When we arrived at Bramble Cottage in December 2012 the land here was mainly rough pasture and brambles with a few shrubs near the house. Once our fruit and vegetable garden was established I started digging over and planting up areas to make a colourful garden we could enjoy.
Near the house and in the curved beds around the terrace I decided to plant a ‘Hot Garden’. Like the rest of the garden this is south facing (we are so lucky) and the terrace area catches full sun in summer. I imagined a tall luscious planting scheme with flowers in bright colours – pinks, orange, yellow and red – along with foliage plants with large exotic leaves in greens and burgundies. I was hoping to form an area that felt enclosed by lush planting to give a tropical feel during the late spring, summer and early autumn months. I took inspiration from the late Christopher Lloyd’s Exotic Garden at Great Dixter though on a much smaller scale!
So, I started with tall plants to form the main framework of the curves. Bright yellow Achillea filipendulina or common yarrow looks good in midsummer with the bright red balls of Lychnis chalcedonica and rusty-orange heleniums nudging against tall sunflowers and the exotic passion flower scrambling up an obelisk. The flower heads of the passion flower are fascinating!
The shrub Amicia zygomeris with its unusual triangular leaves and pea shaped yellow flowers was a talking point at the open gardens I had a couple of years ago. It’s hardy but benefits from a little protection in the winter so I mound a little soil around the base in the autumn. So far I haven’t had many flowers on this plant, maybe this year it will decide to perform for me!
For blasts of hot colour a mix of dahlias planted amongst the tall shrubs give vibrancy to the garden through July to October. The choice of colours for dahlias is wide, I used to think of them as an old-fashioned flower but have been converted in recent years. I’ve used David Howard which has rich burgundy foliage and a multitude of orange flowers, Black Wizard – a deep maroon colour with spiky petals, Tarahiti Ruby for a bright scarlet, the burgundy-black La Recoleta and a fuchsia pink cacti dahlia. The brighter the better!
Closer to the terrace the spreading shrub rose ‘Frilly Cuff’ has fragrant bright fuchsia-pink flowers that bloom repeatedly near to lush planting of yellow Helenium, Crocosmia and Solidago mixed with the bright red Crocosmia Lucifer. I really love Lucifer, it is a true deep red and on tall stems the flowers give real zings of colour across the beds.
The Castor Oil plant is amazing to look at, standing about one and a half metres high it has rich burgundy leaves and spiky seed heads. It’s an annual and is killed by the first frost, but is easy to grow so I make sure I have a few dotted about into gaps between plants.
Each year I keep adding and changing plants in this area to achieve the feel I want, there is still some way to go but I’m getting there.
I welcome visitors to the garden by appointment so if you are in the area drop me an email or give me a ring to arrange a visit.