I've been meaning to do a few blogs about doing Chelsea at home but, like the British summer, I am slow at getting into gear this year...
A few stand-out things have stayed with me since Chelsea, and they won't go away. I think this is an excellent marker of VERY GOOD STUFF. Hurrah for slowness.
Cleve West's garden for Brewin Dolphin was my instant favourite. Not JUST because of the frothy, billowing planting (which, if you know me at all, was bound to appeal), but more importantly because all that froth had a foil...
...my eyes could dance over bliss, and then have a rest
The planting was staggeringly beautiful (this IS Cleve after all)
Ferns and alchemilla creeping, with irises, euphorbia, poppies ammi and matthiasella holding their hands, and then the whole thing crowned by cirsium and crambe (which wasn't even out, but was all the more beautiful for that...I do love the PROMISE of something don't you?)
To get this at home any time soon is tough without access to a Russian oligarch
...those amazing yew monoliths need years and years of growth and clipping...this is gardening for your grandchildren.
But you CAN do it small, and get the same effect.
This is one of those occasions where if you have little or no space, you win. You can fill a space with these, and get that same sense of majesty and softness because your garden is within each container. In the ground it would just look a bit embarrassing because the topiary would feel too small.
Container. Make them beautiful. This is one of those times where you should probably pay more than is strictly comfortable. Mine is from Crocus, for whom I regularly review products. Their own-brand terracotta pots are distinctly lovely, with a soft apricottyness about them. Get your pot first and then choose your plants accordingly.
A piece of topiary. Box or yew, but for Cleve-ness, choose dark, mysterious yew.
Some froth. Fine to go and find some frothy bedding like diascia or verbena at the garden centre, but for less faffing next year I'd go for little ferns, alchemilla mollis, or erigeron.
I use a half and half mix of multi-purpose and john innes 2, and I usually bung in a handful of fertiliser granules if I have them to hand. I plant slowly and carefully because I enjoy it. I water diligently and always put a big saucer under the pot so that the compost can soak moisture up from the bottom. With terracotta pots like these, I also water the outside of the pot when it's hot.
A courtyard full of these, or a long path lined with them? Fabulous.