Q: My husband and I recently went to Newby Hall, near Ripon, and took a picture of a wonderful plant and I haven’t been able to discover its identity. I would love to grow one.
A: Visiting private gardens, both stately and somewhat smaller, can be a wonderful and illuminating experience; it can encourage people to seek to grow the stunning plants laid out before them – and it can also lead to misery.
A plant that grows well in the sheltered, walled garden may well turn up its roots in a colder, less favourable spot. Another plant may thrive in a damp, well-constructed soil but try growing it in a dry, perhaps acidic soil and it will most likely die.
But gardeners are nothing if not optimistic, So we get to the Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora), which is certainly a sight to behold.
It isn’t a shrub for your average garden – it often suckers and forms extensive colonies via underground runners and it can grow 15ft tall and the same in width, so it’s not one for a confined space.
Having said that, Aesculus parviflora can be trained to shape. In the USA it is grown widely, preferring an average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Give it its ideal growing medium and it will plump for a rich, moist loam. It doesn’t like dry soil.