It feels like spring is here, so it’s high time I got back to writing something about garden design, rather than assorted bees and beetles.
This is a quite superb scene I snapped at Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire last year. To be fair I photographed it in mid May, but spring is earlier this year so I’d venture a guess it’s already looking almost as good.
Erysimum “Bowle’s Mauve” is a short-lived mini-shrub forming a domed bush with greyish leaves. It’s ideal for the front of the border, and also grows well in gravel gardens and even in old walls. The purple flowers appear through most of the year, most profusely in spring and early summer.
Cynara cardunculus has wonderfully architectural silvery grey, deeply divided leaves, usually spiny, and up to 1.2m long at the base of the plant. It bears numerous thistle-like flowers, that emerge from a scaly head. Ideal for the back of the border, it’s at its best in late spring when the leaves are young. One of my favourites!
Tulipa “Bleu Aimable” is an old variety dating back to 1916, they are a very long lasting tulip with slightly smaller heads of silvery lavender mauve. Late April and early May flowering.
Kerria japonica “Pleniflora” is a vigorous, deciduous spring flowering shrub that will grow almost anywhere and soon develops into a thicket of tall graceful stems with suckers growing from the creeping roots. Its double, yellow flowers burst out from mid to late spring and are beautifully surrounded by bright green, oval leaves. A garden classic.
Berberis thunbergii “Aurea” This deciduous shrub, with yellow-green leaves, gives a striking display of fiery orange and red tints and red fruits.
Here are a few suggestions for companion planting:
- Euphorbia myrsinites - yellow-green bracts.
- Allium giganteum – round purple flowers in spring.
- Crambe maritima – silvery grey, curly leaves, suited to the front of the border
- Delphinium “Alice Artindale” – tall thin spikes of blue-purple flowers.
- Tulipa “Elegant Lady” – creamy yellow flowers in late spring.
Waterperry Gardens is near Wheatley, a couple of miles outside Oxford, towards London on the A40, and is open daily 10am – 5.30pm.