From 120 pack­ets of seed

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Contents -

In the gar­den sur­round­ing their Cotswold pot­tery, Stephen Baughan and his wife Jane cre­ate a ca­coph­ony of colour us­ing an­nu­als grown from seed

The joy­ful plant­ing in the gar­den at As­ton Pot­tery is to­tally un­ex­pected, not least be­cause visitors, des­tined for the pot­tery, may not an­tic­i­pate a gar­den at all, let alone one of such de­light with vi­va­cious, some­times ex­otic, plant­ing that is un­typ­i­cal of a Cotswold gar­den. In­cred­i­bly, this gar­den is tran­sient, sown and grown from 120 pack­ets of seed, all an­nu­als, in 65 se­lected va­ri­eties. The gar­den is in­ter­wo­ven with plants of dif­fer­ing weights, heights and colours, and it feels very es­tab­lished. There are 20 dif­fer­ent sun­flower cul­ti­vars ra­di­at­ing from the back of the seven-me­trewide bed, in­clud­ing thickly feath­ered cop­pery Amaran­thus cru­en­tus ‘Hot Bis­cuits’ and dark-leaved, ruby Amaran­thus ‘Hopi Red Dye’. Up­right Cleome has­s­le­ri­ana ‘Vi­o­let Queen’ jos­tles along­side golden Titho­nia ro­tun­di­fo­lia ‘Fi­esta del Sol’ and Rud­beckia hirta ‘Ir­ish Eyes’. A vi­brant inky he­liotrope is paired with Celosia ar­gen­tea var. cristata ‘Golden Plume’ in a kalei­do­scope of colour.

Stephen Baughan and his wife Jane es­tab­lished As­ton Pot­tery more than 30 years ago. They and their team now pro­duce a wide port­fo­lio of tra­di­tional, hand-dec­o­rated ce­ram­ics. Many of the de­signs are in­spired by plants from the gar­den, in­clud­ing sun­flow­ers and aga­pan­thus. Imag­i­na­tive, en­er­getic, slightly im­pa­tient and with a pas­sion for colour and de­sign, Stephen sought to rev­o­lu­tionise the pot­tery’s gar­den, and the im­me­di­acy of cre­at­ing an al­most in­stant, bril­liant, an­nual bor­der ap­pealed.

“I love colour. There’s no spe­cific scheme, just no white,” he says, ex­plain­ing a pre­cise plant­ing plan where colours are skil­fully jux­ta­posed to add in­ten­sity and con­trast. The gar­den is di­vided into four parts, each com­pris­ing a se­ries of in­ter­lock­ing tri­an­gles. Plants are al­lo­cated in de­scend­ing height or­der, from back to front.

Stephen’s sow­ing and grow­ing regime is de­signed to de­liver a mass of 4,000 flow­er­ing plants. Sun­flow­ers are key, “sown last but planted first”. It takes six hours to plant the sun­flow­ers, and a fur­ther three days to plant the re­main­ing seedlings. The pot­tery in­evitably stalls at this time, all hands to the trowel. “The plants are small so you don’t have to dig big holes, and plant­ing its quick and ef­fi­cient – loosen the soil, ease in the plants, cover, firm and wa­ter.” Stephen has plan­ning and plant­ing down to a fine art, leav­ing the rest to na­ture.

USE­FUL IN­FOR­MA­TION Ad­dress As­ton Pot­tery, The Sta­bles, Kingsway Farm, As­ton, Ox­ford­shire OX18 2BT. Tel 01993 852031. Web­site as­ton­pot­tery.co.uk Open Gar­dens, café and gift shop open Mon­day to Satur­day and Bank Hol­i­days, 9am-5pm, Sun­day 10.30am-5pm. Gar­den tours, priced £5, avail­able on re­quest, June to Oc­to­ber, Mon­day to Fri­day.

REC­OM­MENDED SEED SUP­PLI­ERS Chiltern Seeds chilternseeds.co.uk Mr Fothergill’s mr-fothergills.co.uk Great Dix­ter great­dix­ter­shop.co.uk Nicky’s Nurs­ery nickys-nurs­ery.co.uk Spe­cial Plants spe­cialplants.net Thomp­son & Mor­gan thomp­son-mor­gan.com Un­wins un­wins.co.uk

1 Zin­nia el­e­gans ‘State Fair’ An an­nual that pro­duces large, dou­ble flow­ers in a mul­ti­tude of colours, in­clud­ing red, orange, pur­ple, yellow and pink. Flow­ers from June until the first frosts. Great for at­tract­ing but­ter­flies. 75-90cm. USDA 2a-11†. 2 Celosia ar­gen­tea var. cristata ‘Scar­let Plume’ Pro­duces dra­matic, long-last­ing scar­let feath­ers above bi-coloured dark-red and green fo­liage. Suit­able for full sun or part shade. 45cm. 3 Ni­co­tiana alata ‘ Sen­sa­tion’ A half-hardy, fra­grant mix of mauve and pink cut-and-come-again flow­ers from June to late sum­mer. At­trac­tive to bees. 75cm. USDA 10a-11. 4 Tagetes pat­ula x erecta ‘Chameleon’ An un­usual and in­trigu­ing cul­ti­var that bears sin­gle, dou­ble and crested flow­ers of dif­fer­ent colours all on the same plant. No two plants are ever the same. 45cm. 5 Salpiglos­sis sin­u­ata ‘Lit­tle Friends’ A com­pact and bushy plant that bears sprays of vel­vety flow­ers from June through to Septem­ber in rich tones of reds, pur­ples and ma­hogany. 60cm. 6 Cal­lis­te­phus chi­nen­sis ‘Gi­ant Princess Aster’ A re­ally long-flow­er­ing aster, that bears pretty flow­ers, in a wide se­lec­tion of an­tique colours, from June until Oc­to­ber. Prefers full sun and a well-drained soil. 75cm. 7 Amaran­thus tri­color ‘Splen­dens Per­fecta’ A su­perb tri-coloured fo­liage plant with eye-catch­ing whorls of traf­fi­clight red, yellow and green fo­liage. Re­quires shel­ter and full sun. 60cm. 8 Salvia viridis var. co­mata ‘Pink Sun­dae’ An easy-to-grow, pink-hued clary sage that is dec­o­rated with sat­u­rated rose-pink and carmine-veined bracts from May to Au­gust. Needs to be planted in full sun. 50cm.

9 Is­melia car­i­nata ‘Flame Shades’ For­merly known as Chrysan­the­mum car­i­na­tum ‘Flame Shades’, this bril­liant tiger’s-eye sum­mer blooms in smoul­der­ing warm tones of gold, cop­per and ma­roon. Sun-lov­ing and very easy to grow. 60cm. 10 Helianthus an­nuus ‘Sonja’ A shorter, more com­pact sun­flower that has been bred for the cut­ting gar­den. Looks great when planted in groups. Its branch­ing stems yield large, yolk-yellow flow­ers with a brown eye. 1.1m. 11 Rud­beckia hirta ‘Toto’ This dwarf, golden black-eyed Su­san is a com­pact, well-branched plant ideal for the front of sum­mer bor­ders. 40cm. RHS H3, USDA 3a-7b. 12 Tagetes erecta ‘Crack­er­jack’ An early flow­er­ing pom-pom marigold. Long stemmed and vig­or­ous, it pro­duces large, tonal gold flow­ers from May to Septem­ber. 90cm. 13 Ni­co­tiana ‘Lime Green’ Pop­u­lar for its pro­fu­sion of scented, star-like, lime-green flow­ers that at­tract pol­li­na­tors. 75cm. AGM*. RHS H2, USDA 10a-11. 14 Tagetes tenuifo­lia ‘Tan­ger­ine Gem’ A hardy, dwarf cul­ti­var that is ideal for edg­ing and for fill­ing gaps at the front of a bor­der. Through­out sum­mer, from May until Au­gust it is smoth­ered in small, pert tan­ger­ine flow­ers. 30cm. 15 Cos­mos bip­in­na­tus ‘Xan­thos’ An un­usual cos­mos that is no­table for its soft, but­tery, le­mon-coloured flow­ers. Com­pact, well-branched and long- flow­er­ing, it pro­duces hosts of blooms through­out the sum­mer. 60cm. 16 Amaran­thus ‘Hopi Red Dye’ A tow­er­ing, stat­uesque plant with bril­liant ma­roon-coloured flow­ers and show-stop­ping dark fo­liage. A sun-lov­ing stun­ning stal­wart for the back of bor­der. 1.8m.

17 Helianthus an­nuus ‘Sum­mer Breeze’ Tall, erect, hardy sin­gle-stem sun­flower with bright-le­mon pe­tals and a lime-green cen­tre. En­joys full sun but tol­er­ates par­tial shade. 1.5m. 18 Helianthus an­nuus ‘Magic Round­about’ A new sun­flower that of­fers an ar­ray of at­trac­tive, multi-coloured flow­ers in tones of pas­tel le­mon to café-au-lait – each with a dark cen­tre. 1.8m. 19 Helianthus an­nuus ‘Ikarus’ A shorter, pale le­mon-coloured sun­flower of branch­ing habit that as­sures a mul­ti­tude of flow­ers. Each flower is around 10-15cm across and is but­toned with a choco­late cen­tre. 1.2m. 20 Helianthus an­nuus ‘Vel­vet Queen’ A vel­vety, dark cin­na­mon-coloured sun­flower with a choco­late­coloured cen­tre. It pro­duces lots of flow­er­heads from mul­ti­ple branch­ing stems. Good for cut flow­ers. 1.5m. 21 Rud­beckia hirta ‘Ir­ish Eyes’ Half-hardy, an­nual or peren­nial that needs full sun or part sun to pro­duce its large, daisy-like, golden-yellow blooms. Each flower has a pale-green eye at its cen­tre. 60cm. RHS H3, USDA 3a-7b. 22 Titho­nia ro­tun­di­fo­lia ‘Fi­esta del Sol’ The most com­pact of Mex­i­can sun­flow­ers. It flow­ers early and for sev­eral months, pro­duc­ing in­tense, bright-orange flow­ers, which are at­trac­tive to but­ter­flies, from June to Oc­to­ber. 75cm. 23 Cleome has­s­le­ri­ana ‘Vi­o­let Queen’ A jus­ti­fi­ably pop­u­lar half-hardy, plant with spi­dery blooms that be­gin a vivid vi­o­let and fade to pink. Needs full sun but in the right con­di­tions will pro­duce flow­ers from June to Septem­ber. 1.5m. RHS H2. 24 Helianthus an­nuus ‘Red Sun’ A dis­tinc­tive and un­usual sun­flower with large ma­roon-red flow­er­heads that ma­ture to ruddy brown. Very good for cut­ting. 1.5m.

25 Tagetes pat­ula ‘Burn­ing Em­bers’ A free-flow­er­ing French marigold that is of­ten grown along­side toma­toes to ward off pests. Its rich, vel­vety, dark-orange, pe­tals are rimmed with gold. 45cm. 26 Rud­beckia hirta ‘Au­tumn For­est’ An un­usual black-eyed Su­san that pro­duces large, daisy-like flow­ers in au­tum­nal red, gold and choco­late. Can be grown as a peren­nial or as an an­nual. 60cm. RHS H3, USDA 3a-7b. 27 Zin­nia el­e­gans ‘Super Yoga Orange’ A long-stemmed, large-flow­ered cul­ti­var that is ideal for a sunny, shel­tered spot. To avoid root dis­tur­bance it is best to sow in situ from the end of April to early May. 90cm. 28 Zin­nia el­e­gans ‘Super Yoga Scar­let’ A vel­vety, multi-lay­ered scar­let zin­nia for a sunny, shel­tered spot. As with ‘Super Yoga Orange’ (above), it is best sown in situ from the end of April to early May. 90cm. 29 Celosia ar­gen­tea var. cristata ‘Golden Plume’ Has al­most un­nat­u­rally bright, yellow-orange plumage and equally vi­va­cious green fo­liage. Half-hardy, yet quick and easy to grow with long-last­ing flow­ers. 45cm. 30 Amaran­thus cru­en­tus ‘Hot Bis­cuits’ An al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional reds, this cin­na­mon-coloured amaran­thus pro­duces masses of ar­chi­tec­tural, up­ward-fac­ing, feath­ered spires and makes an ex­cel­lent cut flower. 1.5m. 31 Amaran­thus cru­en­tus ‘Oeschberg’ A strik­ing fox-tail amaran­thus with ed­i­ble, dark-pur­ple fo­liage and eye-catch­ing, che­nille-like red flower spikes. 90cm. AGM. RHS H2. 32 Cos­mos sul­phureus ‘Cos­mic Red’ A new cul­ti­var with abun­dant eye-catch­ing, scar­let-red flow­ers the colour of which in­ten­si­fies with in­creas­ing light lev­els. A daz­zling com­pact plant. 30cm.

Right A vi­brant mix of flow­er­ing an­nu­als, all sown from seed, cre­ate a sev­en­metre-deep hot bed of colour, which is in­ten­si­fied as it cor­ners the bor­der’s end. This tu­mul­tuous ta­pes­try is cre­ated by the se­ries of in­ter­con­nect­ing tri­an­gles, each planted mind­ful of colour jux­ta­po­si­tions, tex­ture and height.

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