To Kew to see how the Broad Walk borders – all 2000 feet of them – are coming on towards the end of their first season. Wonderfully is the short answer. It wasn’t the ideal day to go; promenaders were very few; it was 91 old-fashioned degrees in the shade – of which, of course, there was precious little. A parasol-seller would have done good business.
The borders do have a relatively shady end, the one nearest the Palm House and the Victoria Gate. Big trees provide a reason to plant less light-loving plants, from ferns and hellebores and epimediums to lilies and (the stars of the season in so many places) Japanese anemones. The beds are based on eight huge circles, each dedicated to a theme, usually a plant family. In each circle a yew pyramid forms a focal point – and points you to a clever illustrated key to the planting. Grasses are used (but not overused) here and there throughout; the bright gold tassels of Miscanthus nepalensis were one of the highlights.
The Orangery end is as sunny as can be; penstemons and crocosmias were firing it up, while the bed dedicated to the daisy family, the Compositae, was a banquet of heleniums, asters, rudbeckias, heliopsis, helianthemum and all things that have sun in their name. Along the whole thousand foot length colours have been mixed masterfully in long satisfying sweeps. It is plantsmanly, it is painterly; in short it is a triumph