Like many things aesthetic, gardening has always been influenced by fashion. From rock gardens, evergreens, decking, water features we have all been influenced by garden writers and television.
One famous gardener with tremendous influence was Vita Sackville-West. Her white garden at Sissinghurst has been a source of inspiration – 20 or 30 years ago white and silver plants were everywhere. Then came Christopher Lloyd’s exciting juxtaposition of colour at Great Dixter and we moved towards rich reds, purples, and even orange. Now I find myself appreciating white flowers again.
The Claire Austin rose which almost shimmers at dusk, the common white valerian and the group of white foxgloves have highlighted corners of the Dixter garden and helped to focus on more modest evergreens such as hebes.
A place where white flowers are really effective is the garden of Matty and Richard Holmes, in Udimore. Very sadly this was the last time they will open under the National Garden Scheme (NGS). We should really pay a tribute to this garden at Beauchamps, on Float Lane, which has opened for many years. The Holmes have been assistant county organisers for the NGS and have thereby contributed to the considerable amounts raised for various charities.
Back to the Beauchamps garden itself. Once again this year the standard of maintenance was immaculate – not easy as weeds do not escape the eagle eyes of visitors. Again, I was struck by how the touches of white lit up the borders. The simple to grow orlaya – seen here – peers above the foliage, ready to contrast with the ripening verbena. The magnificent dogwood contrasts beautifully with the geranium. These tableaux are repeated around the garden. I’m sure the many visitors to Beauchamps have fully appreciated the work and thought behind it. The plants generated through Matty’s skills are probably populating many of the gardens in Rye and and will carry on her years of good gardening work.
Photo: library image