For the last couple of years, my Mum and I have been tweaking a small border that sweeps in front of the seating area at the bottom of her garden. She wanted it to be low maintenance, drought tolerant (ha ha) and to provide a hazy screen, so we went for more of a prairie/New Wave style.
It’s early days, but I’d say the success of it has been mixed. Quite a few of the grasses haven’t thrived (in fact, they haven’t grown an inch since they were planted, despite assurances that they were suitable for clay) and quite a few plants (kniphofia, echinacea) have inexplicably died. Maybe I’m just a lousy designer (although in my defence, this was a case of tweaking rather than a full-scale redesign), but it hasn’t quite come together as I’d hoped.
I was interested, though, to read an interview with legendary garden designer John Brookes in the September issue of Gardens Illustrated. He doesn’t think this type of planting is suited to small domestic gardens. Maybe he’s got a point? The best gardens I’ve seen in the New Wave style – Trentham, Pensthorpe, Marchant’s Hardy Plants – are all pretty big.
Anyway, that’s my nephews, Max and Joe, in the background. Unusually, they are playing nicely together, recreating the opening ceremony of the Olympics with my mum’s old farmyard set.