Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Christie's of Angus...(random images from the first few minutes...)

Granite monument!
I have long been curious about the advertisement that graced the back pages of the Scottish Rock Garden Society's journal alluring speaking of "Christie's Nursery" and I knew it had to be good the way people mention the name ever so casually in connection with the best plants "Christie's has that" or "Only available at Christie's". Needless to say, one more of the numerous highlights of my visit to Scotland last June was a luminous day at this mythical Scottish nursery in the rolling hills of Angus. Why is it when one speaks of Scotland, language seems to grow more sonorous and rich?By the way, Christie is technically retired (although I know he still participates in a few shows and some mail order. Not to America alas!

Glimpse of one of the many rock gardens--here a symphony of white flowers and foliage plants...

Celmisia cv.
Scotland is famous for the ease with which Celmisias grow: this one was primo (and look at the seed on the little one lower right!

Glumicalyx cf nutans
I'm guessing at the Glumicalyx: it could also be flanaganii...South African plants seem to thrive in Scotland!
Dactylirhizas pop up everywhere!
Deep pink form of Saxifraga paniculata
Late June is ordinarily a bit late for the silver saxifrages, but this June was behind the times--there were troughs everywhere filled with them.

A remarkable Thymeleaceae: possibly a Wikstroemia (wish I'd photogrpahed that label on the left!)

A bevy of daphnes--the big one in back looks like a huge Daphne aurantiaca.
Peat beds full of treasures
I believe the dark purple is Epipactis gigantea 'Serpentine night'--the wonderful Western American chatterbox orchid form discovered by Roger Raiche. It's not made it for me yet in Denver--although our collections of the species are hardy here. Oh yes, big clumps of Cypripedium reginae and Lilium Mackliniae.
Closeup of the wonderful Lilium Mackliniae
I found great clumps of this in all the greatest Scottish gardens. I've never seen it in the USA.

More Dactylorhizas--they're practically weeds there...

Bulbinella hookeri--a fabulous New Zealand petaloid monocot that is distressingly rare in America (I have seen it in California). This is an alpine plant that ought to be hardy for us!

Corydalis in the flexuosa group.
I first saw these in 1991, not long after they were introduced. Kath Dryden had one at an Alpine Garden Show--and the British were already rather ho-hum about them.

MORE weedy Dactylorhizas: I did offer to clean them up for him...

And MORE dactylorhizas!
This one has lovely mottled leaves. Notice the Daiswa behind! (That's Paris to most of us)

Yet another stunning Celmisia

Allium insubricum
A stunning clump of one of the most beautiful onions. I purchased two pots from a nursery in Maine last year...when will they do this for me?

A particularly nice dwarf form of Geranium sanguineum

The Rhododendron yakushimanum behind was just past bloom--but we caught the Celmisia in perfect flower.
Another wonderful mound of silver saxifrages

An immense Arisaema of the consanguineum section.

Ian Christie showing off a very old plant of Salix x boydii: not for sale!

Something gorgeous...

Enkianthus campanulatus: one of the Ericaceae I most want to grow!

An astonishing trough: What gorgeous rock work and limestone rocks! Large silver Saxifrage blooming gloriously in the distance.

I can never have enough Celmisias. We can actually grow C. angustifolia in Denver. But not like this!

A huge container filled with Cypripediums (the Dutch and Germans are cranking these out quite cheaply in Europe!)
These may be variations on 'Gisela'

One impeccable alpine house after another.

A little pot of Arisaema urashima
This has to be one of the most enviable pots of jacks I'ver ever beheld!

A greenhouse full of woodland treasure (Trilliums are very popular in Northern Europe of late)

I remember seeing Paris polyphylla everywhere in Yunnan--but even there it didn't look as good as Christie's!

A lot of woodland treasures throughout the nrusery...he is a patient man and has many seedlings in various strages of growth.

An incomparable specimen of Daphne (Wikstroemia) gemmata

J.C. Raulston once gave this plant to me. I wish I had it now!

More wonderful corydalis, and a very happy specimen of Claytonia nivalis in the foreground.

Rhododendron (nakahari complex perhaps?)

Corydalis calcicola: need I say more?

I grew this form of Iris chrysographes from seed that came from Jack Drake many decades ago. I am so glad it's persisting in Scotland...

I must warn you that this was just the very beginning of the nursery: it went on and on and on: Ian has literally HUNDREDS of Meconopsis, and they were all in magnificent bloom: you are spared them because my camera memory was filled and I did not have a backup. Just imagine this show going on for another sixty or hundred panels. The garden is that good!


  1. ... Scotland ... Every rock garden in Scotland is just, well .... Dammit. Seriously, experiencing extreme Scotland envy. Those Scots have got it together, that's for sure.

    You can't grow E. gigantea 'Serpentine Night' in CO? It's happily spreading under a downspout here. I was thinking of dividing it this spring, in fact. We've got a few of the standard native species in good-sized colonies happily growing next to some stream beds up on the mountainside, where it's even colder than here down in the valleys. And they are on steep slopes in really alkaline scree. It's an interesting orchid, for sure. By the way, do you know the story behind 'Serpentine Night's discovery? I know Raiche found its parent population, E. gigantea f. rubrifolia in The Cedars in California, but there seems to be more adventure behind it than that. The Cistus catalog gives this provocative tidbit: "where Parker's dramatic 150 ft. fall led to this plant...and a helicopter ride to the emergency room." I asked if they knew more but this is all they've got.

    Allium insubricum is going to keep me awake tonight. Must get.

  2. Roger is on Facebook--I saw him a few weeks ago at a dinner party in Marin: I should have asked him then. Scotland far exceeds what my feeble lens can show: do go there soon!

  3. some really gorgeous plants there; must rethink my bias towards such northerly latitudes and long winters, as their spring displays are fantastic. Still, it's hard to deny the pleasures of a zone 10 California garden.

    1. Scotland has much to offer year around--their west coast is almost subtropical! But spring there is amazing!

  4. What a wonderful nursery!
    Thank you for this beautiful pictorial trip!


  5. I labeled the "just a few minutes" because it is the tiniest sampling: my camera battery was low: I could have taken hundreds of pictures like this! Ian is astonishing in his skill.

  6. What an awesome garden! Oh and the remarkable potted specimen is Cestrum aurantiacum, if I'm not crazy ;)

  7. Hello Panayoti Your 'something gorgeous',(pic number 29), is another NZer ---Astelia nervosa.
    Great blog by the way.
    Cheers Dave Toole.

  8. Thanks, Dave: I should have passed the pix by Ian before posting. I'm sure I have lots of misidentifications!


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