SANTOLINA NATIONAL COLLECTION
In November 2017 we received a major recognition by world-leading plant conservation charity, Plant Heritage, for our collection of evergreen shrubs known as Santolinas.
These small, low growing shrubs originate from the Mediterranean region from Corsica through to the Pyrenees. They grow to around 60cm tall and are known for their highly aromatic foliage and profusion of button like yellow flower heads which range in colour from bright lemon yellow to the most delicate of creamy white.
Becoming a holder of a National Collection is a considerable achievement and involves a rigorous process. We spent 5 years collecting and cultivating Santolina specimens, and now boast a collection of over 20 varieties. Some of the rarer forms took months of tracking down and are not presently found or grown in the UK.
Santolinas are particularly attractive to bees and other pollinators. The link between Santolinas and bees fits perfectly with our ethos on conservation and the environment, as there are three bee hives to help pollinate all plants around the nursery.
The Santolina collection is open to Plant Heritage members and the public. They can be viewed in prime location, set upon a dedicated landscaped area at the nursery, which shows off each and every specimen.
To read Jon's personal account of curating the collection, please keep scrolling!
My Santolina Collection
by Jon Rose
I started my collection of Santolinas, also known as ‘Cotton Lavenders’, almost by accident. I had been growing these easy going trouble free sub-shrubs in my nursery, Botanica, for many years and I had - without realising it - most of the species and cultivars available.
While on holiday in the Lake District one year I bought Santolina Lemon Fizz, for me an awful sounding name, but it stirred me into looking at other cultivars. Having referenced the RHS Plant Finder I realised there was no one with a National Collection. By this time, I had rather fallen in love with these much-overlooked shrubs that I decided to start collecting rather more seriously and so the collection began.
The smell of their foliage always reminds me of the Mediterranean, which is indeed of course from where they originate. Though Santolinas are from sunny climes they are perfectly happy in our British garden climate.
They tolerant quite a degree of dry shade but they are happiest in a sunny spot and are not demanding on cultivation. They thrive if they are not overfed and drainage is good. They make excellent formal edging with a long flowering period of button like flowers which range in colour from bright golden yellow to the most delicate pale yellow and cream.
Unlike lavender they respond well to the occasional hard pruning back. Regular trimming as new growth begins and again after flowering is all that’s needed to keep them looking neat and tidy.
Plant Heritage members and the public are very welcome to visit and see progress of the site chosen for the collection and of course I am always interested in hearing from anybody who has these rather forgotten plants, particularly anyone with S. benthamiana, or S. chamaecyparissus Double Lemon.