Doug and Linda Smith first moved to Wickham in 1986; upon arrival the bare remains of an Orchard was their garden. Through plant collections and trials of plant hardiness, Doug and Linda have created a haven for plant collectors, featuring three National Plant Collections that are featured within our display today. Most of the early plantings were of species obtained and validated by the late Andrew McConnell of the Eucalyptus Nurseries at Celyn Vale. Doug and Linda were awarded NPC status in 1997 for their Eucalyptus Collection.
Their home, Meon Orchard, is a frost pocket, even though only 13 miles from the south coast they needed some hardy trees. The couple decided to trial a number of Eucalyptus species for hardiness on their site and their effectiveness in providing light dappled shade. Over the years they have trialled some 67 taxa and have 35 remaining.
Podocarpus have the common name of Southern Yews. They and other members of the Podocarpaceae range from dwarf alpines to New Zealand’s tallest tree. Many of the named forms Doug and Linda hold were obtained from the late Graham Hutchins of County Park Nurseries in Essex, both who collected and bred a range of New Zealand Podocarpus.
The couple believed that this group needed future protection and have planted out the full range of his plants, with only a very few losses. The RHS Plant Finder 2016 now lists 34 Podocarpus and 10 other members of the family: Doug and Linda are currently growing over 80. They were awarded NPC status in 2005 for their Collection of Podocarpus and related Podocarpaceae.
Part of Doug and Linda's Podocarpus Collection
Podocarpus acutifolius ‘Golden Lady’ (f)
Podocarpus chinensis var. chinensis
Podocarpus lawrencei ‘Alpine Lass’ (f)
Podocarpus macrophyllus ‘Aureus’
Podocarpus matudae (f)
Podocarpus matudae (m)
Podocarpus nivalis ‘Kralingen’
Podocarpus nivalis ‘Rockery Gem’
Araliaceae: The Ivy or Genseng family. Doug and Linda have 82 different taxa.
This Collection is based on the genus Pseudopanax. A NPC of this plant group was held at Ventnor Botanic Garden for many years, and when it was given up the couple decided to build a new one. The distribution of Pseudopanax and their close relatives, Neopanax, ranges from the top to the bottom of New Zealand, plus some outlying islands. There is therefore a range of hardiness, with the ‘lancewoods’ being perhaps the hardiest, the big leafed ‘five fingers’ grow well in areas without severe frosts.
A famous nursery in New Zealand (Duncan and Davies) bred a range of hybrids with the more tender P. lessonii, and since then a whole range of spontaneous sports have resulted from open pollination, many in UK greenhouses. The couple now have a large number of worthy taxa, and are trialing these in the open.
List of the genera currently represented in the Collection
With some relatively recent Collections, a range of Schefflera species have become available, and they now have a range of these. More recently, they have managed to obtain a selection of Oreopanax species; generally tender, these were popular stove-house plants in the Victorian era. They have also added a range of hardy Asian Eleutherococcus and Metapanax, plus representatives of other genera.
Doug and Linda were awarded NPC status in 2005 for their Collection of Araliaceae (excluding Hedera).
Doug and Linda's Plant List
The plants that we are featuring from Doug and Linda Smith’s Collection:
Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Purpureus’
Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Rangitira’
Pseudopanax ‘Moa’s Toes’
Pseudopanax ‘Morning Star’
Schefflera aff. taiwaniana
Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’
Podocarpus acutifolius ‘Golden Lady’
Podocarpus lawrencei ‘Alpine Lass’
Podocarpus macrophyllus ‘Aureus’
Podocarpus nivalis ‘Arthur’
Podocarpus nivalis ‘Kilworth Cream’
Podocarpus salignus x totara
Podocarpus ‘Autumn Shades’
Podocarpus ‘County Park Fire’
Podocarpus ‘Lucky Lad’
Podocarpus ‘Soldier Boy’
Podocarpus ‘Young Rusty’
Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Gold Splash’
Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Nigra’