What makes a sensory garden different to any other garden? We can expect the boundaries to be pushed, as they are in Howick Hall’s new sensory garden. Starting, as in any garden, with the soothing power of green, contrasting textures and colours are layered on to stimulate us.
We respond with an instinctive head-turn as we half-spot a flash of wings between rustling leaves. Our thumbs and forefingers are stained and scented from crushing a rosemary leaf, just one of many fragrant plants around us. We tune in to sounds – water splashing, birdsong and the blunt music of windchimes. Continue reading “Howick Hall’s Sensory Garden”
Many of the plants that most catch my eye have something majestic about them. In this case it’s the rich yellow flowers held horizontally along single-sided stems that taper down in a showy arc. Each individual floret is unmistakably a lily with its stamens and stigmas flung out in invocation. Buds tier beneath, patiently await their turn in the spotlight. Continue reading “Crocosmia masoniorum ‘Rowallane Yellow’ AGM”
High up on my photogenic flowers list comes tricyrtis, also known by the folk name toad-lily. This one is all the more picturesque for the curtain of grasses and backdrop of nicotiana (those pale, drooping, trumpet-like flowers).
Layered symmetry is a big part of a toad-lily’s charm. Looking down at the main flower, beneath three forked tongues joined triskelion-style, you’ll find a ring of legs with shoes that appear to be dancing. Well, they might if, like me, you’ve been keeping up with this year’s Strictly. The three narrow petals have a delicate smattering of freckles and are positioned between three darker sepals, their ends curling back. The yellow splotches (almost hearts, if you squint enough) give this particular form a sunny glow. Continue reading “Toad-Lily With Grasses And Nicotiana”
Love isn’t always requited between humans & plants, but we shouldn’t allow the lamentable failure of a relationship to thrive to put us off one type of plant entirely. Easy to say, but harder to venture a tender heart the second time around.
I was first acquainted with a brownish heuchera that lived in a hanging basket in an out of the way place, seemingly never watered. Most of the soil had fallen out and only a spindly root system prevented the heuchera from going the same way. The plant never looked great, but you had to respect its toughness. I can’t claim to have fallen in love; at best we were on nodding terms.
Usually there are plenty of opportunities to pick an overcast day if we’re planning to visit a garden or, if not, at least chances to wait for a cloud. But this year is different. Unrelenting sunshine is not usually a big issue in northern England but Texan-style blue skies (with not a cloud in sight all day long) are all the rage. Continue reading “Sunlight Attack”
I’m joining in with The Propagator to share my six favourite plants from the ongoing UK flower show that runs until Sunday 10th June. It’s a good discipline to be just allowed six, but you should know there was a small battle for every one of these slots. I hope I’ll not be the only one this week to share pictures from Chatsworth, as I’d love to see other people’s highlights. Here goes:
Digitalis ‘Foxlight Rose Ivory’
Looking this up online, the first search result is a data card for trade sellers, saying: ‘…bold novelty colors boost retail appeal and drive impulse sales’. I’m sure they will! I had thought this foxglove was part of the Illumination series, but was puzzled by the pointed lip, so was pleased to find I’d photographed the label. This doesn’t always happen, especially if I am over-excited to see the plant.
2. Polemonium ‘Northern Lights’
I’ve always had a soft spot for polemoniums. This cultivar has a radiance because the lighter centres of the flowers are displayed against lavender blue petal reverses. The yellowy-orange stamens help too.
It may just be my strange way of seeing things but these plants all seem to have an anthropomorphic character. Geranium ‘Elke’ is surely offering a hand for the passer-by to shake? Continue reading “Plant anthropomorphism”