Thursday, 23 May 2013

A Visit to Stone Lane Gardens

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of spending the day at Stone Lane Gardens in Devon, holder of Plant Heritage National Collections of Betula and Alnus. My focus of the day was on the birches, with this being a genus we are currently working on at Westonbirt.

I spent the day with the Garden Manager, Paul Bartlett, who generously shared both his time and knowledge, allowing me to benefit hugely from time spent at the garden.

For those that aren’t familiar with Stone Lane, the garden was created by the late Kenneth Ashburner, with wild sourced birch and alder from across the temperate world. Located on the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park at 800 feet above sea level, it presents more challenging growing conditions than areas in the south of the county! Further information on the garden can be found here.

I was also pleased to pick up a copy of the long awaited monograph on Betula, by Kenneth Asburner and Hugh McAllister, which will provide much reading pleasure for some time, for sure!! 

Below are a few photos taken on the day – only a few, as much time was spent taking notes, rather than photos!

Paul propagates many of the birches in the garden by wrapping the female catkins,
then adding the males once they are ready, to avoid cross pollination. 
He assures me this is much trickier than it sounds!

The nursery at Stone Lane, offerering a fine selection.

Male and female catkins of B. megrelica, a rarity from a single mountain in Georgia. 

Some attractive barks (B. albosinensis in the foreground, B. ermanii 'Grayswood Hill' behind), 
contrasted with lush early season green growth from those and neighbouring plants.

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