Mr. Meconopsis

As spring slipped into summer 2013, I was lucky enough to be in Scotland. Perhaps, we should rename it the "Land of Meconopsis"? Ian Christie's fabulous nursery is there, all but hidden in a little town called Kirriemuir. After a relaxed full Scottish breakfast I set out from Edinburgh adjacent in the morning along winding roads that abutted farms. Before long I arrived in a wink-of-an-eye-town: don't blink or you will miss it. The drive through lasted less than a minute. After reversing my steps a couple of times I had to call. Ian is hidden from even Google Maps. This has likely happened before as he himself came out to direct me down the lane. What a fabulous sight: meconopsis in all shades of blue floating adrift over a demure landscape. Who knew blue might come in so many different shades, like a Pantone booklet.

Meconopsis beds
The day was quite gray and overhung, but seeing these beauties lifted the spirits and put a twinkle in the view. Ian is a well known plant guru for several rare species. And meconopsis seem to have captivated him for some time now. The beds there hold probably every known cultivar.
Meconopsis in the shade house
These plants Ian meticulously maintains by division, which he sells to the fortunate gardeners. I did notice the soil was quite rich. Immediately I began to calculate how I might grow them. They would have no problem with the wet cool days of New England, but would need extra water and shade during our (new) overheated dog days of summer. (Hey, if kabs can make it, why not meconopsis?)
True Blue
 What surprised me most was the color variation. Yes there is even an alba form. Next I noticed differences in the size, from salad plate size to handful. Thinking it over - given a century of hybrids or cultivars, I see how everyone got to choose. I wonder how many medals it took. Was it an annual event - to see what next in meconopsis winners?
Ethereal Blue
One thing for sure - meconopsis are hearty eaters. Yes the soil was quite remarkable: rich, friable and deep. Years of composted leaves turned the clay to brown gold. Seems, though, from the banter as we walked along, that they would be indiscriminate as to the type of compost. Made me think vegetable beds soil. Where can I squeeze some in?
Meconopsis punicea
Although blue cultivars predominated, the red of punicea was pretty dazzling too. Of course I shall have to try it at home too. What a red!

Crevice garden
 Sure there were a few other things Ian grows... to perfection. His double Trillium grandiflorum is much larger than what I've seen on my side of the Atlantic. My mouth salivated. Glaucidium palmatum self sows in the most unlikely places. And the soil is so loose seedlings almost lift out. There was also the requisite orchid or two, and claytonia, and arisaema, and, and.

Amazing huh! What a treat to visit the home and nursery of this wonderful gardener. Just following him around was a learning experience. Oh Bonnie Scotland! Thank you Ian.


Barbara van Achterberg said…
I think the only way they would survive a summer in Connecticut would be to be planted in an air-conditioned alpine house. I speak from experience having imported some from the Netherlands in April, 1978, back when importing plants was easier. Since they had to be bare rooted, I planted them immediately, jet lag and all, in a lightly shaded cool spot. They grew beautifully until June, when they turned slowly to mush.
RiverView said…
Thanks for all the lovely photos! They leave me drooling for a true rock garden and some rich earth to grow some mec's.
How did you find time in your busy schedule to visit Scotland?
Cliff Booker said…
Another excellent report from an extraordinary nursery, grower and garden.

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