The other morning we had a visit from a combined party of readers of Hortus and supporters of The Garden Museum. (I dare say most of them are both). Is there a better treat for a gardener than the company of like-minded, well-informed fellow-sufferers in his own garden?
It was an enthralling morning, because of course everybody sees something different, conversation goes off at all angles, and you end up absorbing far more information than you dispense. It was also a beautiful morning, mild and rose-scented, each plant full of promise and my most egregious mistakes still more or less in embryo so early in the season. The week before I had turned the hose on the climbing roses, which with nothing to drink were seemingly stuck in bud. Almost unanimously they responded. The rose of the moment, to my eye, was Madame Alfred Carrière (or Mad Alf, as one visitor called it) hanging heavy heads of pink-tinged white from the tops of Ilex kohneana, the noble ‘chestnut-leaved’ holly. Unless it was Scharlachglut, scarlet and gold, lunging out from twenty feet up in the glossy green of an incense cedar.
A minor player in the borders that won a surprising amount of admiration was the little Amsonia hubrichtia, a pool of pale blue stars beside the almost royal blue of a tradescantia, just across from the identical indigo of Baptisia australis and Clematis x durandii.
We shall be hearing much more of the Garden Museum. Christopher Woodward, the director, is steering it boldly out of its Lambeth backwater into the mainstream of modern gardening. Just now there is an excellent exhibition of Tom Stuart-Smith’s work. But his future plans include more exhibition space, building on to provide a possible London base for such bodies as The Garden History Society and/or The Association of County Gardens Trusts, and the essential task of building an archive of such primary material as designers records and plans.
Spring is in the air …….