world,” ex­plains owner John Bryant, who lives here with his wife Les­lie. “I dis­cov­ered a lot of the plants while I was in the army, posted over­seas.” Thanks to John’s mil­tary post­ings, he and Les­lie have lived in such far-flung places as Dubai, east and west Africa and Uruguay. “Ev­ery­where we went we made the best of the gar­den, al­though we had to move on ev­ery three years,” he says. Af­ter John’s mother died, he and Les­lie re­turned to the fam­ily home at Tyn­ings in Worces­ter­shire. “We’ve lived here for al­most 30 years now,” he says. “My mother was a very keen gar­dener and she planted some of the trees here, in­clud­ing a gi­ant cherry ‘Kan­zan’, more than 50 years ago. The plant­ing has moved on a lot since then; we’ve added a lot more trees and shrubs, de­spite the fact it’s only half an acre.” Rare and in­ter­est­ing spec­i­mens in­clude the In­dian bean tree (Catalpa bignon­ioides) and an un­usual hy­brid be­tween the In­dian bean tree and the desert wil­low (Chilop­sis lin­earis) known as Chi­talpa tashken­ten­sis ‘Morn­ing Cloud’, which has white and pur­ple fox­glove-like flow­ers. “You can cut it back hard to pro­duce enor­mous leaves, but we leave ours to flower,” says John. Another un­usual ac­qui­si­tion is a Wollemi pine (Wollemia no­bilis).

My mother planted the gi­ant cherry ‘Kan­zan’ 50 years ago

“It’s an Aus­tralian conifer that was thought to be ex­tinct un­til it was re­dis­cov­ered in 1994 in New South Wales,” says John. “I bought mine about 15 years ago when they started to come up for sale. Just to be on the safe side, I bub­ble-wrapped it for the first two win­ters; now it can fend for it­self.” John prefers plants with lush, jungly fo­liage. “Can­nas are a favourite and I grow mine principally for their large, green and red pad­dle-shaped leaves rather than for their vivid flow­ers,” he says. “I’m a bit of an in­stinc­tive gar­dener and buy plants with­out know­ing quite where to put them! Some new can­nas I ac­quired on a visit to RHS Gar­den Wis­ley are a case in point...” Al­though John lifts his canna rhi­zomes and over­win­ters them in a poly­tun­nel to­gether with his ten­der abu­tilon plants, he’s happy to let the dahlias stay un­der­ground, cov­ered with bark mulch. “My vig­or­ous, red dec­o­ra­tive ‘Blais­don Red’ does very well,” he says. “I haven’t had any prob­lems leav­ing them in the ground. I’ll also over­win­ter some of my ex­otic shrubs, such as Mexican Cestrum fas­ci­c­u­la­tum [early jes­samine] in a shel­tered spot out­doors, to­gether with Iochroma aus­trale, which is a trum­pet-flow­ered shrub na­tive to Ar­gentina and Bo­livia. They all make won­der­ful state­ment plants.” One very shel­tered area of the gar­den is pro­tected by a pil­lared fence. “I call it The Great Wall,” says John. “It pro­duces a warm mi­cro­cli­mate where I plant more ten­der

shrubs and large swathes of Turk’s cap lilies, in­clud­ing crim­son Lil­ium pardal­inum gi­gan­teum, but these are prone to lily bee­tle. I spray early in the year, with Provado, and then Les­lie picks any bee­tles off by hand to keep them in check.” Af­ter his re­tire­ment John at­tended talks given by Bob Hares at nearby Per­shore Col­lege. “He talked about grow­ing plants from cut stems, then in­vited the au­di­ence to help them­selves to cut­ting ma­te­rial,” says John. “About a third of the shrubs were grown from those cut­tings.” Les­lie is a keen gar­dener too, but she’s happy to share the plant­ing space with her plan­ta­holic hus­band. “He’s the plants­man and I’m the num­ber one weeder and as­sis­tant gar­dener!” she laughs. “We both en­joy the gar­den equally though; our favourite seat over­looks a small pond, or­na­men­tal bridge and wa­ter feature. The gen­tle sound of wa­ter is very re­lax­ing.”

My vig­or­ous red dec­o­ra­tive dahlia ‘Blais­don Red’ does very well

ROSY OUT­LOOK From English roses and soft pink lace­cap hy­drangeas to daz­zling ‘Blais­don Red’ dahlias and blue-flow­ered cary­opteris, this ro­man­tic coun­try gar­den is full of late sum­mer blooms

GAR­DEN BOUNTY (clock­wise from above) Dahlia ‘Blais­don Red’ with blue­flow­ered cary­opteris ‘Worces­ter Gold’ and roses ‘Just Joey’ and ‘Bless­ings’; a rus­tic ar­bour; Musa basjoo, cloud-pruned ul­mus ‘Jac­que­line Hil­lier’ and Wollemi pine; he­lianthus, eu­pa­to­rium and eryn­gium line the path LEFT (L-R) Euony­mus pla­nipes Leyces­te­ria for­mosa; Chi­talpa tashken­ten­sis

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