Harry Hay's Gardens

Harry Hay and his plants.

Note: Harry Hay died in 2010. For a nice tribute to him please see John Grimshaw's blog. This wiki page was created before his death. Until his death each year he sent out a seed list and distributed seeds at no cost to gardeners and gardens around the world.


Harry Hay has been collecting and growing an amazing variety of bulbs and other plants on a number of acres just south of London right next to the M25. Many photos in the Roger Phillips & Martyn Rix series of plant books were taken at his place. The sheer number of species of bulbs and many other unusual plants and trees that are growing either outside or in a number of different greenhouses set up for various climates is staggering. I had the great privilege of spending an entire afternoon in August of 2003 visiting him and his plants courtesy of Paul Chapman who, it was apparent, is a good friend of his. I managed to take only a few general pictures of his gardens and him. So I have placed these here. All photos taken August 2003 by Lee Poulsen.

Here are a few shots showing various looks out across his "back yard" with all kinds of plants and trees and a few of the greenhouses that are scattered all over this area. In the background you can see various fairly tall Eucalyptus trees he has been growing for several decades. I think he said he is growing about 25 -30 different species. He says he is not in any particularly warmer microclimate.

Harry's garden, Lee PoulsenHarry's garden, Lee PoulsenHarry's garden, Lee Poulsen

Not a very good shot, but a very candid one showing a very typical scene of what you end up doing on a visit to Harry's: Looking at this, that, and the other plant that he has just flowered or sprouted or just gotten from some far-flung part of the globe. This shows the backside of Paul Chapman on the left and Harry Hay himself on the right.

Harry's garden, Harry Hay, Lee Poulsen

This shows Harry Hay and his wife in their kitchen where she will insist on serving you tea and something to munch on. Both of them are quite the characters

Harry Hay and his wife, Lee Poulsen

These are a couple of shots of a Eucomis species that neither Harry nor Paul could identify exactly. Watching them examine the flowers and then Harry running off to fetch some reference book from his library was quite interesting to see. In the end, they could not get an exact match to any of the species listed in the key. It is likely to be Eucomis montana.

Eucomis aff. montana, Lee PoulsenEucomis aff. montana, Lee Poulsen

Another visit by bulb enthusiasts May 2004. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller. This Pseudogaltonia clavata was blooming. Harry said it weighed over a kilo and took 21 years from seed to flower. More information found in Pseudogaltonia.

Pseudogaltonia clavata, Bob RutemoellerPseudogaltonia clavata, Bob Rutemoeller

Other plants in bloom at the same time were:

Bomarea salsilla

Bomarea salsilla, Bob Rutemoeller

Cyrtanthus breviflorus

Cyrtanthus breviflorus, Bob Rutemoeller

Dichelostemma volubile

Dichelostemma volubile, Bob Rutemoeller

Drimiopsis sp.

Drimiopsis sp., Bob Rutemoeller

Hippeastrum evansiae

Hippeastrum evansiae, Bob Rutemoeller

Moraea alticola

Moraea alticola, Bob Rutemoeller

Muscari massayanum

Muscari massayanum, Bob Rutemoeller

Nomocharis aperta

Nomocharis aperta, Bob RutemoellerNomocharis aperta, Bob Rutemoeller

Olsynium biflorum

Olsynium biflorum, Bob RutemoellerOlsynium biflorum, Bob Rutemoeller

Sisyrinchium macrocarpum

Sisyrinchium macrocarpum, Bob Rutemoeller

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Page last modified on March 10, 2011, at 07:47 AM