Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Forty Year Transformation

This photograph may actually be older than I have labelled it. But the border is as I remember it from when I was a child; and I often wonder if my own love of 'jungle' gardening emanated from then. Arthur's planting was equally chaotic. The great master gave excellent advice in his books which he didn't have the time to implement himself.  The untidy mass on the right hand side of the house wall is Clematis montana 'Elizabeth' which can be seen almost covering one of the bedroom windows. 

Philip and I worked in the garden together from 1989. You can see that the Clematis has been cut down, as have most of the wall growth. The Clematis survived and went on to grow back up but was managed and rarely allowed to climb higher than the bedroom window. The larch poles were the first structure that Philip erected to take Rosa 'Excelsa', which had previously tumbled over the sandstone wall and along the garden. Interestingly they never did grow as well and for the most part didn't make good use of the rope.

I love this planting of Salix intergra 'Hakuro-nishiki', its mottled white and pale pink foliage irregularly blotched and patchy. I bought twelve half-standard trees, each grafted on to a straight stem of another willow. They travelled home stuffed in the back of my Nissan Prairie, along with a colleague in the front seat, who had to endure their twiggy growth poking in her ears! The stems are rather weak and lax, exposing coral red stems in autumn when the foliage has fallen. The spring and summer foliage illuminated the newly named Salix Walk, the grafted canopies resembling sparklers. They didn't survive for many years; I think the exuberance of my underplanting proved too much competition for the little tress, plus the shade from the front border became deeper as those shrubs matured.

After the Salix had been removed Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum gave height to the borders; though not on the same scale. This was one of my favourite plants with multiple interest, from the pointed, papery calyx in which were encased lots of flower buds held high above the twisted leaves. As the swelling buds pushed open the calyx they dropped down, opening their pendent bell-shaped thimble-sized cream flowers. they were marked with burgundy and flushed green at the base on the outside, a deeper shade on the inside. when flowering ended the seed heads pointed themselves upwards again.

No comments:

Post a Comment