Thursday, 8 January 2009

A whiter shade of pale

A few weeks before Christmas, I met up with a garden designer friend at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge to enjoy the Winter Garden. It has been a few years since I was last there, and great to see how the planting has matured whilst new schemes are still being introduced. I've always been a fan of year round planting and I just love the way winter exposes a wealth of interesting stems, leaves and shapes into garden.

I'm designing a long border for a large house at the moment and the theme is very much year round interest whilst also providing screening and a welcome as the border is near the house entrance. My client also recently visited Anglesey Abbey and it was great to see their enthusiasm for lots of trees and shrubs. Most of the time, I feel I'm inflicting my plant choices onto clients - who are always pleased with the plants, I have to say - but it's so useful to have some feedback about what clients would actually like in their own gardens. There's surreal glade of ghostly white-barked Betula utilis var. jacquemontii at Anglesey Abbey's Winter Garden and we've already earmarked this tree for the client's new border.

Evergreen shrubs are key year round players and even the most common ones, such as Viburnum tinus (always found in superstore car parks) can be made even more interesting if you clip them into a formal shape instead of leaving them to get straggly and, to be honest, ugly. Another great Viburnum is the Leatherleaf one, Viburnum rhytidophyllum which has bold textured large evergreen leaves. They looked great at Anglesey Abbey.