Rockeries, nutteries and fripperies

William Robinson had some nice things to say in 1867 about alpine plants planted near the Ice House at Kew Gardens. It is, he said, now looking better than any rockery I have seen this season. Somewhat muted praise you might think but the author of Alpine Flowers for English Gardens was one of the first to promote planting alpines among rocks and did quite a bit of it himself.

Everyone does it now of course. I've posted a few times on the collections in Kew's Davies Alpine House. Today I want to feature the alpine collections at RHS Garden Wisley, show you the nuttery at Sissinghurst Castle and finish with a frippery - the reclaiming of one of William Robinson's garden creations at Gravetye Manor.

Wisley was a little between seasons when we visited on the weekend, much like Kew, but still impressive as always. Sparkling at the moment were the alpine and other plants growing in the Alpine Display Houses and associated rockeries. Here are a few examples to add to the picture at the top of this post.

Last weekend also included my first visit (with Kris Jarantoski from Chicago Botanic Garden and Lynda) to Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Devon. While it too was gearing up for the late spring and summer herbaceous borders, there were couple of gems. The most impressive - stopping us in our tracks - was the wonderfully named Nuttery. Under coppiced hazelnuts this is what we saw.

I can't resist a picture from the Sissinghurst Lime Walk as well. The tulips, fritillarias, Erythronium and lots of other bulbs were in stark contrast to the muted Nuttery ground covers but very, very cheery!

Finally a frippery. This may be a bit harsh but think of finery rather than frivery (if there is such a word). Gravetye Manor is now a very exclusive hotel and you feel a little like an intruder wandering through its garden - in fact I'm still not quite sure whether we were or not.

The original garden was designed and created in 1884 by our alpine and rockery man, William Robinson. Robinson was all about letting nature into the garden, fighting back the fashion for carpet bedding and topiary. This particular garden has fallen into disrepair at various times since then but I gather that under Head Gardener Tom Coward's care it is becoming something Robinson might have hoped for more than a century later.

Here are a couple of pictures that don't quite do it justice (the overcast day didn't help) but it was very picturesque and very naturalistic...


Lewis Acott said…
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