It really is spring now, but it is so cold that the tulips have lasted a month. In the Par Terre it was not Blue Heron as expected, but Bulldog interspersed not with Cistula but something that was a much harsher yellow. Polly thought it was ‘very Christopher Lloyd‘. It is annoying as one puts a lot of thought into it, but Peter Nyssen could not have been nicer and are giving me a refund for Bulldog. If you took away the colour provided by the tulips at this time of year, your garden would seem sombre. There is every tulip available, many of which seem to have stepped out of a Dutch painting. There are several reasons why I select them, colour and robustness, and time of flowering. For example Ballerina has reappeared in my garden, year after year. What I do is plant them very deep on a bed of grit and bonemeal. Then I sprinkle grit on the top of the soil so that I do not make the mistake of planting something on top. This is all done the end of October or November.
At this time of year there are domes of gold, and these are Euphorbia Polychroma. This seems to seed mildly in cracks and gives an enchanting random effect. Euphorbia Palustris is larger, and the same colour, and does not seem to seed with me. I would not be without Valerian Phu Aurea which Victoria Wakefield gave me. It is a lovely golden colour now, and later on turns green, and the flower has a very sweet scent. There are quite a few geraniums with golden leaves which are pretty to mingle with. Geranium Anne Folkard and Geranium Anne Thomson, both seem to flower indefinitely.
At the moment that garden seems to consist of several different shades of green, which is very peaceful to live with. Cornus alternifolia argentea, and Cornus Controversa, are both breaking into leaf, and they are such elegant shapes that your eye is immediately drawn to them. The beds themselves, with a lot of effort on my and Polly’s behalf, are varying textures of blue, green, variegated green, the purple haze of thalictrums, the golden foliage of euonymus and the golden foliage of Thalictrum Flavum Illuminator; and the amber colour of the new foliage of the yew. When you walk around the garden looking at it it is roughly growing 2 inches a day.
Last weekend we had a group of Australians round the garden. In spite of not knowing my plants, it was very encouraging as they simply loved the garden. I had to speak to them with a microphone which I had never done before! They were more appreciative than anyone I had ever had.
Harriet Barings garden, 17th September 2012
Order Crateagus Laciniata , LANDFORD TREES Christopher Pilkington 6ft Nov. bare rooted 01794 390 808
3 SALLY HOLMES roses, DAVID AUSTIN ROSES @ £11 49 modern shrub rose 01902 376300, order catalogue and order roses
2 Molinia Skyracer Knoll Gardens Neil Lucas 01202 873931 plant in spring
Hemerocallis Margery Fish (from me) soft peach
Euphorbia Fern Cottage (from me]
20 Mount Everest Alliums @ £16 Peter Nyssen Ltd 0161 747 400
Ballerina Tulips £15 for 100 Peter Nyssen Ltd
White Triumphator Tulips £19 for 100 Peter Nyssen consult Polly
8 Green Beech from Nicholsons at Deddington 3 to 4 ft
Aster wun der Staff
Stipa tenuissima in spring
3 Aster Little Carlow
Helianthus Lemon Queen
The house is situated in the middle of fields, with no big trees. Justin, Harriets husband, told her she was being very bossy when she told him how to plant. Poor man, he has had to put up with me telling her to take everything out. I never thought she would do that.
2 or 3 bags of alpine grit, and a large bag of bonemeal, all from Barn Farm Plants in Wardington, Rose spray and sprayer (consult Polly)
What we have done for Harriet is just one border with a brick wall backing it, which was already there. We will see if she learns the names of everything, and how to look after them, and how keen she is. Then next year we will decide what to do, as she has two small children and no help to speak of. Polly and I have just taken over to Harriet 3 aster Little Carlow, and 3 Helianthus Lemon Queen, which she is going to plant next to a golden euonymous on the right hand side. We decided that this is quite a natural plant which will blend in to the landscape well, and looks good for a long time. If it ever stops raining I will take some photographs of what we have done. There has been a lot of paving laid which has tidied up everything and looks very nice. The paving slabs come from India, and I have used some here. They have worn very well, and are cheaper than york stone.
It is lucky for me that Harriet only lives about 10 minutes away.
I loved walking round the garden with Graham, as he had a fresh eye and seemed to recognise everything even in mid winter. He has galvanised me into making some changes for the better.
He was very impressed with Head Gardener Polly’s clipping and said the garden looked very professional.