The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Gardening -

It’s not of­ten that I get the chance to write a re­view of a Miche­lin-starred restau­rant, but Lo­canda Lo­catelli has caught my at­ten­tion, not for its fab­u­lous food, but for its flow­ers. This restau­rant near Mar­ble Arch, in Lon­don, is stop­ping passers-by in their tracks as its frontage has the long­est win­dow box in Lon­don. This 20-me­tre win­dow box is al­most the length of a cricket pitch and runs right along the mod­ern frontage of the build­ing, form­ing a strong, bold state­ment that ab­so­lutely com­mands at­ten­tion. Its wel­com­ing stripe of fo­liage and vi­brant flow­ers lifts the large, mod­ern glas­sand-ren­der fa­cade be­hind. But it is not the sheer length that makes the dra­matic im­pact, more the laid-back, nat­u­ral­is­tic style – a hy­brid of a her­ba­ceous bor­der and a meadow De­clan Buck­ley has been plant­ing it for the owner, the chef Ge­or­gio Lo­catelli, since the sum­mer of 2012. De­clan de­cided to be rad­i­cal and re­place the tra­di­tional clipped box and Busy Lizzie and try a much wilder feel. The first year he plunged in around 700 plants of more than 20 dif­fer­ent types to lend a feel­ing of exuberance. The plants were care­fully cho­sen to per­form right through from April/May till late Oc­to­ber/ Novem­ber. Then he re­placed them with win­ter and spring plants and bulbs. The re­laxed feel of the sum­mer plant­ing is down to stars such as Agas­tache ‘Af­ter Eight’, a gi­ant hys­sop with an up­right habit, deep-pur­ple and blue flow­ers that reach a height of 50cm, min­gling with the pop­u­lar um­bil­if­era Ammi ma­jus ‘Grace­land’, with its lacy flow­ers and ferny fo­liage, and the looses­trife Lythrum vir­ga­tum ‘Drop­more Pur­ple’. Oth­ers in­clud­ing Pen­ste­mon ‘Raven’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Amethyst’ pull in ad­mir­ing glances and trips from bees sta­tioned on the Sel­fridges roof gar­den nearby. Al­li­ums, such as A. Sphae­ro­cephalon with its in­tense dusky pink/ pur­ple drum­sticks, punc­tu­ate the mini bor­der. Win­dow boxes can be pre­dictable in win­ter, but not here. At this time of year ,spring bulbs such as nar­cis­sus pep up the neigh­bour­ing Berge­nia ‘Over­ture’ (AGM), which has stun­ning, sparky, ma­genta flow­ers (March-May) and dark red win­ter fo­liage. The more sub­tle Helle­borus foetidus ‘Win­ter Flisk’ (Novem­ber­spring), with its ap­ple-green red-edged bracts, joins var­i­ous ferns and grassy pen­nise­tums (Hameln and Cas­sian’s Choice). Se­lect­ing the plants to run through and look joy­ful even in the depth of Jan­uary is quite a task. The trick is to use

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