It's one of my favourite gardens. Unlike many of the gardens here in South West England the soil isn't that acid so Rhododendrons are not the dominant feature at this time of year. Instead, the original owner and subsequent National Trust gardeners have concentrated on an interesting mix of southern hemisphere plants and exotics such as palms and bananas.
As with any UK garden, even one in such a mild area (warmer than Plymouth, 25 miles up the coast), the garden is only just coming into growth. The open ground bananas - mostly Musa basjoo though I've also seen Musa sikkimensis in the past - are still bare pseudostems, the tree ferns - relatively untouched after a reasonably mild winter - have only just started to produce the first of this years flush of fronds; and a lot of the tender perennials they specialise in are still, sensibly, to break from their winter dormancy. Even so, it was enjoyable to dodge the spring showers and enjoy a sunny day in a garden I haven't visited for a couple of years.
Given the harsh winters we've had recently it was good to see that their large (for the UK) Phoenix canariensis is still going strong at the furthest reach of the garden.
|Phoenix canariensis at Overbecks|
Trachycarpus fortunei are everywhere and a nice Butia capitata is increasing in size unchecked, as far as I can see, by recent winters. Best of all, Juania australis, is thriving in one of the beds below the house.
|Juania australis at Overbecks|
I'm always interested in seeing what else of interest will thrive in the favoured microclimate of the terraced gardens of Overbecks. They grow some Citrus in the ground though I noticed that these have been heavily damaged where they had no overhead protection. More interesting from my point of view as possible contenders for growing in my warmest border were good plants of the pretty pea relative, Polygala dalmasiana, and Cestrum x newellii. Both flower for long periods - year round if its warm enough - and are small enough to fit into the available space. The Cestrum I should grow for sentimental reasons if nothing else. In September 1973 I'd started a masters degree in Ecology at Bangor, North Wales. One of the first practicals was a botanical key session - and this Cestrum was the first plant on the list to key out and identify.
|Cestrum x newellii|
|Astelia nervosa 'Westland'|