29: Spring 2012

Author: Gwladys Tonge

In praise of Ligularia

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In praise of Ligularia ‘Britte Marie Crawford’
Gwladys Tonge

My first experience of growing Ligularia dentata was in the early 1960’s, after reading Graham Thomas’s description in his ‘Modern Florelegium’. This was a little paper-backed booklet, published by Sunningdale Nurseries price 3 shillings post free, it had a pale mauve cover, and his wonderful prose was my first introduction to the world of hardy plants. Even without the coloured photographs to which we are now accustomed, it was absolutely enthralling. Among the pen-portraits of so many hitherto, to me, unknown delights was Ligularia clivorum (now dentata) ‘Desdemona’:- “… Its leaves are among the most striking we grow, of rich, dark mahogany-green above, fading to metallic green, while below they are of gorgeous plum-crimson”. Who could resist that? I certainly did not, and it was all exactly as he had promised.

Three or four years ago, after seeing the much-acclaimed Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’ in a garden I visited, I bought one, and have grown it in a large pot, with a plant saucer beneath to ensure the required moist soil. It struggled under my crab apple tree where there was too much shade. Next I gave it a more prominent position in a sunnier corner, and it responded by producing even darker leaves and more of its gorgeously-daring, bright orange daisies. However, I felt it was still not getting the opportunity to display itself to full effect .so I moved it once again, this time to the sunniest spot my garden could provide, between the two Ballerina-type apple trees, also in pots, in my drive pot-garden. Oh! the lady is now a very hefty prima ballerina – and this year is flaunting 16 sturdy dark mahogany-red stems each bearing up to five brilliant orange daisies above the dark mahogany leaves, which do not lose their wonderful colour with age. My vocabulary will not stretch to the purple prose that would adequately describe this plant’s magnificence. No one could possibly pass her by unnoticed, and I just wish I had more visitors to applaud her performance. Being in a pot she is not so easily subjected to slug and snail damage. Need I say “Highly recommended”?

First published in the Bucks & Oxon Group Newsletter, Autumn 2011
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 29.
© Copyright for this article: Gwladys Tonge

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2012. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.

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