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Author Topic: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient  (Read 3683 times)

Maggi Young

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Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« on: March 13, 2015, 09:46:21 AM »
Nick Courtens is a horticulturist at the Betty Ford Alpine Garden in Vail, Colorado : he is about to arrive in the UK to learn more about alpine growing in the UK - particularly in the alpine houses of the botanic gardens and some of the best private gardens - he is aided in this project by a grant from the SRGC's Diana Aitchison Grant Scheme.

Nick mentions in his blog the visit of Nicola Ripley of the Betty Ford Alpine Garden to Scotland last October,  when Members may remember that as well as her talk in Edinburgh, she was also a speaker at the SRGC Discussion Weekend.

Nick has written in his blog :

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kew'ing up for the big trip

In about a week I will be flying into London Heathrow int'l and begin an epic tour of England and Scotland's best alpine houses and gardens.

Last fall, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Executive Director, Nicola Ripley, traveled to Scotland to give a talk in Edinburgh where she met members of the Scottish Rock Garden Club. After speaking with them about Betty Ford Alpine Gardens new building that would feature an alpine house, the committee told her of The Diana Aitchison Fund. This annual fund has helped several young professionals gain knowledge and further their career in alpine and rock garden horticulture. When Nicola arrived back in the States, we discussed the opportunity for me to travel to England and Scotland to learn more about Alpine houses, their collections, and management . As most of my knowledge or growing alpines is outside, bringing them inside will be a new challenge and opportunity for the gardens to showcase alpines to the public year round. English and Scottish gardeners are arguably the best at growing alpines indoors so it seemed quite fit for me to visit during their peak show season.


My first visit will be right off the plane to RHS Wisley where I will meet Charlotte Reynolds and staff from the alpine department.

For those interested in my exact itinerary and would like to know where I will be going for the duration of my trip. see below

    March 15th - Depart Denver @ 6:50 pm
    March 16th - Arrive in London @ 8:50 am - Travel and spend full day at RHS Wisley
    March 17th - Spend morning at Wisley - Travel to Kew Gardens
    March 18th - Spend full day at Kew Gardens
    March 19th - take early train to Cambridge Gardens
    March 19th - Spend night in historic city of York
    March 20th - Take train to RHS Harlow Carr Gardens - check out Brimham rocks ?
    March 20th - Take afternoon train to Edinburgh, Scotland
    March 21st - Travel to Stirling for SRGC show, take many photos of perfect plants
    March 22nd - Visit with Ian Christie, tour his home garden and possibly travel to mountains in the highlands
    March 23rd - Travel to Cyril Lafong's private home and gardens - Travel back to Edinburgh
    March 24th - Spend full day at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and tour the collections and famous alpine houses
    March 25th - Spend last full day touring RBGE and sights of Edinburgh, Kevock Alpine Nursery (distilleries a good possibility later on)
    March 26th - Depart Edinburgh @ 11:55am

Phewww. Somewhere in there I will eat and sleep. I will try my best to update this blog as often as possible with photos and stories of each place I visit. Hope you follow my adventures.

Nick


We wish Nick all the best in his trip and we look forward to hearing n more from him in these pages.


Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Julia

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2015, 10:05:23 AM »
We are so pleased that Nick has been award the Grant from the Diana Aitchison Fund.
We look forward to his reports on the forum and I look forward to meeting him at the Kincardine Show.
Julia
Diana Aitchison Fund Administrator
Julia Corden
Head Gardener Goodwood Estate

Maggi Young

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2015, 09:26:13 AM »
Nick is having some difficulties with internet connections and has asked for his blog to be posted  here on his behalf.



Alpine Houses of England and Scotland

Thursday, March 19, 2015
RHS Wisley

Quick note: Apologies to those who were waiting. I have had little internet or time until today.


Weather for the ducks

The day I left Denver, the temperature read 80 degrees fahrenheit. I was in shorts and a T-shirt by the time I boarded the plane for London. This wardrobe soon changed once I landed in London on Monday. It was raining and a damp cold that went straight to the bones. Typical weather for England this time of the year.

Charlotte Reynolds greeted me at the airport around 9:30am and before I knew it, I was walking around Wisley with the curator, Colin Crosbie.


 Curator, Colin Crosbie, explaining the new design of the soon to be replanted rock garden

Fighting the jet lag, I managed to walk around most of Wisley with Colin and ask him several questions about the gardens and its collection of alpine plants. After speaking with Colin for some time, I realized that Wisley is truly a garden that aims to inspire the public and share horticulture in a fun and meaningful way. This also drives the design and collections for the gardens. For example, there are several trial beds where plants are tested for certain qualities before they are introduced into the nursery trade. There is also demonstration gardens that show how to maximize small space for gardeners with less area to work with.

After a short time, Colin and I made our way to the Alpine Houses and Rock Garden
 

Czech Crevice Garden, Alpine Display House, and landscaped alpine house


Tecophilea, Cyclamen, Primula, Hepatica, and several other spring bulbs and alpines were in full bloom in the display house

     
A landscaped tufa area is incorporated into the plunge bed. I liked this idea a lot
 

...continues....
 

« Last Edit: March 20, 2015, 09:34:53 AM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Maggi Young

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2015, 09:29:45 AM »
Nick's report on Wisley  continues.....




The landscaped alpine house used tufa and sandstone boulders to create a mountain scene

 
On the northside of the landscape alpine house, tufa is stacked and several Saxifraga, Haberlea, Ramonda and other shade loving alpines thrive
 

Janina touring me through one of the many back-up alpine display houses

We then toured the backup and nursery houses of the alpine and rock garden areas. It's amazing how many plants are behind the scenes to make the Alpine Display House looking so colorful year round. I learned that for every 1 sq. meter of display space, there is 10 sq, meters of backup pots.

 
The Rock Garden team discussing the new design of the rock garden

After a nice walk around the gardens I explored the rest of the gardens on my own. Charlotte met me at the end of the day and within an hour I was conversing at the local pub with the trainees who attend the Wisley program. It reminded me so much of my time when I studied at Longwood Gardens. I even spent the night in an extra bedroom where all the trainees live.

After some much needed sleep, I spent the second day at Wisley touring and asking more questions to the staff who work in the rock garden areas. I also squeezed a quick visit to the seed library and cleaning facility.

RHS Wisley is an amazing display garden. The detail and care that goes into the gardens is inspiring on many levels. Everyone at the Gardens was exceptionally nice and helpful and I am very glad that I saw it again for the purpose of Alpines.

I am en-route to York via train after a lovely visit to Cambridge Botanic Garden will write another blog about my visit to Kew a little later on.

- Nick   
   
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Maggi Young

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2015, 07:19:23 PM »
Nick attended the SRGC Show at Kincardine today - here he is chatting with George Anderson
( formerly of  RBGE) now a presenter of the Beechgrove Garden TV programme - the show was being filmed for a future  programme.

photo from Julia Corden



"George Anderson (Beechgrove Garden BBC Scotland) talking to Nick Courtens (left) from Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Vail, Colorado,  who is on a study tour of the UK sponsored by The Diana Aitchison Fund SRGC."
« Last Edit: March 21, 2015, 07:25:23 PM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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ichristie

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2015, 08:20:44 PM »
Hello all Ann and I have been looking after Nick since Sat after the Stirling show we had a good walk to Glen Doll today still some snow around then Nick needed some special amber medicine to revive him, pictures from today
Ian ...the Christie kind...
from Kirriemuir

Maggi Young

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« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 07:36:55 PM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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David Nicholson

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2015, 07:31:35 PM »
I don't know Mr Christie, teaching bad habits to impressionable young people. Things like that should be kept for us older guys ;)
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Maggi Young

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2015, 07:41:27 PM »
I had to laugh at this photo from Nick's blog about his visit to the Kincardine Show - he was invited to sit in on the meeting of the Joint Rock Garden Committee -  Nick captions the photo

"Important decisions on plants are made at the Committee meetings"



"Important"  maybe  but seemingly not terribly exciting!

Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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ichristie

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2015, 09:47:37 AM »
Hello Dave a wee (big maybe) awaits your visit.  The Joint Rock Snowdrop is Gal Federkleid from  Hagan it is superb but probably not enough bulbs to get any award, I took Nick to Cyrils he was suitably impressed a few pictures,  cheers Ian the Christie kind
Ian ...the Christie kind...
from Kirriemuir

Maggi Young

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2015, 04:54:26 PM »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Matt T

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2015, 04:48:01 PM »
I'm enjoying Nicks' blog. He has posted the next instalment, where he visits Cyril, master grower of prize winning plants!

http://nickcourtens.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/cyril-lafongs-mansions.html
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Maggi Young

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2015, 06:03:12 PM »
I'm enjoying Nick's blogs - good to see that he is seeing some unexpected - and inspirational things on his travels.
 He mention a plant he missed the name of :


It is a Cassiope - I believe  Cassiope wardii
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Maggi Young

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Re: Nick Courtens: an SRGC/Diana Aitchison Grant recipient
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2015, 03:15:13 PM »
Nick at RBGE :  http://nickcourtens.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/royal-botanic-gardens-edinburgh.html 

Nick having a go at planting in the tufa wall at RBGE
« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 03:19:26 PM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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