Saturday, 28 May 2011

Chelsea - hard landscaping design details

A few of my favourite things...

cor-ten or terracotta?
hammered finish

Basildon Bond dimensions
Giubbilei granite
Yorkshire - mac screen

cut slate
edgeing pieces

Chelsea - plants and plant combinations

A few of my favourite things...
Geum 'Totally Tangerine'
Anenome 'Wild Swan'
Waterside nursery
Briza media

Kangaroo paw

'shredded' foxglove

boragey blue flowers?

with bean stalk railings


Chelsea - Cleve West's Libya Garden

Inspired by Libyan ruins.  The handmade hatched texture of the concrete columns and the plant palette call up 50s textiles
Who wouldn't want to walk to the bench at the end?  The uneven floor and the steps would ensure you slowed down and thought about where you're going.  A garden's key role is to make you think about where you are going. The whole, aided by a dusty looking mortar and silver-leaved plants, evokes mediterranean heat and having to slow down.
The herbaceous planting focuses on flower head shape: the 'plates' of Achillea taygetea (mustard yellow that fades - very nice and seen a lot this year), globes of allium, domed umbels of Anthriscus and parsnip, spikes of Camassia and Stachys, screens of fennel foliage.  Brightest red buttons of Dianthus cruentas sing out (a new plant for Chelsea; Alan Titchmarsh confused it with D. carthusianorum, which is pink, and which  has been in fashion of late with Nigel Dunnett's take on prairie planting).  You can't have a show garden without a multi-stemmed tree; in this case Sophora japonica, which would have great autumn colour and big sculptural seed pods. 

Some of my pictures were used in Landscape magazine’s July edition, pp38 - 39
there are 5 all together
Sphora japonica, Acanthus mollis 'Rue Ledan'
herbaceous planting

Chelsea - Jihae Hwang's Hae-Woo-So Emptying One's Mind Garden

This garden mesmerises out of all proportion to its size and apparent humbleness. The artist has succeeded in creating a spiritual space with a toilet. Maybe the draw is in its neglected end-of-the-garden-place-to-be-on-your-own feeling. The best in artisan garden award is both annoying (I want this place to be for me alone!) and immensely pleasing (the artist deserves recognition for her talent).
Some of my pictures from Chelsea were used in Landscape magazine’s July edition, pp38 - 39

wash your hands
Jeffersonia diphylla

upturned pot as pillar, rough unglazed base offered to view

Chelsea - Thomas Hoblyn's Cornish Memories Garden

Rhododendron 'Cunningham's Blush'
Approaching this garden the first impact is the beautiful and perfect oval of the pool, and its generous size. The smooth curved channels thrill with their line and with a fast running flow, even if your health and safety head thinks 'plenty of scope here for twisted ankles'. Pines and rhododendrons (here Pinus sylvestris 'Watereri') are very evocative of my Dorset early years so the planting provokes for me the emotion and retro response that the designer was aiming to capture.
who made these lovely bowls?

The rockpool bowls are gorgeous - oxygenating plants in them were producing lots of fascinating bubbles - and pick up on the artisan theme promoted though the show. The pavillion, however, was a little too B&Q for me.  I remain a fan of Hoblyn's Chelsea gardens.

Chelsea - Adam Frost's Frank Lloyd Wright inspired garden

The geometry is striking: overlapping slabs of very nice polished concrete, a square of box and bespoke seating. You have to step over the water, and to go up and down the levels to make it to the end: this journey creates space.  The trees with their bare stems and 'V' form on top (Zelkova serrata 'Green Vase') are perfectly placed for shade, seclusion and leading on the eye.
Rodgersia is a plant I'd love to use (it needs a moist root run, and borders water) and here its chestnut leaf form perfectly sets off fans of ferns and spikes of foxgloves. The blue geranium at the front of that planting section links to cooling blue and white entrance fronted by more geranium, fine froth of Luzula nivea and upward Iris sibirica.

plant texture

plants for moist condtions

Friday, 27 May 2011

Chelsea - Robert Myers' Cancer Research Surviving Garden

Planting is key to the concept. The designer has selected plants that survive arid and salty conditions, and graded a progresssion of planting areas that become softer and lusher as shelter is reached. The surviving concept is also explored in incised stone poem panels.  Key hard landscaping: irregular seaside gravel, stone walling, rendered wall and limestone steps and paths. Very thoughtful and made with care.
trees: tamarisk, cordyline, trachycarpus; key herbaceous: valerian

masterly finishing

colour of rendered wall - perfect

Chelsea - Diarmuid Gavin's Irish Sky Garden

Hard to resist those box cushions stepping into the distance contrasting with shaggy hakonechloa and dripping birch

intriguing corten paths but you can't not see the crane

Imperata rubra picking up corten red

It's not easy to enjoy this garden from the viewpoints you're allowed as a visitor. You can't begin to get an idea of the overall shape. Also, I feel uneasy with the extravagant imported topiarised trees and box plants.  The key plants are ones that became design staples during the noughties (Miscanthus, Calamagrostis 'Carl Foerster', Hornbeam, Hakonechloa), but they don't feel tired as they make a study in contrasting form and texture. Nice. I really want to go up that path.

Chelsea - Wong and Cubero Malaysian Courtyard Garden

Geometry, water, lush planting and a beautifully finished limestone - this is a very strong, breath-taking design. The most sophisticated garden in the show, and curiously under the radar, despite its gold medal. Some of my Chelsea pictures were used in Landscape magazine’s July edition, pp38 - 39

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Kelway's stand at Chelsea
gift bunch - 'Coral Charm' (?)
'granny' peony; likely P. officinalis
P. 'Yachiyo-Tsubaki'
P. 'Bowl of Beauty'
A gorgeous gift bunch from Nicola at Cottington inspired me to review peonies. I nipped into the garden to check on ones I've planted. The dark red one is one I divided when I came here 20 years ago. Who knows, maybe it originates when the garden here was re-made in the Edwardian area, the peony heyday. Its autumn foliage makes a crazy colour clash with granny-inherited Nerine and the last few dahlias in a vase.  And 'Bowl of Beauty', which my exquisite taste friend says make her sick (selected by me, admittedly in bud and in haste).  By contrast, the delicate-est pink at the original peony nursery, Kelways. I picked up Claire Austin's catalogue at her beautifully presented stand (camera had run out of battery by this time), which usefully supplemented RHS books and a great article in May's Gardener's Illustrated.  To be included in planting designs. And here's a completely different take on peonies. It would be amazing to come across this on a mountain trek, Paeonia brownii.

Strawberry underworld

strawberry underworld in today's storm
25th April
sprinkle sugar for juice
This blog helps me record variations of the seasons (in a casual way). So just as I blogged about the hard frost we had exactly a year ago - May 26th -, here I am recording allotment neighbour Delta's first strawberry on 10th May.
I feel I neglect my strawberries but they are such do-ers and have converted spring 2011's take-it-for-granted endless sunshine to sweetness and tang in a way I am grateful for. Then today purple skies, sweeping showers and hail - slugs ahoy! Weekend jobs: weeding and nemaslug.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Parsnip flowers

Chrome yellow, and very attractive.

Unwittingly I have aped in a very minor way Cleve West at Chelsea. I missed some parsnips and have let them go on to flower. As many other umbellifers (Apiaceae), they attract hoverflies.  Hoverflies are invaluable predators of aphids in the garden. They lay their eggs in them and the larvae then eat up. I was pleased to get these close ups as the 120cm stems were more than swaying in today's winds. Ladybirds seem to like to be on the flowerheads, be they in flower or set seed.


seed head
nectar feeding