Following Robin Powell’s insightful question about whether there was anything at Longwood that was so authentic as to make me want to copy it (though she put it better than that), I thought I’d throw down a few pics of stuff that I loved at Longwood.
How about this very Keukenhof-ish mixed bulb planting (image above – check out my earlier post on Keukenhof here if you don’t know what I mean), primarily of the white/green artist tulip (which from memory is ‘Spring Green’), which also contained one of the tall green forms of Fritillaria persica, Narcissus poeticus and snowflakes? Sprinkled through it all were these lacy arched wands of pink bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis).
I had to take a close-up to show the bleeding heart, but it doesn’t illustrate just how lovely this hint of trailing pink was , here and there amongst the green and white. I love the idea of tickling a touch of perennial in amongst a bulb planting. It opens up a whole new world of combo-possibilities.
I’m always up for a bit of gratuitous retina scorching, and there was plenty at Longwood..
I’ve never bothered with the curious and (clearly only nearly) irresistible ‘black’ flowers of Queen of the Night tulips. The black and white combo often offered as a serving suggestion feels to me like one of those ideas that is best when it just stays as an idea. (see more on that here). But I really liked them used with purple at Longwood. Absolutely the best partnership I’ve seen them in.
Then there’s the partnerships of tulips and daffs. I never really think of them in the same sentence, but when their heights are carefully chosen..
There’s some nice stuff done with specimens of wisteria here, grown as non-climbers, and winding up with a bone-structure reminiscent of a japanese maple. Curiously when they’re treated that way, they eventually give up trying to climb, and put on very little extension growth.
I don’t know that any of those single ideas really address Robin’s question. I’m sure she was thinking about big ideas – big design ideas. The one I’d really take home with me if I could would be a few acres of deciduous woodland, with canopy carefully lifted and de-cluttered in order to celebrate the ground-covering wildflowers ie
That’s redbud overhead (Cercis canadensis), with Phlox stolonifera (the purple) and Tiarella (the white) beneath. Here’s a carpet close-up
In amongst them grew one of the most appealing, and appealingly named, of all US wildflowers – the wake robin (Trillium grandiflorum)
Along with its cousin, the yellow trillium (Trillium luteum)
Theres certainly stuff I’d take home with me, Robin. As long as I could make it look right in my rather different setting.