Photo diary 2018
“Exotic flowers grown at Bocombe” is the theme for our 2018 Photo Diary. Feast your eyes on our exotic blooms – and the rest of the landscape - when we open our Garden during May this year. Or stretch the seasons by bringing your group of ten or more from the start of March, with thousands of bulbs, to the end of July, with summer flowering shrubs and perennials!
In the grounds of the Bibi Ka Maqbara mausoleum at Aurangabad, India we enjoyed many garden features, including exotic tiled and sculptured pools. Here’s one of the many repeated flower motifs – a depiction of the lotus flower, Nelumbo nucifera.
Probably better known for its vegetative propagation techniques than its flowers, this succulent readily produces plantlets (epiphyllous buds) that root astonishingly easily, but with the right conditions will also flower. Bryophllum tuberosum.
Scrambling through a hedge or two is this delightful blue flower from China. The typical hood of Monks Hood, but a climber. Aconitum hemsleyanum.
A plant from the South Eastern American swamps with an array of exotic blooms. Next to the flower stalks you can just spot the pitchers that give this plant its common name, a Pitcher Plant, growing happily in our Frog Pool. Sarracenia flava.
Here’s a flower not often found in gardens. Firstly, it’s a vegetable. Secondly, if you want to harvest the root then don’t let this biennial flower! But a stunning addition to any border. Visitors to our garden are stumped by it. Salsify (Tragopogon porrifoliu).
This month’s flower looks like something from the "Little Shop of Horrors". First there’s the stupendous stench from the magnificent spathe. Latter, wonderfully divided foliage and a mottled stem. There are many, many "Voodoo Lilies" belonging to the Arum family! Most are not widely grown and are poorly recorded. Could this be Amorphophallus stipitatus or A. konjac?
We’ve grown this water meadow plant at Bocombe for well over a decade. It is rather particular about where it lives, and after numerous attempts at planting the bulbs we’ve at last established a few thriving colonies, mainly by seeding themselves to ground they like. The Snakes Head Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris.
Many years ago we discovered this exotic conservatory plant from South Africa on a fruit and veg stall at Barnstaple’s Pannier Market. It’s easy to grow in well drained compost, and it produces many exotic flowering stems year after year. Keep it on the top shelf of the greenhouse once it dies back in the late spring. Leave the bulbs completely dry. When the very first green shoots appear just before Xmas feed and water well. The Cape Cowslip, Lachenalia tricolour.
A plain flower as modern Camellias go. But very early, in fact, with a very mild winter this year these white blooms began appearing during January. At their best in March when the temperature rises a little and frosts at Bocombe have abated. The exotic part is the en masse 10m long hedge all in flower together. Camellia japonica alba simplex.
Some years ago we enjoyed "A Day in China" – a garden visit and, after lunch, an illustrated talk. The garden, large and rambling with few formal paths, contained lots of interesting plants. At one point the owner took us aside to show us one of his more precious, rare specimens. On a damp, shady hillside were a few struggling plants, from China, of course. His pride and joy. 'Oh!' we said, 'it grows like fury at Bocombe Mill Cottage.' Chrysosplenium macrophyllum.
Growing flat on the ground, these saucer size, groups of flowers appear on bare earth in the middle of winter. We’ve a large area where they thrive in the moist, almost wet, ground at the edge of our main stream. In the spring massive leaves a metre across on long stalks a metre high appear. Petasites japonicus giganteus.
Our 2017 Photo Diary
"Vistas of Bocombe" was the theme for our 2017 Photo Diary. Enjoy the vistas when we open our Garden during May and June this year, or stretch the seasons by bringing a group of 10 or more from the start of March with thousands of bulbs, to the end of September with autumn flowering shrubs and perennials!
A vista along our wooded valley at Bocombe, in the direction of the sea, as the sun sets creating a glorious "Red Sky at Night"...
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A dull day with an autumn vista, or is it early winter? From the top of Goat Hillside across to Parkham Church, half a mile away. There’s a selection of Conifers and Hydrangeas around the house, and masses of native trees on up the hill.
A view across the Summer House deck. The Clematis tangutica is in fine form this autumn. To the right is the Cedar Pool, and above the pool the fronds of Trachycarpus fortunei. Beyond the pool the glaucous foliage of Artemisia Powis Castle leads up to the light foliage of Cornus contaversa variegata, then the golden foliage of the rare Ulmus minor Dicksonii, the huge Eucalyptus gunnii and on up the hillside to a vista of massive native hedgerow trees (mainly beech and ash).
We’re surrounded by our own trees at Bocombe! In the distance are oaks, beech and willows. In the middle distance with a spire is a Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), and in front are River Birch (Betula nigra), preceded by (the now banned by the EU for any new planting) Gunnera tinctoria, native to South America. In the foreground are the last few flowers of the Day Lily Bed, and in the Upper Water Aponogeton distachyos (Water Hawthorn).
A short vista, but one going all the way across – an urn! This year the Urn on the House Terrace is planted with an outside ring of Echeveria (with the reddish orange and yellow flowers), then a circle of the succulent Bryophyllum tubiflorum, and in the centre the delightfully variegated leaves of Heliopsis helianthoides scabra. Behind the Urn, in the near distance are the giant leaves of a Colocasia esculenta with the fronds of the palm Trachycarpus Fortunei, and further away the dark purple leaves of Acer palmatum Bloodgood.
A view across the Yellow & Blue Garden. The distance is dominated by the rare Golden Cornish Elm (Ulnus dicksonii). In the foreground are the large leaves and yellow flowers of Inula hookerii, and the blue and white spires of Lupinus The Governor. Take the path in the bottom right to The Hot Garden.
Looking across the Upper Water in spring. The surface is almost completely covered with the invasive Water Hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyos). It has a pretty white flower that blooms for much of the year, with a gentle perfume too! But seeds profusely. If you can’t reach the plant from the side of a pond (to thin it out) we’d advise never planting it.
In the freground is Gunnera tinctoria, and in flower across the water is Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Mariesii', along with various varieties of Clematis montana scrambling through the trees.
A vista down from the House Terrace to the Upper Water, which is presently covered with the attractive but invasive Water Hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyus). The view passes over a recently pruned Fuchsia Mrs Popple, then Persicaria Red Devil (with a couple of small Acers to the left) over the Camelia japonica Alba Simplex hedge, and on to the distant water. There's a row of Iris pseudacorus at the far edge of the water.
The main tree over the near planting is an old Damson Tree (Prunus domestica), just coming into leaf and flower at the same time.
What a sight! Magnolias in full flower. Though still young trees these two specimens line up to take the eye along a path here at Bocombe. The white blooms are from M. kobus and the pink M. sargentiana robusta, only in its third year of flowering.
Looking out across our small Beech Wood on a sunny, spring day the small Narcissus Tete-a-tete are in early bloom. In the distance, beyond the boundary Devon Bank, the vista continues to another hillside wood.
A short vista of scores of Snowdrops, plus emerging narcissus foliage, in the Pieris Bed. This bed sits in the deep shade of a the house, along Damson Walk, and faces East.
A stunning start to the year with a bold winter vista of the Bocombe Valley. Taken a few years ago – it’s not that often we see snow like this in north Devon…