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Landscape of Dreams

October 19, 2016


Whilst I was laid up last weekend a very interesting and inspiring book came my way. Landscape of Dreams explores and illustrates the extraordinary gardens created over the last three decades by Isobel and Julian Bannerman. Even though many of these gardens are on a grand scale, with stunning garden architecture contributing to many of their designs, all their gardens will leave you with inspiring planting ideas.

The Ivy in Chippenham was one of their first and I remember being stunned by the scent of beautiful roses rambling over a series of re-claimed metal arches. At ground level  Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ sprawled over gravel and I’ve used the combination of old roses and catnip ever since in my own garden. The Bannermans next moved to Hanham Court in Bristol where they had an opportunity to make an even larger garden with many more plant combinations to inspire.  In the image below the ground was punctuated with clumps of Euphorbia characias subs.wulfennii growing with clipped box balls through gravel. The shrill, lime-green flowers look great in urban or country gardens and have been a favourite of mine ever since.


And equally wonderful were simple parterres filled with gravel and planted with pots of white tulips.


The book is charmingly written by Isobel Bannerman and is an unpretentious record of their lives and work. And the back cover reflects their ability to make even the simplest planting scheme look sublime.


Here at home the Verbena bonariensis is still flowering and is three metres tall and looks rather brilliant mingling with the soft orange leaves of an Amelanchier shrub planted behind it.


And here it is again weaving its way through a half-standard holly to mingle with the red berries.


On the allotment a green manure mustard sown 4-6 weeks ago has filled an empty bed and produced these pretty flowers. It’s good for breaking up lumpy ground so will be sown in another area where the soil is strangely heavy and holds together like clay when crushed.


I picked almost the last of the nasturtiums before emptying the bed ready to sow the mustard seeds.



5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2016 2:41 pm

    Sounds like a really good book for an autumn/winter reading list, thank you. I’ve seen this euphorbia ‘trained’ to grow as perfect globes like this but have never managed it myself. Sigh. What’s the secret? Your amelanchier has superb colour, looks great with the pop of purple too.

    • October 20, 2016 3:32 pm

      It’s a fascinating read and the book reflects their shared vision on projects and how they then achieve such awe-inspiring gardens. I think to get euphorbias to form neat spheres you need to prune hard in Autumn taking out the dead flower stems and straggly leaves. Make sure there are a handful of fresh young leaves emerging in the centre of the plant from where the flowers will emerge in Spring. .

      • October 20, 2016 3:43 pm

        That’s great, thanks, I shall order the books and set to pruning my wayward euphorbias.

  2. October 25, 2016 8:18 pm

    Really interesting that you are doing a green manure. When I was at school we had lessons in agricultural science and I remember green manure. This was 53 years ago. I bet they do not teach useful things now.

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