Under my kitchen window I’ve a modest little patch of garden border. Just over two years ago I removed an old Potentilla bush which had been a great football proof plant for many years! Just moving one large shrub gave me the inspiration to totally change this part of the garden. I first of all replanted with Rudbeckia and Verbenas and Anthemis … to name a few. Then in late April 2013 a new path was created and two of the three blue arches that were rotting were removed.
So now I have two ‘long borders’ viewed from my kitchen window and I want to bring a little bit of Great Dixter into my ‘Mini Dixter’ border…
|Mini Dixter at Leavesnbloom and new naturalism could come to this garden soon!|
The Appeal of The Umbels
I love to photograph umbels!
Bronze Fennel | Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’ is already growing in this part of the garden and hopefully next year it will be mature enough to flower during the summer months.
But I want also some earlier flowering umbels in this part of the garden.
The lacy biennial Cow Parsley/Anthriscus sylvestris was very popular at the Chelsea Garden Show this year. It’s a favourite at Great Dixter and Fergus has been selectively propagating his choice plants from the darker leafed seedlings.
|New Naturalism – Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’|
I’ve been seriously thinking about purchasing a few of the darker stemmed Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ plug plants too as I love dark foliage in the garden. A friend grows this and told me not to purchase the seeds as many of them would not have the darker foliage that I’m looking for.
The white form is much too wild for my garden. It covers the countryside all around our locality with it’s masses of white frothy flowers in early summer.
|Anthriscus sylvestris growing wild in Perthshire|
If I want white frothy flowers then the other seed I’ve been thinking of growing is the annual Ammi majus. It looks very similar to Cow Parsley and it’s great for floating amongst summer perennials and as a cut flower. For the past two years I’ve been meaning to grow this plant and after seeing it this summer I just have to make a little room for it in 2014.
It’s another favourite at Great Dixter and if you click on the Great Dixter blog post – Staking and Hurdles you’ll see how Fergus grows it with tall red poppies.
|Ammi majus (wiki commons)|
The other umbel I’ve been considering is Chaeroplyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’ | Hairy Chervil. Chaeroplyllum grows wild in parts of Perthshire but seems to be much more restrained than the white Cow Parsley.
|New Naturalism – Chaeroplyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’|
What I like about this plant is that it’s a hardy perennial and the cow parsley like flowers blush in hues of soft pink. I’m not so sure if this is even grown at Great Dixter but it is grown at Harlow Carr.
Growing Vegetables For Their Flowers
This new naturalism even extends to growing vegetables for flowers and foliage. That’s certainly nothing new at Great Dixter as the Late Christopher Lloyd was my inspiration for that. He used to grow Ruby Chard as an ornamental foliage plant in the borders along with parsley in between French marigolds and Verbena ‘Purple Homestead’ in planted containers.
This summer I grew the dark leafted Lollo Rosso lettuce as an ornamental foliage plant as well as picking some of the leaves for salads.
|Lollo Rosso lettuce in a planted container with Cornus ‘Baton Rouge‘ and sedum|
While in the spring I let the Black Kale flower amongst the alliums. The yellow flowers are such a lure for the early pollinators.
|Black Kale flowers May 2013|
I only move the kale seedlings into their final planting position when they are big enough to resist the slugs and snails.
Fergus also grows Parsnips | Pastinaca sativa for their yellow umbel flowers at Great Dixter. They are yet another flower that the bees adore.
|New Naturalism – Yellow umbel Parsnip flowers | Pastinaca sativa|