A tour with Roy Lancaster

The day consisted of a visit to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens for a tour, (where Roy was the first curator in the 1970’s) before heading back for a tour of his own garden. This was proceeded by a vast spread of cake; freshly made and presented by Roy’s wife!

I probably just lost you there at cake, I promise I’ll come back to that, but alas, I shall cover the rest of the tour first!

Roy’s tour had a touch of uniqueness, as not only did he converse botanical information about the planting and its history (such as that of Clerodendron bungii), but some were the creation from seed he had brought back with him from his various travels.

During the tour, Roy conveyed his view on the importance of retaining a wide scope of interest within the horticultural sector, but it was also clear to see where his passions lay, and seemed particular fond of the collection of mexican oaks he had established with the garden (such as Quercus tomentella.)

Roy was particularly fond of the elms that remained in the garden after surviving the outbreak of ‘Dutch elm disease’ and shared his way of identifying these trees by their leaf. The way to distinguish an elm from any other tree is that one side of the leaf starts earlier along the petiole than other.

A short drive from Hillier’s lead us to Roy’s home in Hampshire, where a tour of his garden followed. With a collection of over 1000 plants, it was a honeypot for a plant lover and a true plantsman garden. Plants ranged from the simple to the rare, to the exotic. Not only was there a great collection; Roy had used them in ways to fit with what worked well on his site, showing importance of understanding soil profiles and types. His front garden, for example is baked, dried sand in long periods of sun, whereas at the back it is a more moisture and nutrient retaining clay.

One favourite plant of mine was a Cordyline indivisa which had large strappy foliage, and an Acer tegmentosa which has fascinating stripy green bark!

Oh and here’s a picture of the cake display, I think it speaks for itself, I was stuffed!

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