CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

A garden of the senses

PUBLISHED: 11:39 05 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:39 05 November 2013

The cottage garden style will never succumb to the dictates of passing fashion

The cottage garden style will never succumb to the dictates of passing fashion

Archant

Paradise on Earth is easily attainable if you want it badly enough

Many of us have childhood memories of gardens of some sort or another: the flash of a goldfish, the scent of a rose, the splash of a fountain, a dew-beaded spider’s web, clandestine raspberry raids, eating raw peas straight from the pod or stroking the furry leaves of ‘lamb’s ear’. A garden that manages to encompass all these senses is a truly successful one.

Choice of plant is, of course, subjective. We all like different things but when it comes to flower colour the only one I have a real problem with is strong or ‘acid’ yellow which can be difficult to site during the summer months for some reason. Yellow is difficult to avoid in the spring with the advent of the daffodil, forsythia, and winter aconite, and in the autumn when herbaceous perennials especially can be mixed successfully using other yellows (heleniums), reds (rudbeckias), purples (dahlias like ‘The Bishop of Llandaff’) and even blues (Aster ‘Little Carlow’). It’s funny to think that gardeners in the UK only became widely colour conscious during the 1980’s when the ghost of Gertrude Jekyll, the leading light in colour coordination at the turn of the last century, started to whisper from the grave.

Having said that, one of the most free and gay (in the old meaning of the word) of all floral expression, and one that casts dogma to the wind, is the spontaneous cottage garden style which will never succumb to the dictates of passing fashion. Purple irises, orange poppies, yellow daisies and bright red annual all stand cheek by jowl and revel in every glorious moment.

Gardens should always include evocative scents. The scent of the tall white tobacco on a balmy, late summer’s evening, that special smell of rain after a bout of dry weather, wet moss, bonfires, lavender, violets and freshly mown grass all have a magic of their own. Us humans, the cultivators, the tamers of Mother Nature, have the upper hand. We have no excuse not to have scent in the garden all the year round. Winter-flowering shrubs are often highly scented and these include sarcococca (winter box), mahonia, chimonanthus (winter sweet), witch hazel and Viburnum farreri. That delicate scent of Iris unguicularis as a cut flower in a vase indoors adds a magic to any room. So, we should not despair as we enter into winter.

Just close your eyes and think of all those spring scents of lilac, hyacinth, primrose, wisteria, stock and daffodil. In March the heavy scent of Daphne odora, a shrub perhaps best planted in a protected corner where its glorious smell can be trapped on a still day, pervades the garden. There are so many other star performers, not forgetting good old common jasmine (Jasminum officinale), an incredibly useful climber well suited to a cold, North-facing wall or fence. Remember in the spring to sow seed of night-scented stocks, a remarkable unshowy little plant with really quite boring little flowers that give off a magnificently strong scent.

Then there’s the ritual of plunging your nostrils into the large, double, red flowers of Peony rubra plena as a reminder that summer has finally arrived. When I smell this flower for the first time I am transported to another world, heaven perhaps, or how I imagine it to be. No self-respecting garden, surely, is without roses in this country, although I see little point in growing them unless they are powerfully scented. In my vegetable garden I have included picking roses that include ‘Princess Alexandra’, ‘Graham Thomas’, ‘Just Joey’ and ‘Brother Cadfael’. Add ‘Celestial’, ‘Conrad F. Meyer’, ‘Empress Josephine’, ‘Fantin Latour’, ‘Mme Hardy’, ‘Maiden’s Blush’ and ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ to your list of exceptionally well scented bush roses. ‘Etoile de Hollande’, ‘Guinee’, and ‘Compassion’ are just three strongly scented climbers.

Some plants can be stroked. The furry feel of the inside to a broad bean pod or the leaves of Paulownia tomentosa, the waxy petals of Magnolia grandiflora, the cold, smooth, freshly revealed, white trunk of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii are all deliciously tactile. Music is an essential ingredient to a garden, something supplied gratis by Mother Nature in the form of bird song. The gentle music of moving water can easily be achieved with the advent of small solar pumps or the more powerful electric submersible ones. Some plants rustle in the wind, one of the ‘chattiest’ being bamboo. Finally we should cater to exciting tastes, with arbours dripping with grapes, a plum against a sunny wall, a patch of strawberries in the border, perhaps a blackberry trained over the potting shed.

Paradise on Earth is easily attainable if you want it badly enough.

-----------------------

This article by Sir Roddy Llewellyn is from the November 2013 edition of Cotswold Life magazine.

0 comments

More from Out & about

Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search