Snapshots from Chelsea

Snapshots from Chelsea

Copper bowl echoing a Fibonacci number in the Beauty of Mathematics Garden

Copper bowl echoing a Fibonacci number in the Beauty of Mathematics Garden

A bowl of hepaticas from Ashwood Nurseries stand in the Grand Pavilion

A bowl of hepaticas from Ashwood Nurseries stand in the Grand Pavilion

The hidden garden within the granite cube

The hidden garden within the granite cube

More willow, here woven with flowers in the ‘Garden Bed’

More willow, here woven with flowers in the ‘Garden Bed’

Shoes left outside as the team put the finishing touches to the Senri-Sentei garden

Shoes left outside as the team put the finishing touches to the Senri-Sentei garden

Column detail from Tom Hoblyn’s Tamil Nadu organic garden in the Discovery section of the Grand Pavilion.

Column detail from Tom Hoblyn’s Tamil Nadu organic garden in the Discovery section of the Grand Pavilion.

Woven willow balls under the trees next to the Artisan Gardens

Woven willow balls under the trees next to the Artisan Gardens

 

 

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Naturally Inspired

Naturally Inspired

If you love to walk in the woods and like wild places, there is much to please you at this year’s show. Multi-stemmed trees casting dappled shade, dry habitats with plants emerging from between rough rocks, trickling watercourses, pines (unseen for many years in the main show gardens) and a corner of Provence seemingly picked up and transported undisturbed to SW1 – it’s all there. And of course much, much more. Some bonkers, some challenging, but as television does such a great job of taking you around the show and uncovering the stories behind the gardens, I’ll just do a quick trip around my top picks of the show gardens that I’m sure are destined for Gold:

Jekka McVicar’s Modern Apothecary Garden – an atmospheric and gorgeously planted meditative and healing herb garden that is destined to be rebuilt at a hospice

Jekka McVicar’s Modern Apothecary Garden – an atmospheric and gorgeously planted meditative and healing herb garden that is destined to be rebuilt at a hospice

Nick Bailey’s magnificent Beauty of Mathematics – a tribute to natural symmetries within the kingdom of plants

Nick Bailey’s magnificent Beauty of Mathematics – a tribute to natural symmetries within the kingdom of plants

Andy Sturgeon’s dramatic Telegraph Garden where the bronze fins represent mountains within arid setting

Andy Sturgeon’s dramatic Telegraph Garden where the bronze fins represent mountains within arid setting

James Basson’s L’Occitane Garden in which he has recreated yet another corner of Provence so realistic that I almost expected to hear the cicadas

James Basson’s L’Occitane Garden in which he has recreated yet another corner of Provence so realistic that I almost expected to hear the cicadas

 Cleve West’s M&G Garden that recalls the Exmoor of his youth with stunted oaks, craggy rocks and a gentle palette of ferns and flowers

Cleve West’s M&G Garden that recalls the Exmoor of his youth with stunted oaks, craggy rocks and a gentle palette of ferns and flowers

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A Mutable Beauty

Nicotiana mutabilis is such a lovely plant that I go to considerable lengths to have it in the garden. Its flowers start dark pink, fade to a paler shade and then white, with the tall, airy plant carrying all three colours at once.  I overwintered one successfully in the greenhouse and planted it out a few weeks ago, sowed seeds less successfully (only three seedlings from this sowing and none from an earlier one), but to my delight I’ve found that the leggy plants I left in the borders have come through the mild winter and are sending out new stems from ground level.  I’m going to have a go at sowing another batch because I think they may germinate better in dry heat, but in the meantime I’m enjoying the early show from the greenhouse plant. 

Nicotiana mutabilis

Overwintered in the greenhouse

overwintered Nicotiana mutabilis

Overwintered in the garden thanks to a lack of frosts

Nicotiana mutabilis seedling in greenhouse

Spring sown seedling

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Long May it Last

I’ve been puzzled (but pleased ) by the near absence of slugs in the newly redesigned vegetable plot. I was pretty sure that they hadn’t gone off in a huff because we had disturbed their usual haunts, but it has finally dawned on me what has kept them at bay. It’s the combination of the recycled rough concrete panels that have been used to form the raised beds and the self-setting aggregate surface that we’ve used for the paths.  The rough surfaces of both act as mollusc deterrents – although I’m sure that in time they will use imported plants as their own version of the wooden horse and  mount an invasion from within. In the autumn I will paint the wooden fencing in the same grey to alleviate the urban brutalist effect – just haven’t had time yet. In the meantime it is such a pleasure to sow seeds, watch them grow, pot them on and plant them out without them being chomped to extinction.fresh green salad urban brutalist spinach peas supports gravel path fresh herbs

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