An Adventurous Gardener

An Adventurous Gardener

What does it take to be an adventurous gardener? Now we have moved into the long warm days of high-summer my cottage borders are a riot of vibrant colour. Am I an adventurous gardener? I’m certainly breaking some accepted garden rules ! I can  think of one person who might have approved but also of another who might not !

Christopher Lloyd

I hope Christopher would have approved of my glorious jumble of mixed colours. The mix will get even better when the Asters, Dahlias, Gazanias and Rudbeckias are into their stride.

In his book ‘Colour for the Adventurous Gardener‘ (Published by the BBC)  Christopher was his usual unconventional and outspoken self;

‘He advocates knowing the rules of combining colours, so that you can break them! ‘Every colour in the garden has its place’ he claimed. He discusses the tenets of good taste and encourages gardeners to break away from them. ‘The limitations imposed by rules are a safe haven, but the adventurous gardener will want to try something different’ he says….If a colour is ‘polite’ he certainly knows how to liven it up without being vulgar.’

–  From the book’s  review

A cottage mix of pastel colour

Gertrude Jekyll,

Gertrude was another who was certainly an adventurous gardener when she broke away from the accepted formal style of her time a century ago. However, she was a renowned advocate of carefully themed designs for colour in the borders. She wrote:

‘The practice of good colour arrangement in the garden is full of delightful potential.. It cannot fail to be a source of abiding interest and unfailing inspiration.’

‘A Gardener’s Testament’  p 168

She might not have approved of my more spontaneous free style forced upon those like me with small modern gardens. We don’t have the space or money that she had to employ staff to implement her carefully prepared designs, beautiful though they were, and still are, in larger gardens and estates.

A Beth Chatto-style combination

But Gertrude might have liked this. I call it my ‘Beth Chatto’ combination – Stipa, Eryngium and Anthemis  E.C.Buxton  (One of Beth’s top 10 plants). She uses this group very successfully in her famous dry gravel garden in Essex.


Godetias stealing the show

These Godetias are stealing the show in my annual border. Seed- grown annuals are much overlooked these days. They used to be one of the mainstays of the old cottage gardens. They are due for a come-back.

Glorious 'Golden Oats' Stipa

Glorious Stipa gigantea (‘Golden Oats’), everyone’s favourite, is a must for any garden. A number of friends have bought one of these for themselves after seeing ours.

Outstanding Hydrangea 'Annabelle'

However, I hope even Gertrude Jekyll might have given the thumbs-up to this quiet, cool combination in my semi-shaded rear patio. The outstanding and totally reliable  Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ always has a ‘presence’ and attracts attention. In the evening this group glows in the fading light.

A cheerful mix at the front door

A delightful display, mainly of bedding annuals grown from seed, by our front door. It cheers every visitor. Even the delivery men comment.

Photo of a stately teazle

Who could  resist allowing such a stately ‘weed’, as this teasel, to establish itself here in the path brickwork. It seems to pair well with the tall yellow fennel beyond. Yes, weeds have a place in every garden. But even this one will have to go sometime soon when its moment of glory is over.

Wishing you happy and adventurous gardening.

6 thoughts on “An Adventurous Gardener

  1. I love the color in your garden, Richard! Even though Jekyll used color with care in her garden designs, she also was inspired by cottage gardens, so I feel sure she would love what you do. I certainly do!


    1. Thanks for the kind comment. Perhaps I was a bit unfair to Gertrude J. I’m glad you’re one of her fans too. We are all so grateful for her beautiful pioneering designs.


  2. Your colours are a joy, Richard. I grew up with Gotetia in abundance and have always loved their varied colours.


  3. I like your adventurous garden Richard, the colours are fabulous and it looks like a place you’d enjoy wandering around, with plenty to interest the eye. I’ve been growing some teasels from seed in pots in my yard this year to attract the goldfinches that live in the area – the leaves are growing well, but they aren’t yet mature so I’m hoping they will be before the summer is over.


    1. Thank you. I always enjoy walking around and among these lovely blooms. Those clustered at our front door in pots and tubs give such pleasure to us and others as we come and go. Well done with your teasels. There seem to be delightful goldfinches everywhere these days.

      Liked by 1 person

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