Over the Christmas period it has been good to visit the Garden as someone who is interested in plants. I’m reminded straight away what a remarkable collection of half-hardy plants have been amassed at Ventnor over the years. So many plants have very personal stories attached to them, and how they came to Ventnor. A short walk could literally make me laugh and cry simply by remembering how the plants arrived. Some came from nurseries where we have had to beg for the smallest cutting, others gifted by generous individuals. Some donations from Friends with a capital F and some friends with a lower case f. Many plants from the wild; a recent reading of Plant Hunter’s Paradise by Frank Kingdon-Ward gave a whole new insight into a plant I’ve overlooked here for some time, planted by Hillier in the 1970s.
Inevitably you find you personalise the plant collection and there are a number of plants here that arrived with me from previous gardens, some have been following me for some time, each garden has one or two left from when I’ve passed through.
The highlight on my last viewing was Correa lawrenceana. I first saw this plant at Ventnor in 2000 and admired it greatly. Amongst the Correa its flowers are rather subtle, but the colour of its leaves and young growth in dim light is something to behold, held in an upright column which only becomes apparent after many years. In 2001 I made the mistake of assuming the plant had been propagated before its removal (the whole Australian section of the garden was being rehomed). Since that time I’d been looking for replacements rather unsuccessfully, the trade is full of Correa alba masquerading as C. lawrenceana. Travelling with a very dear friend, sadly no longer here, on holiday in November 2012, I found a handsome plant and bought it immediately. It travelled with us for several days in the back of the car, seeing many sights. It is now established at Ventnor, the memory of how it arrived both happy and sad.