Visit to Harry Hay's Garden

Mary Sue Ittner
Sun, 20 Jun 2004 07:04:32 PDT
Dear All,

When we were in the U.K. visiting with the Victors, David Victor was kind 
enough to drive us to see Wisley Gardens and then to visit with Harry Hay 
as well. Lee Poulsen told us about his visit to Harry in January. Those of 
you who were not subscribed to our list then can find his post in the 
January 2004 (January 19th) archives. Lee made a wiki page for Harry called:…

If that does not wrap, it can also be accessed from:…

We arrived at 2:30 p.m. and finally finished the tour after 6 p.m. It is a 
little mind boggling as Lee said to think that one person could have grown 
that much. He is still starting seeds every year!! Harry told us as a 
former pig farmer he was used to hard work, but now in his 80ties he has 
slowed down. He doesn't always get into his garden now until 8 or 9 
a.m.  He takes a break for lunch and tea and when it is light often works 
until 9 p.m.

Harry has a lot of greenhouses with plants crammed in them and a lot of the 
bulbs are grown in them. Only one is heated however. Still, there must be 
some protection from the wind and rain by being in the houses. I asked 
about how much he waters in the green houses and he said he knows what his 
plants need so he waters by hand giving different plants different amounts.

Harry grows hardier things outside in a number of raised beds. Being in 
central England with no ocean influence it can get quite cold where he 
lives although he must have created a lot of microclimates with all the 
trees he has planted. He is so close to the freeway that bisected his 
property that it can be difficult to be heard as there is always a roar in 
the background. But you can't see any of it as he has planted so densely. 
The Moraea alticola referenced on his page was growing in the ground. We 
were interested in his Erythronium/Hosta beds. You could only see a few 
seedpods of the Erythroniums as they were going dormant poking through the 
Hostas which were now leafed out. (You can see the hostas in the background 
of the Dichelostemma picture.) So that is an idea for anyone who grows 
both. He told us that he had a number of things blooming this year that 
hadn't bloomed before or didn't usually bloom because last year was 
unusually dry and warm in the U.K.

I have added a number of unusual and not so unusual things we saw in bloom. 
I have a few more pictures to add one sometime, but one requires me to make 
a Nomocharis page and I didn't write down the species name and I'm a bit 
confused by which Tropaeolum was which so may wait on those until David is 
back and can help me. Instead of having you look on all the different wiki 
pages, I put links to the pictures on Harry's page and to the wiki pages if 
you want to read more about the plants.

One that I wrote a bit more about on his page was Pseudogaltonia. Harry 
described these large bulbs as looking rather like coconuts and weighing 
over a kilo. They took 21 years from seed to flower! Now that is patience 
for you. The flower picture was taken through the greenhouse window because 
Bob would have had to step on something to get close enough for the 
picture. There were some interesting Irids I was unfamiliar with and I 
thought that Muscari was really unusual as well. Harry is very interested 
in the correct identification for his plants and where he acquired them. 
There was so much to see I'm afraid I didn't always get all the information 
about the pictures. Can anyone tell me more about Olsynium biflorum? I 
couldn't find out much about it.

I hope you enjoy looking at what was blooming the day we visited in late 
May 2004. We felt very grateful to David for taking us as it was a lot of 
driving to get us there and back.

Mary Sue 

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