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:
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.
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.