My most recent visit to Ardtornish Gardens

12th October, 2016. Weather was good for my recent visit. Weeds growth has slowed down. I had quite a lot of planting to do, mainly seedlings from the garden - Davidia involucrata, Enkianthus campanulatus and hybrid rhododendron seedlings of R.thomsonii parentage. The first batch of bulbs went in - Camassia leichtlinii caerulea, Chionodoxa lucillae, Tulipa batalinii Bright Gem and Tulip Tarda, Triteleia Queen Fabiola and some Nomocharis aperta I had grown from seed. Allan is keeping the garden in very good order.

Trees. Many trees are now showing autumn colours. Katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, with its wonderful scented leaves at this time is one not to be missed. Even once the leaves are shed, they still give off that sweet scent as you walk through them. Maples are always good as are some cherries such as Prunus sargentii. Davidia too. There are still lots of berries waiting for the birds and pine martens.

Shrubs. Hydrangeas are still good and the paniculatas are now in flower. Some deciduous azaleas turn a deep red in autumn as does Enkianthus perulatus, a shrubby cousin to Enkianthus campanulatus, a small tree, which turns yellow and orange in autumn. It is easy to forget how important good evergreen foliage is at any time of the year. Many rhodendrons here are grown for their leaves.

Chinese Gentian Schizostylis coccinea

Schizostylis coccinea is one of several plants called the Kaffir Lily. It is often still flowering in November. It is from South Africa so may be killed in a hard winter. It prefers a moist climate but will survive in drier areas.

Chinese Gentian, Gentiana sino-ornata is one of the best alpines for autumn. I grow it in rock crevices and on dry, stony banks. Easily propagated by dividing the thongs in spring though it can be done later. Needs an acidic soil.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum Coral Bark Maple

Coral Bark Maple, Acer Senkaki has lovely pale green leaves which turn yellow in autumn. Once the leaves drop, the coral young stems make this a small tree with year round interest.

The Katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonicum is one of the garden highlights in autumn with scented leaves of lovely colours. Earlier in the season, the leaves go from bronze to light green and appear in neat layers. In winter, the purplish seed pods loog good when seen close up.

"The Ardtornish Garden" by Faith Raven includes a short history of the Garden, with photographs of the people who have owned it and of the people who have worked in it and of the plants they grew. It describes the changing colours of the seasons in the Garden and how the work of the gardener has to fit in with the difficulties of the climate. Take a tour of the Garden using the detailed maps and see some of the best view points and the most interesting plantings.
Priced £10 plus £2.60 p&p.   "The Ardtornish Garden"

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