More spikes today, in support of Becky’s MarchSquares. My first shows a classic English cottage garden with lupins and foxgloves in the display gardens at Bridgemere Garden Centre in Nantwich. OK, one lupin is more bendy than spiky, but that’s beside the point. (Pause for groans). That one’s the flowers arranger’s lupin.
This is pretty bucolic too. It’s a tradition to coppice or pollard trees and to use the uniform branches that sprout back for garden projects. Here, long, slender branches have been harvested, bundled in colours and set aside for weaving fences, arbours or making plant supports at Harlow Carr Garden in Harrogate.
This picture from my post about the red border at Hidcote shows stouter branches with an artisan feel, used to support dahlias. The contents of the wheelbarrow are pretty spiky too: someone has been hard at work. Some of the stems in the wheelbarrow have been discarded before they’ve had chance to open from buds. Perhaps the crocosmia was getting out of hand – that wouldn’t be unusual – or perhaps it wasn’t deemed to be the right shade of red.
Bear with me as I cross the ocean to the Southern States of America. This picture shows how too many spikes in one picture can frazzle the mind. To capture the beauty of the Naples Botanic Garden, I needed to find a different angle: the trees, the artwork, the fence, the reflections and the portea foliage are almost too much to take in at a single glance.
It took me some time to understand tropical plants. Growing up in northern England, it was more common to see them as sorrowful-looking, slightly dusty things, surviving indoors almost despite themselves, rarely, if ever, flowering. On close inspection, you might have discovered the sturdier looking ones were plastic but even the ‘real’ ones looked artificial, outshining their surroundings to such a degree that they lacked plausibility.
It’s only when you see them outside worshipping the sun that you can appreciate their colour and gladness. With pink shutters behind them in this Key West garden, they are not merely plausible, but perfect.
Southern American cacti and succulents differ from northern English ones in much the same way – not just their varied colours and sizes, but the glory of them. I found it easy for most of my life to overlook a small, green spiky thing on a windowsill, but you overlook plants like the one above at your peril. It had reached a meter (a yard) or so tall growing outside in the ten acre desert garden at the Huntington Library Gardens.
Wikipedia tells us that the founder had to be persuaded to grow them:
Mr. Huntington was not initially interested in establishing a Desert Garden. He did not like cacti at all, due to some unfortunate prickly pear encounters during railroad construction work.
Quite, but I’m glad he changed his mind. I defy anyone to see the Huntington’s collection and not leave with a greater respect for cacti and succulents – a corner of love that will take root and grow. Now this, for instance…
… is one of my favourite cottage gardens in Austin, Texas. And, yes, I do think of it as a cottage garden: a modern, hot climate, consciously landscaped one, perhaps, but with that cottage garden spirit where the plants try to outdo the house. For those who do not know the century plant, these succulents will eventually produce huge flower scapes that will dwarf the property then wither away, leaving hundreds of babies to take their place. I couldn’t bear to crop this one square.
Shared as part of Becky’s March Squares.