A visit to the national collection of geums
‘I have 115 different varieties of geums’ says Sue Martin who holds the national collection. The irresistible crinkly papery flowers are available in a wide range of colours from subtle shades of dusky pink to bright orange. ‘They are such useful plants in late spring flowering from February until June and the seed heads are also very attractive.’
Extremely versatile plants, being equally at home in a grand herbaceous border or a diminutive cottage garden. No garden should be without at least one.
To wander around Sue’s garden in Frittenden, Kent is a delightful experience. It is the creation of a true plantswoman brimming with interest in both the design and the choice of plants at every turn. There is a charmingly heady profusion of different colours, textures and leaf shapes. At first, it is not perhaps apparent that it has been carefully planned, but the more one looks, the more one can see a keen eye behind the plant juxtapositions and the overall layout of the beds and the vistas luring the eye ever onwards. Not surprisingly it has been featured in numerous magazines over the years.
When Sue bought the house 33 years ago the entire garden was devoted to vegetable growing. Gradually over time she has created a quintessential English cottage garden. Like so many horticulturalists, it was her grandmother who first instilled her love of gardening as a child.
Sue discovered geums by chance buying one – Montana – at a plant fair from the revered plantswoman, Elizabeth Strangman of Washfield Nursery. From then on she was hooked ‘I bought one every time I saw one.’
One day she came across a picture of a geum called ‘Lemon Drop’ ‘but it didn’t look like a bit like mine.’ This prompted her to contact the then holder of the national collection of geums and ended up visiting her in Devon and in due course eventually taking over the national collection.
Geums grow best in a moisture retentive heavy soil. Geum rivale prefer a semi-shady position.
1 Brickwall Cottages, Frittenden, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2DH.
Open by appointment for groups of up to 30. Adults £5. Children free. 01580-852425.