[caption id="attachment_2432" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Papaver orientale 'Juliane' hot and sunny site"]
There is a terrible drawback to gardening called impulse buying. I only have to walk through a garden centre on a birdseed buying mission, to find hands have wandered off on auto pilot and gathered up pots or bulbs.
For our garden, this is strictly not allowed as we are still in the garden-making stage of cutting back, removing stumps and dealing with ground and lay-out. (See my garden rescue at www.guardian.co.uk/profile/catharine-howard
. Soil first, plants later. It is a hard decision as well kept nurseries display to entice and those pots, especially when leafed up and in flower make all of us drool, salivate and reach for our purses.
Now you wouldn’t do this to your house would you? I mean go shopping and randomly buy a few pink cushions here, some black ribbon there, a tartan pelmet as well before a foray into eclectic duck egg blue dinner plates? Would you? Or at least you take careful consideration of what you had back at home.
[caption id="attachment_2433" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Convallaria majalis 'Variegata' for cool and shady places"]
Now this is where Beth Chatto has come in and informed our plant buying and growing attitudes. She is truly the Vidal Sassoon of the flower world. Her mantra, right plant right place, has taken hold in the wider gardening public.
My copy of “UNUSUAL PLANTS - The Beth Chatto Gardens”, is well thumbed, decorated with coffee cup circles, and dated 1997. Doubtless many of the plant names have changed but never mind that. Apart from her prose and immaculate taste in vegetation, it is the Lists that allure. Lists for drought loving plants, naturalising, retentive soil, dry shade (the most taxing) and lists of what attracts the bee and butterfly. I’ve lost count of the times I have photocopied pages for my customers, and it is on auto-pilot that I visit these front pages to check my planting plans.
[caption id="attachment_2435" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Allium sphaerocephalon with day lilies"]
It is a simple and beautiful truth, that any plant placed in the right environment will thrive but much more important LOOK GOOD. Beth learnt her botanising from her plant ecologist husband (have a look at the Andrew Chatto papers at www.bethchatto.co.uk
What informs her artistic flair is a thorough grounding in where each plant came from. Be inquisitive and copy this, it is the passport to successful planting.