November 2013 – The Modern Herbaceous Border – Audrey Barker

Well, what do we know about the ‘modern herbaceous border?’ You could say that the origins can be traced back to the borders of ‘old fashioned’ hardy herbaceous plants that made the country cottage gardens so attractive. Admittedly Gertrude Jekyll was an important proponent in the late nineteenth century with her plant groupings of particular colours but more about her after our lecture in February! If you ‘Google’ modern herbaceous border, you will find a bewildering 20+ pages of hundreds of pictures of beautiful borders with even more available at the click of a mouse’. Have a look ……………….

To find out more, we asked Aubrey Barker from Hopley’s nursery in Much Hadham to come and tell us about the phenomenon.

Aubrey started by describing Arley Hall in Cheshire which boasts the first ever (twin) herbaceous borders – planted in the 1840s. With a nod to Gertrude’s contribution in the 1880’s Aubrey reminded us of Alan Bloom’s significant contribution to garden design in the twentieth century – his island beds at Bressingham were a revolution in their day because unlike in a traditional herbaceous border, the plants can be seen from all directions. More recently Piet Oudolf has introduced grasses to the herbaceous border – Trentham has acres of them and Pensthorpe is renowned for its prairie planting of grasses and perennials. Many members will have seen several of these important gardens on day visits or during weekend breaks with the Club.

Where next for the herbaceous border?

Aubrey then started showing us countless lovely pictures of plants for herbaceous borders, ranging alphabetically, starting with the achillea ptarmica (pearl white), alcea rosea the pinkish hollyhock grown at Powys castle, Aruncus dioicus – the goats beard beloved by flower arrangers – growing 2m high but with tiny creamy white flowers, Campanula ‘octopus’ with its long, nodding, rose-pink flowers in the shape of Japanese lanterns on upright stems in summer through to Gaura ‘Rosy Jane’ – beautiful with grasses – its tiny flowers looking like stars etc. etc……………….

We stopped at the letter ‘i’ as it was tea time !

Hope to see you at our Splendid Christmas Buffet on 7 December!

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