RHS Chatsworth’s Mandala Mindfulness Garden

As news broke that this year’s flower shows have been cancelled, I found myself gazing at a pile of dry, leafy debris, cleaned from my hens and chicks, wondering whether making a mandala would sooth my mind. It wasn’t the best of ingredients, being a uniformly dull beige.

Overhead view of hens and chicks mandala
Mandala made from hens and chicks in contrasting colours

My thoughts turned to last year’s RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. The Mandala Mindfulness Garden had been designed as a quiet space to allow an urban school to provide wellbeing sessions for small groups and in one to ones. A sense of rest (from the seating areas) and calm contemplation (the mandalas), was balanced by flow (the airy planting and the oval path). Continue reading “RHS Chatsworth’s Mandala Mindfulness Garden”

Classic Combination Planting: Clematis With Roses

Clematis 'Perle d'Azur' in a rose garden
Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’ with roses, stachys and poppies

Today, I’m offering you a picture to dream over: Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur, Rosa ‘Rêve d’Or’ (the pale apricot climber) and Stachys byzantina with a pink moss rose and papaver at RHS Rosemoor.

Clematis and roses have been planted together in cottage gardens for centuries.

The art of combination planting is to mix plants that will extend the flowering season (just how many buds are there on the moss rose?); be harmonious in colour and contrasting in height and texture (the soft lamb’s ear, the prickly roses) and in flower shape. The lamb’s ear brings its spires; the poppy, cups; the roses are rosettes, and the clematis are single, open flowers. The clematis provides height and a mass of purple-blue, which goes so well with the pastel pinks and apricots. There’s a climbing rose too. For good measure, the roses throw scent into the mix. Continue reading “Classic Combination Planting: Clematis With Roses”

The Giant Houseplant Takeover: A Review With Pictures

Bath and shower in a tall room hung with plants
An outdoor bathroom, but indoors

The current Giant Houseplant Takeover exhibition at RHS Garden Wisley is kooky and wry: an elaborate conceit. A Victorian house has been abandoned to the houseplants which, in the absence of humans, have made themselves at home.

Four-poster bed with colourful flowering bromeliads
Bromeliads fill the bed, trunk and leafy plants tumble down the walls

An abundance of greenery may convey a derelict feel as visitors enter, but it soon becomes clear that everything is carefully arranged and tended. We’re visiting the best-behaved invasive houseplants in the history of mankind. My own ‘triffid’ is much less mannerly. Continue reading “The Giant Houseplant Takeover: A Review With Pictures”

RHS Campaign For School Gardens, Chatsworth Flower Show

Mayflower Primary School’s sensory garden, It All Makes Sense, was one of my favourite corners of the Chatsworth Flower Show 2019. If there’s a child in your life, you might like to take some inspiration from these recycled tin cans, painted with cheerful motifs. Pop a herb or a flower in one and you have a tiny garden to enjoy, with potential lessons in art, the environment, nature, nurturing and cookery along the way.

While my secondary school had a small greenhouse, I only have the vaguest memories of going inside it. We never did anything as exciting as making a garden for one of the RHS flower shows. I love it when I see some of the kids who have been involved at the shows, proud of what they’ve achieved and excited to explain to visitors what they were thinking about in this or that part of the garden.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Although my schooldays preceded the RHS Campaign For School Gardens by decades, my childhood was filled with small lessons like these as part of family life. Caterpillars in jars that turned into butterflies. Rose petal scented water. A succulent that grew in a pattern. Owl pellets to pull apart, looking for bones. Flowers to plant. Potatoes to dig (well before their time as we were too excited to wait). Pebbles to pick out of streams. A bat cave to explore. Continue reading “RHS Campaign For School Gardens, Chatsworth Flower Show”