Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Contrasts & textures

(The Exotic Garden framed by the cow shed)

A brief summary from Fergus study day on creating a tropical garden

In the early days of Dixters Exotic Garden Fergus & Christopher Lloyd started & sampled with just a small selection of plants. A lot of them were raised by themselves from seeds or cuttings. As the garden progressed they would try more plants & different ways of planting, even now the bedding are experimented with every year. This year it has become a taller & shadier lush jungle.

The banana trees - Musa basjoo & Musa ensete are the focal point of the planting, one bed is worked on at a time and then the next one would correspond with that. There are a small handful of permanent plants. As they get bigger the planting morphs with them too.

The hot & humid microclimate in this area created by the surrounding yew hedges & york stone paths allow for more tender plants to grow more successfully. It is also a frost trap, so as the threat of frost become more imminent we will at the ready for the mass exodus of lifting plants, protecting & putting them in storage.

Contrasts & textures are what makes the garden - with alot of things grown mainly for their foliage, shapes and structure, if they flower then that is an extra bonus. But flowers like Dahlias & Cannas are also used to provide splashes of colour. Hardy elements can be incorporated into this mix too. Plants are chosen if they have character and something to offer from late July to the early October. They retain a freshness & do not go brown like fennel or cardoons.

C. Lloyd had written about doing such a garden in the 1970s and Fergus imagine it to be like walking into a Rousseau painting. The experience is to be three dimensional as opposed to the flatness that you can get in by just putting some bedding in a border. And to quote a line from Beth Chatto - 'to paint the sky' as well as the bottom.

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