lovely June – lovely Mercury – lovely garden
June 20, 2014
Occasionally, Great Dixter stays opens in the early evening when the garden is much less populated and so easier to absorb. The Front Garden is still in meadow mode with soft blue flowers of Geranium pratense ‘Mrs Kendall Clark’ dancing through the grassy herb layer. Occasionally Fergus gives an informal talk – last Saturday he talked to the Friends of Great Dixter about successional planting, supported by his mind maps which are something to behold, and introduced this year’s group of students from Germany, US, Japan, UK and Turkey who gave short but delightful explanations about their horticultural life pre Dixter. We could wander around the garden before and after and soak it all in. June is the time of reflection and review of the past combined with the chance to develop and fine tune intuitive skills. This garden in June . . . mmm . . .
We heard about staking methods and the bedding out of plants that are grown on from seed annual and biennials in seasonal batches often 6 months apart. Cornflowers, tall and precise, are a case in point in The Solar Garden.
In The Wall Garden, great contrasts to the ‘soft meadow look’ appear with the container plants. An expansive composition of form, texture, habit + confident use of colour. The domed head of Geranium madarense in flower (below) echoes the arch – clever. Looking at this grouping, foliage is to the fore.
Looking down on detailed combinations such as Ladybird poppies filtering through the honesty seeds and the fading tones of Smyrnium perfoliatum and then looking up and capturing a gutsy long view beyond the verbascum torch to the clipped gateway and the walnut in the Front Garden – these aren’t haphazard planting combinations but are all clearly thought through.
The light is dropping away so contrasting colours take centre stage but touches of delicacy are half hidden and so offer surprise on investigation such as this delicate pea wrapping itself through the thick stemmed tree peony.
Wandering through the garden rooms, the contrasts and, therefore the changes in character and mood, invite reflection – from my point of view anyway. Lessons to be learnt at every visit – a joy.
This month the variegated portuguese laurel throws fragrant flowers over the narrow path leading to the Orchard and High Garden. A modest shrub but does the business when required. Again contrasts flood the view-point . . .
Seeing what’s going on in the Vegetable Garden is a must on any visit here but this time my eye was taken with the elliptical spread of acid green Euphorbia in the prairie. Brush against the Leptospermum lanigerum in the High Garden – powerfully scented white flowers disguising the silver foliage at this time of year – and then look . . .
. . . through vertical strands of Thalictrum and Miscanthus and Stipa gigantea arching nicely all around with full stops of the odd Ferula flower . . .
. . . blood red flowers on a rose in the Long Border taken with a long lens from The Orchard stop the eye whereas a pretty spread of dwarf campanula gently washes the base of Lutyens curved steps.
Then a quick foray into the Exotic Garden where the winter coats and shawls around the bananas have been cast aside. Mostly a green foliage room with the occasional rose in flower prior to the big visual explosion that will happen here from July onwards. What have I learnt? So much; marvellous.
This must be the month when Mercury started it,
tongue in cheek, stirring his sky-pot,
scattering the winged languages.
First, the pictograph with its chiselled petals,
then its linear equivalent, syllabic –
the exact whistlestop shape of the swallow.
Philology: How sound falls in love with the script.
What I have to put my mind to
is June’s own rain-noise,
the talk that drowns out the traffic.
Fricatives and plosives, tree-language
learned in the schoolroom of the wind.
Translations from the rose-garden,
the half million sweet nothings you can’t make out.
blown husks like ripped envelopes
rowan-flowers white as folded-open letters.
And that black man
under the branch stock still with his ear
to the air and its underwater wash of shadows.
Alison Fell June Lightyear