Our last speaker was a consummate professional – of course Hilary Thomas had the edge on us having been the Head of Garden Design at Capel Manor College for many years. Graduates of her courses have won numerous medals at RHS shows and are respected for their excellent plant knowledge and imaginative use of plants. So …….. Hilary arrived early, set up her equipment, tested it (!) and proceeded to talk with enthusiasm and verve whilst sharing with us a splendid digital presentation of colourful plants for every season For inspiration visit Hyde Hall, Essex which has begun to adopt Piet Oudolf’s naturalistic planting in one area of the garden or Holme Hall, Norfolk with its contemporary walled kitchen garden and front garden designed and planted by Chelsea winner Arne Maynard. The garden incorporates large herbaceous borders, trained fruit, vegetables and a traditional greenhouse.
Hilary’s tips for an interesting colourful garden included:-
• Be bold – take out half of what you have in a border and double what you have left! In other words repetition of a plant across different beds gives a flowing continuity.
• No matter how small your garden use a few tall plants – spikes and spires – try Macleaya, the plum poppy with Verbena Bonariensis and poppies.
• Don’t forget grasses (e.g. Stipa tenuissima) but buy a packet of seeds – much cheaper than a plant from the nursery! Plant grasses in well-drained soil and don’t feed them too much.
• Grow loyal, easy plants – Bergenia makes excellent ground cover and is a hit with flower arrangers, Hesperis matronalis (Sweet Rocket) will give you scent in the evening and Geranium macrorhizum will quickly fill a difficult site with its pink or white flowers and virtually evergreen leaves.
As usual this is a mere snapshot of another interesting and enjoyable Gardening Club meeting.