a looking at plants weekend – wisley + great dixter
October 3, 2013
We took the students to RHS Wisley to engage with, absorb and discuss end of summer planting as part of Advanced Planting Design module. From the fruit mound, we gazed across acres of orchard trees and marveled at the excellence of management and good house keeping that was on display. The dusters must be out at dawn to buff up the fruits on Malus ‘Bloody Ploughman’ . .
. . scanning down the glasshouse borders, more commonly referred to as the Oudolf borders, the bleached heads of Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ make striking and graphic statements at this time of year. And at close quarters, this upright grass looks glorious with Persicaria ‘Firedance’ . . .
. . . a sweeping brush stroke of Calamagrostis brachytricha – soft + tactile – forms yet another layer in a composition of form, habit and texture. Mass planting of echinacea, upright dark cones standing proud now, flows like a stream back into the woodland.
More C. brachytricha displaying its silky plumes that contrast well with the darker thistle heads of Eryngium giganteum. There’s a great sense of power now in the character of shrubs like Cotinus – a dramatic last burst of visual ‘fortissimo’ – while the fingers of Perovskia ‘Little Spire’, also in their last flourish, demand attention in a more ladylike and willowy manner.
In the perennial meadow, where the planting mix has been defined by James Hitchmough, we recognised Silphium perfoliatum, daisy heads on tall stems ranging away over lower planting in this interesting gritty landscape. We were a tad stumped however, identifying the architectural seed heads in the image above. Neither members of staff had a clue!
On Battleston Hill, a forest of gums caused discussion . . .
. . as did carpets of much smaller things. Even without the added bonus of flowers, cyclamen is a winner with foliage that is nigh perfection.
The following day, a trip to Great Dixter , without the students although encouraged to visit, to see Conifer (L) and Miscanthus (R) perform in the annual Dixter Dachshund Day. They did well. Thanks Perry? or is it Adele for the facebook page.
Signs of the changing season here too . . . .
. . but the dynamic structure of this garden is never masked by the seasonal planting . . .
. . . the one compliments the other.
Here the fruit is integrated with the decorative planting. Some of these pear trees are very old and make a charming knarled lattice frame through which to view other areas. And, the cotinus in the Long Border, is behaving just like its relation at Wisley as one would expect.
In the Exotic Garden, there is abundant growth this year. Carefully squeezing down the narrow paths is like a voyage of discovery . . .
. . . so good to see Mrs Oakley Fisher, once more, and still in flower too. It’s all about the plants, of course.
Out in the late amber afternoon,
Confused among chrysanthemums,
Her parasol, a pale balloon,
Like a waiting moon, in shadow swims.
Her furtive lace and misty hair
Over the garden dial distill
The sunlight,–then withdrawing, wear
Again the shadows at her will.
Gently yet suddenly, the sheen
Of stars inwraps her parasol.
She hears my step behind the green
Twilight, stiller than shadows, fall.
“Come, it is too late,–too late
To risk alone the light’s decline:
Now has the evening long to wait,”–
But her own words are night’s and mine. Hart Crane In Shadow