SMALL PLOT, BIG AM­BI­TIONS

Ex­u­ber­ant plant­ing cov­ers ev­ery inch of a com­pact cot­tage gar­den in Kent, fill­ing it with last­ing colour and form

Country Living (UK) - - Contents - words by paula mcwa­ters pho­to­graphs by abi­gail rex

Ex­u­ber­ant plant­ings cover ev­ery inch of a Ken­tish gar­den, fill­ing it with last­ing colour and struc­ture

lovely mounded shape. It’s well be­haved, which is how I like my plants.” Other favourites in­clude

G. ‘Eureka Blue’, de­scribed as ‘John­son’s Blue’ on steroids, and the ever-pop­u­lar G. ‘Rozanne’.

Carolyn made sev­eral changes when she ar­rived, in­clud­ing tak­ing out a fir tree and a wil­low, which were too close to the house and cast­ing too much shade. She also had a pond dug at the base of the slope to at­tract wildlife, with a beach of peb­bles to one side to al­low easy ac­cess for am­phib­ians to come and go and for birds to drink from. It is po­si­tioned be­side her ter­race so she can en­joy cof­fee or lunch out there and the mar­gins are soft­ened with Iris sibir­ica and I. lae­vi­gata, water hawthorn (Aponogeton dis­tachy­hos), flow­er­ing rush (Bu­to­mus um­bel­la­tus) and marsh marigold

(Caltha palus­tris), along­side fluffy white­flow­ered arun­cus va­ri­eties. Later on in the sum­mer, pick­erel weed (Pont­ed­e­ria cor­data), planted in the water, pro­duces hand­some pur­ple flower spikes.

To deal with the slope above the pond, the land has been ter­raced to give Carolyn plenty of plant­ing pock­ets to play with and to make the most of lim­ited space. Plants are crammed be­tween moss-cov­ered rocks, which vir­tu­ally dis­ap­pear among the fo­liage in the sum­mer months. Ferns, phlox and veron­i­cas thrive here, in­clud­ing pale blue V. gen­tianoides, mat-form­ing V. pros­trata and bushy V. ‘Royal Blue’, which makes a softly shaped plant with spikes of starry blue flow­ers. “Veron­i­cas are so pretty, I wouldn’t be with­out them,” Carolyn says.

Also dot­ted through this area, among the fil­ipen­du­las and arun­cus, are bright ma­genta Gla­di­o­lus byzanti­nus. Be­ing hardy peren­ni­als, these don’t need lift­ing (un­like most of the

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TOP LEFT Tall bright peren­ni­als fill bor­ders by the pa­tio; Gera­nium ‘Eureka Blue’; cop­pery leaves of Acer pal­ma­tum ‘Trompen­burg’ con­trast with a mauve gera­nium be­low; the plan for the gar­den has a pond at its heart OP­PO­SITE Irises, pinks, phlox and Bowles’ golden sedge thrive around the water

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