Eutierria Mindfulness Garden at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2019

Eutierria garden with textural plants and sweet chestnut decking

The Eutierria Show Garden (pronounced you tee air ia), designed by Neil Sutcliffe and built by Creative Roots, drew inspiration from the cliffs of the River Trent. It was part of the mindfulness category of mood-enhancing spaces at RHS Chatsworth that demonstrate how access to nature and our wellbeing are interlinked. 

Shade tolerant plants supplied by Miles Nurseries channelled the margins of woodland, but with gardenesque touches. White anemone ‘Ruffled Swan’, bronze ajuga, claret astrantia, blue geranium and a froth of tiny, chartreuse yellow alchemilla mollis flowers provided pops of colour against a green, textural planting of fern, moss, hosta, tiarella and brunnera. Trees and shrubs added architecture.  

Eutierria Show Garden with rammed wall, pebble mulch, and green water wall

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Rosa ‘Bathsheba’, An English Climbing Rose

Bathsheba climbing rose has large, apricot flowers

My sweetheart uses the term ‘mannerly climber’ to describe a rose that will climb rather than swamp any structure provided for it by human carers: if the rose produces a succession of elegant, petal-packed rosettes, that’s so much more courteous of it. Rosa ‘Bathsheba’ is a fine example of a mannerly climbing rose.

Pictures rarely tell the full tale of any plant, particularly not a rose. We miss out on the fragrance (strong, flowery myrrh, since you ask) and find it hard to judge the size of the flowers. These are large ones, with a hint of a button eye that becomes Bathsheba very well.

Rosa Bathsheba

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Woolly Cobweb Houseleek: Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Clärchen’

Sempervivum arachnoideum 'Clärchen' has pink flowers and cobweb rosettes

You don’t need me to tell you how the cobweb houseleek (hen-and-chicks, or in botanical terms, Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum) got its folk name. Those with a fear or spiders or a compulsion to dust might find this plant unsettling. If it looks on the creepy side, try to imagine the leaves are playing cat’s cradle.

Delicate webbing covers each chick from infancy, stretching out as the evergreen rosette swells to maturity. Continue reading

Gimme Shelter In A Peony Seed Husk

Peony foliage in autumn colours in a border at Trentham Gardens

Peony foliage in autumn colours at Trentham Gardens

Years ago, the RAC used The Rolling Stones’ haunting Gimme Shelter in a TV commercial where a lone lady’s car breaks down in the dark and a black knight on a shining motorbike pulls up to fix it for her. It was more atmospheric and persuasive than my summary gives credit: although I doubt TV advertising (like all intrusive advertising) works as well as the sales team would claim, in this case it triggered a purchase. I bought the (wrong) Rolling Stones CD to try to get a copy. I’m just that bit too young to be truly knowledgeable about the band and thought I was looking for 2000 Light Years From Home, a good title for a stranded lady.

Ladybird sheltering in a peony seed husk

Ladybird sheltering in a peony seed husk

Gimme Shelter sprang to mind when I spotted this ladybird.  I’d have cropped in a bit tighter but liked the dramatic effect of the wizened seed capsules, hard, almost ugly against the splendour of the fiery foliage; the feeling of disarray. Continue reading

Great Companion Plants For a Cottage Garden: Geraniums

This post about hardy geraniums, popularly called cranesbills, (not the pelargoniums) is the second in my series on companion plants.

Blue hydrangea with geranium companion plant

Blue hydrangea with a geranium companion

What are companion plants?

Companion plants complement the showy ornamentals society loves – roses, peonies, delphiniums and hollyhocks – filling in the gaps in the flower border and helping it flow. They’re pretty enough on their own terms and happy to mingle in, above or below other plants. Good neighbours, they will not compete too aggressively for food, water or space.

Their presence encourages a healthier ecosystem by attracting beneficial insects which is why companion plants are often recommended for kitchen gardens. To find out more about what makes a plant a good companion, check out the first post in the series, on astrantias.

Pink roses with purple geraniums at a sunny Bodnant Gardens

Roses with geraniums at Bodnant Gardens

Geraniums (Cranesbills)

If you show me a decent sized English garden that doesn’t have a geranium, I’ll show you a garden that is missing a trick. Suppliers variously describe them as forgiving, easy, undemanding, generous and enduring. I don’t have a horse in the race, but I’d agree with them.

Geranium Sue Crug and Stachys byzantina

Geranium ‘Sue Crûg’ and Stachys byzantina

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