Monthly Archives: August 2015

Raised beds – a welcome at the door

A gorgeous Cambridgeshire pub – the Red Lion at Whittlesford. The interior is without doubt  comfortable and welcoming, with lovely coffee – but it was the exterior with the raised bed planting that caught the eye of the bee.  We love this because the planting frames the doorway so beautifully. The pub is almost directly on the street, so the raised beds are an inspirational way to create a garden where there isn’t one.  It’s only a little picture, but the “garden” is mainly evergreen, using what we think is cream-edged Hosta undulate var. albomarginata as a focal point with variegated ivy, which could well be Hedera helix ‘Glacier’, and simple chives. A lovely blend of colour and contrasting foliage. Shame you have to have a fire exit sign!



High summer, hot colour


It’s a hot and hazy day, and whizzing past the Essex cornfields, basking in glorious afternoon sun, we zoomed in on Hyde Hall where there is plenty for the eye to see, and plenty to keep the bees busy..

Contrasting colours make the most impact – and never more so than when the sun is shining.  Massed Agapanthus with Helenium and Allium make a stunning combination. At Hyde Hall,  they are stunning on a large scale. These are complimentary colours to make the heart sing.  Pale ultramarine blue and the brilliantly brassy oranges are direct opposites in the colour wheel, and the dull purple alliums just add a touch more depth. We discovered the name of the – little egg-shaped ones: Allium sphaerocephalan. This kind of planting draws the eye (or the bee) from a distance, and gets even better close up.


Hyde Hall’s plantings perfectly reflect the wide landscapes of the South Essex prairies. It’s a dry garden, exposed to the sun and wind, with very little shade. The designers who laid out the garden are expert at mass plantings that fill the space with shape and colour, and move in the breeze. Just feel the warm dry air and warmth in this picture – a great memory of summer.


Almost like a “painted” garden – here we are looking at Gaura lindheimeri,  which provides the effect of pink and white lace, with Verbena bonariensis, and beyond them the soft mauve spires of Perovskia and a bold clump of golden grass, which is maybe Oryzopsis miliacae, with just a smattering of Verbascum, gone over, so we won’t know which variety.  Truly, garden texture has never been better than this. This is a huge island bed which works beautifully from all angles – the combination and layering of plants changes as you walk around the border.

Surely this must be the prettiest car park in Essex. It’s filled with Gaura lindheimeri, Stipa tenuissima and friendly Verbena bonariensis.