Pretty Town Garden
A long, narrow garden in the middle of the city has bang in the centre of it an enormous and ancient ash tree. This could have inhibited the design but instead it enhances it by distinctly separating the planting styles in borders in front of the tree and behind it. A gently curved path -just visible above-takes you from a paved sitting area next to the kitchen through wide herbaceous borders and round the side of the tree to a grassed area at the far end. This area has a mixture of bold, architectural planting: a large Fatsia japonica hides the shed and a bamboo hides the compost bins whilst buttercups, bluebells and borage are allowed to grow wild. Buttercups colonised on a bank at the base of the tree trunk shine brightly in the shade of the tree. Surprisingly the leafy canopy of this huge deciduous ash tree creates very little shade on the deep borders on either side of the path. This planting is a lush and varied mix of herbaceous perennials and shrubs carefully selected for their contrasting textures and tones in the leaves. Below a variegated Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Irene Paterson’ provides evergreen interest throughout winter and repeats the green and plum tones of many of the herbaceous plants surrounding it.Now in early summer the herbaceous mix is particularly inspiring. It’s three weeks before most of the plants will flower but the leaves of Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ below
edging the paths along side Alchemilla mollis (below) make a gorgeous rich tapestry.
And a large shrub of Weigelia ‘Bristol Ruby’ sits in the middle of the border giving height and substance whilst picking up the plums and green leaves of the low-growing plants. With birdsong from the tree and beds full to bursting you could be in the middle of the countryside rather than the centre of a busy city. And although little is in flower till next month there is enough interest in the textures and leaf forms to inspire. Below is Angelica archangelica with its magnificent seedhead which is just as stunning at this stage as it will be when it bursts into flower in a week or two.
The garden is lined with crumbling brick walls so a haven for slugs and snails and the owner is experimenting with a new product Slug Gone. These wool pellets are placed round the soil next to vulnerable plants to deter slugs apparentlymaking it difficult to move over. They are safe for birds and more or less invisible and will dissolve over time. I’ll report back on the effectiveness of the product in a week or two.