Monday, 15 June 2009

The Walled Garden Moves to Centre Stage

As the late Rhododendrons flare up in the woodlands, scattering flashes of colour where a month ago there was a riotous festival featuring every shade in the rainbow, the walled garden comes into prominence with its summer borders. There are roses old and new, aliums big and small, herbs that promise to alleviate every ailment, and what's left of a great display by gorgeous aquilegia and poppies. Interesting shoots in the borders show there's much more to come so watch this space!

To the right of the entrance to the walled garden, nestling in a neat scree, is a collection of succulents, many from the Canary Islands. For this southern African author, this is a reminder of home - colours like the soft pink shades of aeoniums and the brilliant Mesembryanthemum 'Livingstone Daisy' emerge from the hard grey surround as they do in dry and dusty gardens all over central & southern Africa. Roddy the head gardeners asks me to mention they are not hardy and had to be over-wintered under cover.

There's so much going on, this blog could last a month so we've settled on a rose theme. Stunning climbing roses add colour and texture to the walls on the south facing side.
The saying that 'the old ones are the best ones' could refer as much to roses as jokes. The red Rosa Moyseia, the Purpureus cystis and heavily fragrant Rosa Fantin Latour are utterly heavenly.

There's an eclectic mix of colours in the herbaceous borders. Here, the purple of Centaurea hypoleuca 'John Coutts' contrasts vibrantly with a red rose rambling up the south facing wall.

Within the middle borders is this pretty clustering of yellow, thistle-like Cephalaria macrophale with aquilegia behind.

The stunning fat heads of these Allium cristophii add silvery purple accents at ground level, often below creamy clusters of roses climbing over arches.

In the Avenues, outside the walled garden, this lovely Cornus Kousa demands tactile attention. Papery looking leaves and an old parchment colour make the flowers look completely fake - you have to touch them to be assured they are for real.
Most people pop into the loos on their way out, and what nicer farewell than to stroll back past this planting of three roses (Rosa multi flora, Leo's Eye and Pauls Hymalean Musk) on the path that leads back to the car park.