The mix of for­mal­ity and colour within this Wilt­shire plot cre­ates year-round in­ter­est

Amateur Gardening - - News -

A mix of for­mal­ity and colour for year-round in­ter­est

EvEr­grEEns are the back­bone of many a great gar­den and a fea­ture on which Marion Beck re­fused to com­pro­mise when she set to work on her ¾ acre plot more than two decades ago. “I’ve al­ways en­joyed gar­den­ing and can of­ten spend all day pot­ter­ing around. When I came here the gar­den had things in it that I didn’t like so I was able to get rid of them with a clear con­science,” she con­fides.

Yew pyra­mids, box balls and sin­u­ous hedg­ing, to­gether with smooth lawns and care­fully se­lected trees such as Cer­cis canaden­sis ‘For­est Pansy’ and Farges wil­low, are among the in­gre­di­ents Marion has used to bring a sense of struc­ture to the gen­tly­wa­ter­fall

“Struc­ture is im­por­tant. I plant around it to”

slop­ing plot that sur­rounds her cen­turies-old cot­tage in Wilt­shire. As struc­tural ele­ments they pro­vide the per­fect back­drop against which she has been able to in­dulge her pas­sion for colour­ful, multi-tex­tured peren­ni­als and old-fash­ioned roses.

Linked by a net­work of path­ways the dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the gar­den in­clude a veg­etable patch, tran­quil pond and and sev­eral sweep­ing vis­tas, along with peace­ful shady ar­eas un­der the canopies of ma­ture trees. The re­sult is a gar­den that stands the test of time: a de­light­ful feast of ro­man­tic, blowsy bor­ders that are gen­tly re­strained by ev­er­green boundaries; a care­fully laid out space that feels nat­u­ral and un­con­trived.

There is no short­age of flow­ers to dead­head. For­tu­nately this is some­thing that Marion hap­pily em­braces whole­heart­edly. “I spend lots of time re­mov­ing spent blooms in or­der to en­sure the colour keeps com­ing,” she ex­plains. “I also cut things back, clean up around plants and tie up things like del­phini­ums when they’re falling over.”

Over the years Marion has taken in­spi­ra­tion from a va­ri­ety of sources in­clud­ing her friend the late Christo­pher Lloyd, whose love of colour is still cel­e­brated at Great Dix­ter in East Sus­sex, and Siss­inghurst. She par­tic­u­larly en­joys find­ing new and un­usual spec­i­mens to in­clude in her vi­brant plant­ing schemes, while still re­main­ing mind­ful that the val­ley in which her gar­den lies is a frost pocket that can prove lethal to more del­i­cate ac­qui­si­tions, such as the ac­ers she tried to grow shortly af­ter mov­ing in. A fur­ther chal­lenge comes from gar­den­ing on green sand, which can be­come very dry.

“Struc­ture is ter­ri­bly im­por­tant but try­ing out new plants in this gar­den is a gam­ble – I put things in and don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen. It’s very hum­bling,” she says. “At the same time, na­ture is so won­der­ful: I would never have thought of thread­ing a blue clema­tis through a cer­cis but it just hap­pened and re­ally works.

Marion has cre­ated a con­trast by leav­ing a shaped area of grass un­cut. A cir­cu­lar bed around a Farges wil­low (Salix far­ge­sii AGM) adds a fur­ther geo­met­ric di­men­sion

Don’t for­get your greens: a well-stocked and at­trac­tive veg­etable gar­den can look as beau­ti­ful as or­na­men­tal bor­ders

Use day lilies, heme­ro­cal­lis, to add a splash of colour to a bor­der. These trum­pet-like blooms are short-lived but keep com­ing

Raise tree canopies to en­joy the view be­yond.

Layer colour­ful blooms against con­trast­ing fo­liage for a vi­brant dis­play and don’t for­get to in­clude spikes, such as the strik­ing mullein Ver­bas­cum olympicum, for ex­tra height

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