The Inner Temple Garden


Late summer/early autumn is always the peak season for the High Border at the Inner Temple Garden, and head gardener Andrea Brunsendorf thinks  that this year, it’s looking the best it’s ever looked. I agree.


Almost every colour can be found in it  – orange, yellow, red, magenta, purple, pink and blue – and yet it doesn’t look garish. It just glows in the mellow autumn light. It should power on for a few weeks yet, so if you’re in London, take the time to go and see it.


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While we’re on the subject of the Inner Temple Garden, here’s one of my favourite parts of it – the Peony Garden. It is home to peonies, obviously, but what I really like about it is its green-ness. There is colour, but it’s quite muted. The magnolia kicks off the show, then the wisteria takes over, followed by peonies, foxgloves, hardy geraniums and clematis.


During the Chelsea Fringe/Open Squares weekend, other Temple gardens were open too. If you get the chance to go, do – it’s fascinating to walk around a part of London that is rarely open to the public. There’s even a tiny shop that sells shirts and pommade. But it’s not all traditional, either – I liked this slightly unruly planting in a raised bed next to a very grand house.

Spring bulbs


I’ve done quite a few posts on this blog about Andrea Brunsendorf’s amazing pot display. The last time I visited, the surfaces of most of the pots were covered in conifer trimmings – something they do in Germany as it’s too cold in the winter for most bedding plants. This time, it had erupted into colour. The bright red tulips are ‘Early Harvest’ and the crocuses (below) are Crocus biflorus ‘Blue Pearl’.

Andrea reckons that the garden is about a month behind this year. It still looks pretty wintery, although the hellebores and daffs are looking lovely and euphorbias are adding touches of acid yellow. Tulips are peeping optimistically through the soil. It’s all happening, but slowly.

So in the meantime, let’s fast forward to June, when the garden will be taking part in the Chelsea Fringe.

Andrea wanted to do something people wouldn’t expect from a garden that’s in a very traditional and formal setting, so she’s come up with the idea of a dog show. She says that many head gardeners have dogs (Andrea has the lovely Boris, a cockerpoo) but that most gardens don’t allow dogs. So on 9 June the garden will be the most dog-friendly in London, with a dog show with categories such as ‘waggiest tail’ and ‘dog most like its owner’. There will also be a horticultural quiz, cake show and gardening agony aunts and uncles. Roll on summer…

Crocus 'Blue Pearl'

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Winter pots



I stopped by to see Andrea Brunsendorf, head gardener at the Inner Temple Garden the other day. Her display of pots is amazing in spring and summer, and in winter she keeps the display going with evergreens. Any pots that are filled with bare earth or planted with bulbs are covered with pieces of conifer. Andrea says this is common practice in Germany – it’s too cold for many types of winter bedding, so the conifer pieces make pots and window boxes look more attractive in the chillier months.

Andrea says that the conifer cover has the added advantage of keeping the Inner Temple’s cat out of the pots. It doesn’t fool squirrels, though…

Inner Temple Garden

If you’re feeling glum because the days are shortening, the temperatures are falling and everything is dying back, take yourself to the Inner Temple Garden without further ado. The High Border is still a riot of colour, and for a few glorious moments you can kid yourself that it’s still late summer.

The border contains many of the plants you’d expect in a late-season garden – grasses, dahlias, rudbeckias, asters, cosmos etc – but head gardener Andrea Brunsendorf puts them together in an original and adventurous way. She chooses varieties for their form, flower shape and colour, and thinks carefully about how they might complement other plants; the centre of one flower might complement the petals of another, for example. And she isn’t afraid to mix colours in combinations that more traditional gardeners would shy away from: orange, pink and red sit happily next to each other in the form of Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’, Dahlia coccinea ‘Mary Keen’ and a red rose (above), as do red roses, magenta dahlias, blue salvias, purple aconitums and yellow rudbeckias (below).

The border also looked pretty amazing when I visited the garden in May. At that time it was filled with alliums, aquilegias and oodles of tulips; oriental poppies then carried it through until June. Andrea admits that the border has a ‘June hole’ when she lifts the tulips and replaces some early flowerers with the tender late season plants such as dahlias. But for a border that powers on until the first frosts (which can be as late as December in central London), that’s a very small price to pay.

The Inner Temple Garden


I didn’t get many pics of the Inner Temple Garden as it started to rain (hooray) but I did grab a few of the pots that flank some steps near head gardener Andrea Brunsendorf’s office. Andrea uses this area as her ‘playground’ – it’s where she experiments with different varieties to see which ones will end up in the garden.

Above is a great mix of ‘William of Orange’ and ‘Willemsoord’ tulips, plus what I stupidly thought were a grass but are actually Crocus etruscus ‘Zwanenburg’. Below is the same crocus, mixed with Tulip ‘Zurel’. Andrea says she likes this tulip because it looks good even when the flowers haven’t opened.

The orangey tulip in the front of the combo below is ‘Adrem’. It can be found all over the garden this year and Andrea loves it because it flowers for ages. It’s peachy without being sickly and almost seems to glow. Elsewhere in the garden it’s teamed with the lipstick red tulip, ‘Ile de France’.

Hosepipe ban


Now here’s a sight many of us won’t be seeing for a while: a sprinkler gently watering a border.

I took this pic at the Inner Temple Garden the other day, where head gardener, Andrea Brunsendorf, was giving everywhere a soaking while she still could. Today, hosepipe bans kick in in many parts of the country, which means that sprinklers and hosepipes can no longer be used.

This is challenging for any gardener, but Andrea has three acres of garden to keep looking good. In fact, she’s not actually sure whether the gardens are covered by the ban or not. On the one hand, the gardens are commercial because they’re rented out for events and are open to the public – and so could qualify for an exemption. On the other hand they’re privately owned.

The gardens must be surrounded by some of the finest legal minds in the country, but no one seems to be able to give Andrea a definitive answer. So to be on the safe side she’s installing leaky pipes, which are permitted under the ban, and putting away the hoses. And, like gardeners everywhere, she’s keeping her fingers crossed for some rain.