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Conservation Feature July 2022

Notes from My Conservation Scheme Garden

On my allotment I grow the usual items, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, radishes, raspberries and dahlias. But I have one bed in which, over the years, I have planted the Conservation Scheme plants that didn’t fit anywhere else in my conventional garden. This bed is in full sun and has a rich clay soil. It does get hot and dry in the summer, and though wet in winter, it doesn’t get water-logged. Occasionally it gets treated to some homemade compost, which suits it quite well.

It seems to have been my year for Iris. I planted three of them in my Conservation bed. The first into flower in mid-May was Iris variegata var. reginae 'Bozhimir Davidov'. A mouthful of a name, it sparked many comments from my allotment neighbours. It’s a bit of a showstopper with strong purple markings on white falls and soft lavender standards. 

 Iris variegata var. reginae 'Bozhimir Davidov'

Iris x robusta ‘Dark Aura’ AGM

This was quickly followed by Iris x robusta ‘Dark Aura’ AGM, a dark purple stunner. This one has green leaves which are tinged purple from the base and dark stems when the buds appear. It’s truly gorgeous. 

The third one I planted this year is Iris ‘Peter Hewitt’ (Sib) AGM, at least I think it is. Birds or rodents pulled out the label, so this is an educated guess until it flowers next year. 

I planted a good sized Chrysanthemum ‘Dulwich Pink’ AGM in the bed last year. It did really well, putting out it’s bright pink blooms for weeks. This summer it has completely disappeared. What happened there? There have been a lot of ants in the allotment beds this year. Everyone is complaining about them. Could this be the reason? I just don’t know what happened, but luckily I have a replacement waiting in a pot. 

Chrysanthemum ‘Dulwich Pink’ AGM

Crocosmia ‘Vic’s Yellow’

Those HPS members who participate in the Conservation Scheme will know that I am keen to keep growing the plants that have been taken out of the scheme because they are now more widely grown. One of my favourite scheme plants that was not successful with other growers is Crocosmia ‘Vic’s Yellow’. Now, it may be that it is not much different from other yellow flowered Crocosmias. It is more dainty and petite than many of the taller orange ones, only about 30 cm tall, with mid-sized golden yellow bells. There is nothing striking about this plant, but it blends so well with almost any other flowers in the border. I love it. 

But back to the active Conservation Scheme plants. This year I planted Phlox paniculata ‘Caroline van den Berg’ which has been in the scheme since 2008, but I have not grown it before. Her rich pink buds are just about ready to burst open, and I can’t wait to see what she will look like in my garden. I also have what I think is Phlox ‘Terry’ in the same bed. I know I used to grow it, and it came back last year when I cleared half the bed for new plants. This was actively grown in the scheme for many years until it was widely available and archived from the scheme. 
This bed was never intended to be a show garden, and it isn’t. I’m afraid I am more of a plant collector than a garden designer, so my allotment bed is a place to grow, study and enjoy plants, Conservation Scheme plants in particular. It is a constant challenge to keep weeds to a minimum. Bind weed grows particularly well here, but that means that other herbaceous perennials do also. I shall keep planting as many Conservation plants in it as possible, so that I can really see how they grow and if they thrive.

Sally Adams Posted by Sally Adams

Sally joined the Hardy Plant Society in the autumn of 2001, but only as a national member at first. She eventually joined the Essex group and was quickly co-opted onto the committee as Group Secretary. About the same time she also took on the job of Database Administrator for the Conservation Scheme. She worked with various co-ordinators on the scheme for several years, but by 2013 she needed to step down. She has now passed on the office of Group Secretary, but continues to be actively involved in the Essex group.

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