Grow your own leaves

No, this is not – to my knowledge – a reference to yet another RHS tome in the successful series, but refers to my passion for foliage.

When I was writing Grow Your Own Flowers, shrubs and trees and perennials grown for the sheer beauty of their leaves were, as the title of the book kind of suggests, elbowed aside – allowed barely a mention apart from as mere supporting players for cut flowers, that is. I actually found this somewhat restricting and rather unnatural, since the subtly of a predominently green tapestry has always been a bit of a passion of mine.

Indeed, one of the parts of my own garden with which I am most satisfied – and for a long season, too – is a leafy and shady area about which I wrote here a couple of years ago when it was just getting going, which I call ‘Torquay’ (for slightly silly reasons – it is all in the previous post…).

This week I had cause to look at some of the more recent pictures of  ‘Torquay’ (taken some time in late summer last year)  when I was composing a reply to a Telegraph reader who wanted help in prettifying an un-plantable shady part of her new garden blighted by a septic tank that previous owners had covered in gravel.

I thought I would put them on here for all to see:

A picture of my garden

'Torquay' (click to enlarge)

Even in the wide view, above, taken of the area surrounding  ‘Torquay’  from the other side of my pond, there is scarcely a flower in sight (the only prominent thing being a huge clump of scarlet Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Taurus’ on the left hand side).  Leaves just do it all by themselves.

A picture of my garden

More 'Torquay' (click to enlarge)

I am far too idle to map out and name every plant in this other closer view of the potted central area, the population of which I quite enjoy changing  a bit each year.  But suffice it to say that tucked around the permanent posh urns of clipped box last summer were Cannas, Ricinus, Melianthus major and a pair of colourful cordylines (that both bit the dust this winter because I wasn’t quick enough off the mark in the lengthy cold snap), a couple of in-the-ground Kirengshomas and various Hostas (the bright little one in the foreground is ‘June’, next to a little patch of self-seeded Corydalis cheilanthifolia).

There is also an uninvited and definitely unplanned ‘extra’ in the scene –  tucked in on the extreme right end of the group you may notice a stout, flame-flowered, giant-leafed Gerbera.   All of us gardening hacks were given one of these in our party bags at the Thompson and  Morgan Press Day last summer.  Mine looked, it has to be said almost despite itself, quite at home in ‘Torquay’.

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3 Responses to Grow your own leaves

  1. Amalee Issa says:

    Helen,

    I often think it’s an understanding of foliage that marks out the top bananas of the horticultural world, as any old fool like me can get to grips with flowers and fruit trees. Wonderful, wonderful post.

    Amalee

    p.s. Not that I’m stalking you, but has your agent sorted out a list of places you’re peddling your book, yet?

    • Helen says:

      Thanks for your enthusiasm Amalee – very much appreciated. I don’t actually have an agent yet… However, in the relatively near future: I will be signing copies of my RHS GROW YOUR OWN FLOWERS book at Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells on 26th February at 11.30 pm. I am also doing a book signing at Wisley on Mothers Day (April 3rd – 2 – 4pm), when both the RHS book and the Thorny Problems book will be available.

  2. Judy_C says:

    I’d advise anybody to read Phillips and Rix

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