Thursday, 1 May 2014

Ulster Alpine Society spring show

When April comes around it's time for the Alpine society's spring show at Greenmount College outside Antrim town.
Among other disciplines Greenmount teaches Horticultural courses so I was interested to see what the grounds were like as well as attending the show.
The  area used to be a large estate owned by the Thompson family with the manor house dating from the 1820s

After changing hands it was sold to the Goverment in 1910 where it was transformed into an agricultural college.
I do like a good weeping Ash, Fraxinus excelsior 'Pendula', they've a bit of an Addam's family look to them.

The college buildings are the usual uninspiring utilitarian architecture that you'd expect from a school campus. With the usual boring shrub collection.

But what's that on the gable wall?

Ahh, a green wall. Kind of.

Some plants appear to have done very well, others not so good. It doesn't really stand up well to close (or distant) scrutiny but perhaps that's unfair after taking a winter bashing.

The Dianthus looked relatively happy

As did the Ivy, but I did kinda wonder what the point of Ivy in a green wall is, surely you could just grow it on the wall without all this palaver.

The reason for the show is a competition between entrants for the best plant in each category. I personally go more for the members' sale, as you can pick up all sorts of unusual plants, as well as peruse the stalls of the nurseries who sell their wares.
Despite arriving at opening time I'd already missed out on the pick of the plants as a group had swooped in early, bought the most choice plants and promptly left. 
Still, no matter, I was happy with what I got on the day.

Woodwardia unigemmata at the back, a stunning fern. I've got one that needs to find a suitable spot in the garden, but it has a BIG wingspan.

A cute little Primula.

Rather worryingly I seem to be increasingly attracted to 'old lady' plants, so this auricula came home with me. It has a really nice incense type scent.

 These small uns were little larger than a finger nail.

I spent a happy half hour going through the Scottish Rock Garden Club seed list and picked out a few interesting bits and bobs.

Now onto the main hall to view the plants on display.

 Being April, Trilliums feature heavily.

 I loved thus unnamed Saxifraga species

Its purple bobbly flowers

and tiny silvery leaves

Celmisias are cool little plants, I could see myself building a collection of these in future years

 Yes, it really was that golden!

and a fine leaved silver species

Cute little Narcissus

I had lust for this dark Fritallaria affinis var. tristulis

and Tropaeolun azureum looked good

I find it hard to believe that it's a Nasturtum, but of course it is.

I spotted this small Astelia nivicola and immediately thought of Dangergarden for some reason.

Gypsophila aretioides 'caucasica'

A really nicely scented Paeonia broteroi

and a Soldanella carpatica x pusilla grown to perfection and covered in hanging blooms

Pleione shantung

Afterwards I went for a quick walk around the walled garden, it's all very neat and tidy and I realise it was early in the year, but I was kinda expecting a bit, you know, more. 
I'm sure they're turning out excellent well qualified pupils but there was little in the grounds to inspire or excite.

The Dicksonias suffered like so many others from the bad winter a few years back and still haven't been removed.

This golden leaved Symphytum really stood out among the greens, I wonder if it holds onto the vibrant yellow or if it fades through the summer. 

 The glasshouse in the formal walled garden is quite a grand structure

Mind how you go!

As I left I noticed a drift of Muscari latifolium which were flourishing and alive with bumble bees.
*Note to self must get more of these.