I first saw Prunus subhirtella ‘Hally Jolivette’ about 10 years ago in the Isle of Wight garden of friends living on the west side of the Island in a beautiful house called Dodpits. I was happy living on the main land at that time and had not contemplated for one moment the pleasure and pain of living here. It was a very chilly spring day and rather grey, but the tree flowered delicately without an ounce of ostentation against the buff stone walls of their kitchen courtyard and I have never forgotten it.
These days, despite only being in mid age, I have a failing memory for detail, especially people’s names, but I never forget where I first saw a lovely plant and in this case, have harboured a hope for the right spot for it for over a decade.
Today my tree arrived, with a small group of other plants, to fill spaces in the White Garden. ‘Hally Jolivette’ actually blushes a little bit pink, but so do many of the ‘white’ plants. You will see from glancing back at ‘Gardening Wounds for my White Garden’, that the signature plant here is Hydrangea ‘Mme Emile Mouillere’, which takes on pink and russet hues as she ages. If only we could all age with such grace! So it is all really very ‘pinky-white’.
There are a few plants in this delivery that I have harboured a secret hope for: Fuschia magellanica ‘Hawkshead’, white and restrained and spotted at Westonbirt during a plant study day, Styrax japonica, at Hadrian’s Villa and tucked away near the Canariensis borders at the Chelsea Physic Garden, where eagle eyed visitors can enjoy it, Myrtus communis ‘Nana’, inherited in my first garden on the Island, a lovely compact form of this beautifully scented plant, Mahonia gracilipes, grown in the greenhouses at the Saville Garden, a little tender and so striking with its powdery white underside to the leaves (and yes, I am going to risk this outside as it currently grows happily out in Winchester) and Prunus mume ‘Omoi-No-Mama’ planted because, well just because it is a beautiful white almond and I have to be honest, I don’t remember where I first saw it. Shall we say Japan, as that sounds a little pretentious, doesn’t it.
As a final note on this, having recently rediscovered the Bacon’s planting list for the White Garden, I found that the only plant which I have added since arriving, Pileostegia jasminoides, had once been growing here. I am as keen on the late flowering, heady scent of this plant as the bees are, was very pleased to have found it in the sale box at Trewithen in Cornwall last summer and have found a spot against the old moat wall where it can clamber and trail in the sun. The thrill of planting it here again exceeded even that of finding it in the sale box, a thrill of continuity between the garden’s past and my present best efforts for it. And I suppose, whilst I am being emotional about my garden, that plants are a touchstone for memory as much as any object (I am thinking of Mrs Wilcox in her beloved garden at Howard’s End) , so I am gathering mine about me, like the true sentimentalist that I am.
(I have no photos here. All in the garden is bare sticks, but as soon as these plants flower,I will add them here. Google them! The pictures will be superior to mine.)