Sep 282012
 

St Albans

I went back to my hometown of St Albans the other day and nearly fell off my bike when I saw this annual mix on a roundabout.

It would have made an impact if I’d been sailing past it in a car, but at close quarters it really was something. Cosmos, calendula, nigella, poppies, mallows and nicotiana were all doing their thing perfectly.

A notice next to the roundabout explains that St Albans Council has replaced some of its bedding schemes with annual seed mixes as they’re more sustainable, wildlife-friendly and (ahem) drought tolerant. The schemes have won two Anglia in Bloom awards recently.

If anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, the mixes have gone down well with the locals. My sister’s friend Nina likes the scheme in Clarence Park so much she wants to sow one in her own garden, and my friend Jo, not known for her plant knowledge, mentioned in passing that the roundabout by the Cricketers pub is looking different this year.

Meadow-style planting is certainly having a moment, thanks in part to the planting at the Olympic Park, and sales of ‘wild’ flowers are apparently at an all-time high. I really hope St Albans Council (and other councils around the country) continue planting annual mixes – they’ve got to be more exciting than boring old coleus and begonias.

Jul 082012
 

East Sussex

Merriments is the kind of garden that must throw American visitors into raptures – it’s so classically English. The immaculate lawns are bordered by flower beds that are stuffed to the gills with roses, foxgloves, poppies and pretty much everything else.

Top tip: visit on a Sunday lunchtime. That’s what we did, and had the gardens to ourselves while everyone was in the restaurant. And then visit the garden centre, and spend far too much on plants that you’ve just admired in the garden…