Archive for the ‘Clematis’ Category

topiary-vie-win-to-field Some gardens just make your heart sing. Bryan’s Ground is one of those amazing places. It’s a heady mixture of formal, intimate rooms (about three acres of these),inula-and-giant-fennel-at-bryans-ground-upright

and planting chaos, where self-seeders are left to do their own thing (Fennel, teasels and Inula (?) above),


blousey perennials wilfully flop into pathways


and climbers scramble up old bedsteads.


I first read about Bryan’s Ground on The Patient Gardeners blog, some years ago, and it wasn’t until last July that I finally managed to find my way over to see the gardens which are on the Welsh border about 20 miles from Hay-on-Wye.

Originally I’d been wowed by an image of a whole room full of Irises (have a look at Michelle’s pics of these) and planned to visit in May, but by the time I’d coordinated my plans with Veronica from Through the Garden Gate, summer was upon us and the irises (above) were well and truly over. We didn’t mind at all.

I’m sure whenever you visit, there’ll be gorgeous planting to see,

rabbit-pillarsand sculpture and follies aplenty to enjoy.




This truly inspiring garden has been created by David Wheeler and Simon Dorrell (who also are the writers of the quarterly Hortus magazine) since 1993.

plant-bench-at-bryans-groundAt every turn there are playful vistas and great planting ideas,

potager-2and I know it’s a garden that I’ll want to return to time and time again. Veronica felt the same.

pond-area-at-bryans-groundOnce you’ve wound your way all the different rooms, paths then lead you into the arboretum and another five acres with a large pond,

clearing-at-bryans-groundstylish mowing, and many specimen trees.

two-chairs-in-the-arboretum-at-bryans-groundIt’s a lovely calm spot.

When you’ve finished your wanderings, there’s also delicious cakes to tempt you and a small nursery area. Plan your visit well, as Bryan’s Ground is only open Sunday and Monday afternoons, this year from mid April until the end of July. Group visits can also be arranged by appointment. Most definitely worth making the trip.

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I’ve just spent the morning working in a client’s garden that was packed full of Sarcococcas (Christmas or sweet box). The perfume was intoxicating, mesmerizing even, and it just got me thinking about how important scent is in a garden.

Plants with a powerful winter scent jump to mind easily,

such as the delicious Viburham bodnantense ‘Dawn’ (above),

the subltle perfume of Daphne Bholua (above),

and the delicate aroma of Mahonia japonica (above), with a scent akin to that of Lily of the Valley,

but as the year progresses, I find myself  being seduced into using colours, form and texture for planting plans,

with scent really taking a back seat. So while sitting on a bus, I gave myself the challenge of calling to mind flowers and shrubs that provide fragrance for the garden for the rest of the year.

Euphorbia Robbiae with Hyacinth ‘Blue Jacket’

In  March and April I recalled the heady scent of Hyacinths really knocking my socks off,

and Clematis armandii delicately perfuming the air , especially on warm sunny days in March and April. Oh, and the delicious honey scented Euphorbia mellifera.

Pittosporum tennuifolium flowers

The flowers of Pittosporum tennuifolium are so tiny and dark that you barely notice them , but last April, the sweet scent caught me unawares as I passed by this wonderful (and very useful) evergreen shrub whilst I worked away in my own garden. Will grow happily in semi-shade too.

May did fox me for a while, but Lily of the Valley has to be one of my all time favourite scents, and how could I forget Wisteria (call myself a gardener!).

The fresh light scent of the diminutive lilac, Syringa meyeri ‘Palabin’ (slowly growing to 1.5m x 1.5m) is also a great addition to any garden.

For June, July and August, fragrant choices abound from Roses (which flowered well in to December last year too!), Lillies,  mock orange-Phildelphus and star Jasmin-Trachelspermum jasminoides. But I started to struggle as I mentally planned ahead for the autumn months.

Roses will still be flowering in September, and then I remembered the delicious scent and waving wands of Actaea Simplex (aka Cimifuga atropurpurea) as I entered into the magical Jardin Plume  last year. These should flower well into October too.

And taking us through November and December is the wonderful shrub Camellia sesanqua, a joyous surprise, both for its loud scent and riotous colour (and also happy in semi-shade),  as autumn turns into winter and the rest of garden looks as if it’s shut up shop for the year.

Erriobotya in bloom 2Another evergreen and beautifully architectural largish shrub (or small tree)  is Eriobotrya japonica, also known as a Loquat. More subdued in colour and perfume than the above Camellia, its scent is a real treat when least expected on a frosty morning in November and well into December.

Then I thought I’d start all over again with all year round colour, then all year round structure and this brought me back to the Sarcococcas, planted where I was working both as evergreen arching shrubs (eventually growing to about 4-5ft, 120-150cm) and more formal hedging. With its small glossy dark green leaves, the ability to grow in shady parts of the garden (even dry shade in mine) and the added benefit of its fragrant perfume, it’s a great structural plant for any garden and one I wouldn’t be without in my own!

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I recently popped round to see a fellow allotmenteer’s garden in North London. It’s not the first time that I’ve visited Judy’s garden this year. She’s such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable plantswoman that her garden is always full of wonderful plants to discover and the garden is constantly changing and developing at different points throughout the year.

It’s only been a couple of months since my last visit, but the garden has an even more lush feeling after our recent weeks of rain. Judy pointed out that this Ligularia “The Rocket’ has been at it’s best this year, after 5 years in the garden. We wondered if it’s because of the rain, or perhaps that after 5 years, this normally marginal plant has finally settled in to its London clay home. Judy also finds that some Clematis can take years to settle before they start giving their best. Good to hear that time and patience can be rewarded!

A new plant for me this time was Phytolacca esculenta. Originating from East Asia and China, this plant can put on 6ft of growth each year if cut right back in spring and has stunning black berries later in the year along with it’s dark, meaty stems.

The related Phytolacca ‘Laka Boom’ (above), is found on the high volcanic slopes of Sumatra and grows to 50 cm high, so quite different in stature to the esculenta, but also produces spikes of dark berries later in the year


Leucanthemum shone out from the middle of a border. Quite lax in habit here, but Judy points out that when planted in less rich soil, it is a much smaller plant with tighter growth. Similar wild looking varieties were all the rage at Hampton Court this year too.

Edgworthia chrysantha (above) originates from the Himalayas and needs a sheltered spot. Said not to be frost hardy below -5, this shrub has happily survived in Judy’s garden for the last 5 years. Related to Daphnes, Edgworthia produces sweetly scented flowers throughout February and March and finally reaches height and width of about 5 ft. Sounds and looks perfect for a sheltered sunny spot in most London gardens. (Available from Perryhill Nurseries in East Sussex).

Judy’s garden continues out onto the pavement, with 3 mini-gardens in 3 tree pits  (this one without a tree!)

Whilst this tree helpfully has a protective cage -great for tying in Hollyhocks and growing climbers too.

Across the road in a local square, Judy and other residents have worked closely with the council to transform the planting areas in this green space. A wildflower ‘meadow’ has been created using seeds supplied by Pictorial Meadow Seeds, nasturtiums and eschscholzia and other annuals added into the mix. A delight, especially in such an urban setting.

And at the other end of the square, Achillea and other perennials have been planted to create a ‘prairie style’ border. It will be really interesting to see how these recently planted up borders progress and I’m looking forward to my next visit to Judy’s garden (and her local environs) already.

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