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A garden to inspire


For a very long time I have been wanting to visit an alpine garden which is open only one day in the year. I saw the 2012 advert but no times were published. I phoned the number given to find out that Jean Band, the lady whose garden it was, had died shortly after the open day last year. Her husband said we would be most welcome to come along on the understanding that teas, plants etc were not going to be on offer. We were thrilled at what we found and although it was a very sunny day I did manage to take some photos to give you a flavour of what is in the garden.
1. The pond

and 2.

Primulas of all shapes and sizes and in colours ranging from white to deep red were everywhere especially Primula Beesiana (Candelabra primulas) . They were reflected in the pond above to great effect.
3. The chaff, left over after daughter Susan, owner of Pitcairn Alpines, has collected her seeds, is scattered in the hen run. The hens leave the resulting plants to flourish.

4. At first glance I thought this was P. Viallii which it definitely is not. Whoops, having had a closer look I think this is an orchid not a primula.

5. and I think these are P. seeboldii showing off the meconopsis.

6. A closer look at this stunning blue flower. In the background the giant leaves of Cardiocrinum are reaching for their eventual height of 2m +. Scented trumpets will adorn these beauties.

7. Around the garden were helianthemums in jewel bright colours.



10.Beautiful grouping choice of tiarella, aquilegia, smilacina racemosa (tall white plumes at the back) and anemone nemorosa Vestal

11.A close up of a stunning aquilegia

12. I think this is Roscoea cautleyoides

13. The towering white rhododendron was hard hit by the frosts earlier in the year but it provided some protection for the red rhododendron and it looks spectacular with that big bank of euphorbia

14. A closer look at the euphorbia

15. and look what is hiding between them. Carved from a dead tree trunk.

A few more to whet your appetite

16. For some reason my camera refused to pick up the solid yellow colour of this flower. Thank you Bulbaholic for id’ing it as Pulsatilla alpina apiifolia.

17. I think this might have been a type of gyphsophilla. Tulipa sprengeri is a late flowering scarlet tulip which likes growing amongst dwarf shrubs which are not in full sun.


19. Birch tree and lilac and a very sculptural tree.

20. I think this is Oxalis enneaphylla.

21. A white daisy flower, chiastophyllum oppositifolium and the seed pods which are all that is left of the helleborus argutifolius

22. Dainty shooting stars of Dodecatheon ? pulchellum

23. This white daisy with stiff grey foliage was the perfect partner for the orange/yellow welsh poppy. NB I saw one on the SRGC stand at Gardening Scotland and found out it is Celmisia. They had a very similar one C. Stricta but I can’t say for sure which one this is.

We were invited to take tea and Jeans husband showed us the tribute to his wonderful wife in the AGS magazine which came out in January 2012. She was a remarkable lady. At age sixteen, soon after she left school, just after WW2 she realised that with all the devastation in Europe there was going to be a shortage of cut flowers. She built a very successful business supplying the wholesale market throughout the UK. As time went on she felt the need to diversify and started growing Christmas trees and heather. She supplied the travelling families with white heather so if you bought a bit of lucky white heather it probably came from here. In the 70’s when heather beds were planted and very fashionable, in all likelihood this is where those plants originated. She got married and had children and always kept an eye on her business even when she had to move to several different places throughout the uk to be with her husband. Shortly after her last Open Day she took ill and died. It was a shock for the family and for her wide circle of friends and colleagues. They knew her as a vibrant active woman. She lives on in the wonderful inspiring garden which she built and which she shared with those lucky enough to see it. We felt very privileged to have been allowed to visit and enjoy it. Her daughter Susan is carrying on in mums footsteps. She set up and owns Pitcairn Alpines which is to offer retail sales on the internet for the first time this year. Until now she has been strictly trade sales only. We wish her well in her new enterprise and would recommend a look at her website if you want something different.

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What a lovely blog, Sg...and what a remarkable woman. It's good to know that her legacy remains in that beautiful garden and in her daughter.

I have, indeed, bought some of that "lucky white heather" - too scared not to! lol

Is it just alpine chaff that Susan throws into the chicken pen, do you know?

31 May, 2012


I'm sorry Kf. I dk. I admired those lovely candelabra primulas growing in the hen run and was told they were not planted as such but just appeared and that she threw the chaff, left over when she was collecting seeds, from her plants. It might be worth throwing a packet of primulas seeds in to your hen run and see if anything grows. Maybe rake them in a bit. My next door neighbour used to throw all her garden waste in to the hen run and the hens tidied it up. She did not really grow flowers except for roses but the hen run grew fantastic wild flowers. I planted my heather rockery and hope the plants came from her. She only sold to the trade so its very possible. I'll think of her now as I clip back this years dying flowers.

31 May, 2012


Sounds good Scot. when your hens grow a better garden than yourself!! Lol Love this blog, what a beautiful garden too and so nice to think it will be cared for for many years to come.

31 May, 2012


Well, I just happened to see primula seeds in the supermarket today. I bought some mixed wild-flowers, aubretia, campanula and aquilegia...but no primulas!!

Think I'll try throwing in some of the aquilegia and the wild flowers, though - I've got enough of them for 20 m2!
Then maybe go back for some primulas...

I really hope that your heather came from her too - it's nice to think about where plants came from when tending them and it seems more than likely that she was the one that once did. :)

31 May, 2012


That's a wonderful place, and what a shame the owner died so suddenly.
Good luck to her daughter in her venture ...

31 May, 2012


Thanks everybody. My OH was totally captivated with the garden. He loves to work with stone. When we heard that every time she heard of a building being demolished she was right there asking for the stone, he was thrilled. She certainly had vision and has inspired us both. He has been recruited to the gardening fraternity and can't wait to start shifting a heap of stone we have in the garden to try and emulate some of the ideas we saw. I have not divulged the cost of the shredded bark, compost and grit we will need to mix to build it up but I have lots of suitable plants waiting for a new home. I got a retail catalogue and there are other plants on offer on the website so I have been trying to be sensible about how much to buy this year and how much can wait until next year by which time we should have some space to plant them.

31 May, 2012


It was as you described yesterday S....super garden, it all looks great. Seeing the mecanopsis made me think of your new ones :)
Best not to tell him until you have to about the cost of the bark etc. It may put him off :)
Your new alpine garden is going to look super!
I do like that little white daisy in the last picture and the one you think is Roscoea cautleyoides.
Good luck to Pitcairn Alpines on their new venture - a successful one hopefully!

31 May, 2012


Thank you Scottish. I enjoyed your flying visit yesterday and your presents. It was lovely to put a face to a name at last and we'll need to arrange another meeting soon. I got up late this am and was all set to go and plant up but it was too wet to go in to the garden. I have done very little. I'm hoping I can get on with some work tomorrow and I am looking forward to Gardening Scotland on Saturday. If any other Goyer is going on Saturday come and say hello at the pallet garden stand between 4pm and 6pm.

31 May, 2012


Aah! You two met up! :)

I'm feeling strangely envious...I am a Scot and far from home...!

...and I was going to meet KarenSusan last time I was home...but, I was there just not long enough...mother, son, daughter and grandchild took up all the time I had, which I couldn't and wouldn't have changed...,'re keeping "budget" secrets too, then, hmm?

31 May, 2012


I'm a quick learner and far be it from me to dash OH's enthusiasm with dull irrelevancies. Dundee is not far from us either so you can come and visit us both next time you are over Kf. Scottish and I live about 20 mins away from each other so I don't think this will be the last visit.
You are only a click away really. I had a little accident with my skype and not being a techophobe I'm off it at the moment or I could talk to you. Take care.

31 May, 2012


My cockles are warmed, Sg :)
...coming home end of June...probably not for long enough...again... :(

31 May, 2012


Quick cup of coffee in Dobbies in Dundee then Kf. First Scottish convention of Goyers LOL.

31 May, 2012


Great idea! :)))

1 Jun, 2012


A very nice blog, Sg, which does full justice to Jean's garden. Don't tell me that you are rubbish at photographs either, these are fine.
The pulsatilla that your camera did not pick up very well is Pulsatilla alpina apiifolia and it indeed a stunning yellow. We have it and they have just gone over.

1 Jun, 2012


So glad you had a good time, Scotsgran. What a lovely garden - some beautiful plants. Loved the blog.

1 Jun, 2012


Thank you Bb you are very kind. I did want to portray her garden and not my ideas so I'm glad you like what you see. Thank you for the name of the yellow flower. I did not think of Pulsatilla but that is a plant to treasure. I see Beeches sell it so maybe I can get my son to pop in for one if they still have them available at the nursery. Thank you Melchisedec I enjoy visiting other gardens and I have been very fortunate to see this one. I'm not sure if it will be open to the public in future. Not once did we feel that anything jarred on the senses as being in the wrong place. It all looked so natural and effortless unless you know from experience of the hard work that goes in to creating and maintaining a garden like this. I hope your seeds grow in the hen run Kf. Maybe we'll all meet one of these days.

1 Jun, 2012


I loved this blog, so interesting and how lovely that the lady has left such a beautiful legacy behind to be carried on by her daughter. Good luck to her in her venture.

3 Jun, 2012


I'm pleased you enjoyed it Gee. I was at Gardening Scotland yesterday and today and saw a plant very like No. 23 above on the SRGC stand. They tell me it is a Celmisia. I have written it in at No.23

3 Jun, 2012

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