I admit to being a plant nerd. It's not that I have to have the latest plants, it's that I desire the ultimate desirable plants, the unusual. Some plants leave me cold. I am convinced I shall never have my dream garden for it would cost far too much. As another garden show opens with its lure of new plants, what are the British public planting?
Last month I took a train journey and on the way I had to spend almost an hour in the middle of nowhere waiting for a connection in Lincolnshire. What to do? Have camera, will take plant pics. I walked the streets and photographed front gardens.
The British public, if this is a typical example, is not very adventurous with plants. The gardens mainly belonged to bungalows, so I am guessing the occupants were over 65 and retired. Many still plant in single plants, spaced neatly around a lawn. Not a drift to be seen. Colour is usually a jumble. The plants are cheap, cheerful and reliable. No-one is going out on a limb. No-one is taking a risk. At least most gardens were neat in this area, none were uncared for.
Reliable trees, usually planted on the very edge of the garden include Fagus (beech), Betula (birch) and Eucalyptus (eucalypt) with smaller gardens, if they have a tree always plumping for Acer (Japanese maples). The predominant flower colour is pink, the predominant leaf colour and backdrop colour is green with one or two exceptions. In style, there was a balance between shrubby borders and herbaceous borders and a few potted plants.
From the round border with vibrant colouring colouring provided by oriental poppies surrounded by a herbaceous border with Geranium, Sisyrichium and Phlomis, to the Weigela, Hydrangea, Lavatera and Ceanothus shrubby borders, I guess this is a fair cross-section of what the British public plant. I am seeing more Phlomis than I used to. Lots of roses were in evidence, both hybrids and shrubby rugosa types. Petunias and Viola, potted Pelargonium, Argyranthemum and Lavandula were providing summer bedding. Yet there were one or two surprises, it was nice to see the golden fuchsia as well as the obvious choice of F. 'Riccartonii', one garden had a handsome pink-flowered Hebe, someone had been bold enough to plant a dark-leaved beech as a shrubby hedge and also plant the dark-leaved Corylus next to a blue conifer offering a striking combination.
There was one shining star for me and it is the first time I have seen it outside a show garden or magazine. Leycesteria 'Golden Lanterns' looked absolutely fabulous - a must-have. There was also a fine example of Choisya ternata 'Sundance' often so poorly grown in the U.K. What's it like in your neck of the woods? Are people more adventurous with their plantings?
Catch up with colour and how to use it in my fabulous colour books online
Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017