Last winter we pulled apart a section of the garden between the warm borders and the water garden. A Thuya Smargd hedge, planted in early days, was falling open. Indeed the darn thing was a text book illustration why we should never use upright-growing plants for hedging. The best plants for hedges have a single leader rising to the top of the hedge and lots of twiggy lateral growth coming away right down to the ground to form good solid sides. A plant forking close to the ground with lots of shoots zooming skywards, competing and weakening each other, as has Thuya occidentalis Smargd, will eventually be thrown open by wind and rain in a way impossible to repair without lashing branches together with string. The moral: plants with a label boasting of its fastigiate growth habit and ‘ideal for hedging’ should arouse deepest suspicion.
So we grubbed out our thuya hedge revealing handsome brickwork all around these beds, which I’d pretty well forgotten about because I’d not seen the bricks in years. In fact the brickwork was so handsome and the view opened up so interestingly that suddenly, my original intention, to replace the Smargds with something better, was out the window.
We looked at the space for a bit pondering practicalities. Something to fill part of the gap was needed if only to dissuade visitors from strolling across the bed and falling into our perennials. However did it need to be a solid hedge? Was there a way of dissuading people crowd-surfing our borders while retaining the view? Around this time I was shown some ceramic pieces made by Graeme Foote, an artist who has done heaps for Cloudehill over more than 20 years. Among them were a set of pots with an intriguing turquoise-caramel glaze, eye-catching without being overbearing.
Often in these situations it’s good to experiment. We positioned Graeme’s pieces, plus two nice Chinese pots into the beds and sat various plants in them for a week or so, then bit the bullet and constructed pedestals. What was becoming obvious was that the two beds needed to stay open and their brick surrounds remain visible. The best way to do this would be to plant a low groundcover with the pots rising above this and thus the arrangement would allow a view of the garden between the pots.
Planting in the beds would need to be simple, one plant only. Something with silvery foliage seemed best, allowing our warm borders are immediately behind and full of intense colour. I eventually decided on an ordinary gazania, a variety with excellent silvery filigree leaves. The foliage is entirely why I chose this plant! Its flowers are pale yellow with a peculiar mahogany-purple blush. The rosellas think them delicious mind you and have thoughtfully been picking most of them off so far.
The two Chinese pots in the middle of the arrangement I’ve planted with a newish cordyline, C. Electric Flash, surrounded by Scaevola Blue Ribbons and Dichondra argentea (also sold as D. Silver Falls). The last I expect to trail over the pot’s edges. Both the cordyline and the dichondra sway with the wind and catch the eye.
Cordyline Electric Flash
Scaevola Blue Ribbons
Australia’s scaevolas have become world-favourites in recent years for their reliability in containers. Valerie and I saw scaevola all through England and Germany and France a couple of years back while on a garden visiting gig. Scaevolas seems to have replaced lobelias in hanging pots around the world. Both have blue flowers and are good for combining with pink pelagoniums and silvery helichrysums. Scaevola is so much more reliable than lobelia though, if lobelia dries out that’s the end of it. And I found a rather interesting new yucca, Y. gloriosa Spanish Dancer, for Graeme’s turquoise pots. Spanish Dancer has turquoise-green foliage edged with gold and a dash of pink. When one thinks all of these plants are arid-zone specialists, exactly what we should be using in pots, especially if the occasional daily watering is missed.
And I found a rather interesting new yucca, Y. gloriosa Spanish Dancer, for Graeme’s turquoise pots. Spanish Dancer has turquoise-green foliage edged with gold and a dash of pink. When one thinks all of these plants are arid-zone specialists, exactly what we should be using in pots, especially if the occasional daily watering is missed.
See you in the garden
Coming up in our Twilight Series
Duck Duck Goose at Cloudehill Gardens
Music of the Highlands & Islands
Saturday 28th January 2017 at 6pm
Adults $25 Children (up to 16 years) $15
Forming part of our Music of the Highlands and Islands Twilight Series, Sarah Wade and Jessica Foot are Duck Duck Goose. They bring you popular and haunting melodies from the inns and castles of Scotland and dance music from over the border, France and Scandinavia. Jess (oboe and fiddle) and Sarah (small pipes and concertina) provide commentary on many of the places inspiring their wonderful music.
Evergreen Ensemble at Cloudehill Gardens
Music of the Highlands & Islands
Saturday 25th February 2017 at 6pm
Adults $30 Children (up to 16 years) $20
Forming part of our Music of the Highlands and Islands Twilight Series, Evergreen Ensemble brings you 'Airs for the Seasons', a musical tour through a Scottish country garden. Shane Lestideau (violin), Rosy Hunt (cello), Jessica Foot (oboe and fiddle) and Simon Rickard (bassoon) bring you works from 18th century Scotland by James Oswald, each piece inspired by a flower or vegetable with commentary by Simon Rickard. Also pieces by Purcell, McGibbon and fiery Scottish jigs and reels.