I was reading the other day that a garden should not have a beautiful view, as the view would be a distraction away from the garden and the garden could never live up to the view. Throwing caution and modesty to the wind – what rot! Unlike Lucy Honeychurch and Miss Bartlett in ‘A Room with a View’, we have a view. Although at the moment some people may be more in sympathy with Mr Emerson and his son George, who had a view but didn’t value it, as the hill opposite our garden has oil seed rape ablaze.
Oil seed rape is a particularly strident acid yellow with a touch of mustard thrown in. Not a colour that would seem sensitive to either the English idyll of a garden or countryside. However, Pettifers is made of stronger stuff and it never shies away from colour at any time of the year. Cue Euphorbia polychroma ‘Major’. This is a 80cm tall dome of yellow that if the colour was reflected on a pH chart, would come in at about 4. Wince inducing but perfectly in keeping with the field opposite. By repeating a colour from the landscape in the garden we have done the clever trick of melting the two together, or as the landscape gardeners did in the 18th century of ‘borrowing’ the landscape.
Within the garden Euphorbia polychroma ‘Major’ contrasts with the usual spring blues that always abound, the dark purple of ‘Queen of the Night’ and ‘Black Parrot’ tulips and another euphorbia, ‘Excalibur’. This is a new plant to the garden and at the moment is a smouldering bush of deep purple leaves striped with white and green – the acid yellow flowers come later. Factor in the mauve of the bench placed in front and you have quite an animated colour palette. But it works because the area is in full sun where subtler colours would look drained and washed out. Sun is what the euphorbias need. They’ll take half sun but they’ll throw up fewer stems from the base each year and won’t live as long.
Well, would Miss Honeychurch and Miss Bartlett approve? It might not be the Arno but for a north facing English garden I think the Cockney Signora wouldn’t receive many complaints.
Picture to follow