THE FRONT GARDEN
Planting 2 Cottage abundance for a shady bed
1 Bellis 'Dresden China' (double daisy) 2 Myosotis seedlings (forget-me-not) 3 Brunnera macrophylla 'Variegata , 4 Ranunculus ficaria 'Anemone flowered' 5 Rumex sanguineus 'Sanguineus' (bloody dock) 6 Dicentra formosa 'Alba' (Dutchman's breeches) 7 Meconopsis cambrica orange form (Welsh poppy) 8 Mandragora officinalis (mandrake) 9 Tiarella grandiflora 10 Lunaria annua (honesty) 11 Corydalis lutea 12 Euphorbia characias 13 Galeobdolon argentatum 14 Crocus 'Snow Bunting'
Introduction David Bromley, an obsessive gardener and plantsman, still has room in his ravishing Shropshire garden for the weedy and the self-sown. This early summer mixture of honesty, forget-me-nots, and Welsh poppies is combined with some grander plants - mandrake, brunnera, and white Dutchman's breeches - to make a delightful, sophisticated and long-Iasting planting. If the plants of the bloody dock are well fed, they produce some splendid foliage for cutting.
Developments and the seasons Everything here flowers fairly early in the season, but for an even earlier start you could add some double snowdrops, even rare ones like the double yellowish 'Lady Elphinstone'. Later on in summer, the daisy will still be flowering, and you'll have lovely seed pods from the honesty. The flowers of the mandrake are sinister; the seed pods grand.
Site This planting requires dampish shade, with only a little direct sunlight.
Maintenance and cost Only the brunnera will cost much; the rest, bar the daisy and the dicentra, will do as seed, and will seed themselves around prettily thereafter. The daisy needs an occasional spray against greenfly.
Props and additions Though some of the plants are grand, the general effect of the planting is of cottage abundance. Any additions could usefully augment the same idea, for example an old earthenware pot could be filled with a striking fern like Dryopteris cristata or with variegated ginger mint.
Substitutions The sharp pink of the daisy is important; the only other daisy of similar shape is 'Alice', though packet seedlings might produce something suitable. The variegation of the brunnera gives another good colour accent, as well as nice early blue flowers. The creamy white dicentra could be substituted by rarities like the lovely yellow Corydalis cheilanth ifolia, with its wonderfully cut foliage (it runs less badly, flowers most of the summer and it seeds itself well in locations like this), or perhaps a white Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart).
Ideas for its use This planting is much deeper than the photograph suggests, and would make a charming bed on either side of a slightly wider brick path to a suitably cottage-like house. It would also make a charming underplanting beneath gnarled rose bushes or lightly shading, deep-rooted trees.
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