Gardeners World Live

My garden is a nursery at the moment. The terrace is awash with pots and we all tip toe round them to get into the garden. I am like a mother hen clucking away checking on their growth, willing some to start showing signs of flowers and despairing that others have flowered and gone to seed. The bees are having a field day – as if the plants in the garden weren’t enough!!

What is this all in aid of?  I here you cry. Why is she not just putting them in the ground. Well this is a very good question and one I will answer.

I am exhibiting a Beautiful Border at BBC Gardeners World Live 13-16th June. 

A Resilient Garden in a Changing Climate has never seemed so apposite after another very dry spring, in the South East of the UK at any rate. The overall theme for the borders is ‘Our Space’ which the designer can interpret how they wish. My 6 x 1.5m plot is to show case the need to harvest water. How it is, and will become, more and more imperative for us all to collect rain water.

Original concept drawing

The border highlights beautiful plants that thrive in both damp and dry conditions. The weather has become more unpredictable and although very dry springs seem to be the norm now, we can still experience very sudden and overpowering wet weather events. When this happens, or indeed whenever it rains, it is good to have a way of collecting this precious resource. With an elegant water butt planter as its apex the border is a garden in microcosm. Plants that enjoy wet or damp conditions at one side of the water butt with plants that progressively like dryer conditions to the other end.

Plants that like damp or boggy conditions are a brilliant way to help stop water run-off when there is a sudden heavy downpour. I am using ferns, Matteuccia strutheropteris and Osmunda regalis, alongside Primula beesiana and bulleyana. Luzula nivea, a lovely sedge, also likes damp conditions and has the added benefit of beautiful white flowers in June and July. 

At the dry end of the border pride of place goes to two of my favourite plants – Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’, purple Fennel, and Rosmarinus prostratus – the prostrate form of Rosemary. I have one of these in the small border on the terrace. It hangs elegantly over the wall and thrives in a dry and very poor soil. In the spring when it flowers it is a haven for pollinators and, of course, is always being picked for cooking. Achillea Credo will bring a beautiful pale yellow to this end of the border with, a late substitute, the gorgeous purple spikes of Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’.

The border will be beautiful. Filled with plants that flower mid-June and onwards and are loved by wildlife but most importantly imparts the message that we need to think anew about what we plant in our gardens. In summer, plants can cool the air by 2-4 degrees but they need water to do that. We can choose plants that survive and often thrive in very dry and poor soil but if we need to water the garden better that is collected rain water rather than the precious stuff that comes out of the tap. Collect when it is wet so we can water when it is dry. Even the smallest garden can collect water to sustain it and my Beautiful Border at Gardeners World Live will endeavour to inspire visitors to assess how they may be able to harvest water for their own gardens. I think this is a very uplifting message.

10 thoughts on “Gardeners World Live”

      1. Are the seedlings as bronze, or do they revert to green? I still prefer the green sort. It is how I remember it when it grew wild.


  1. Hi Tony. Yes it is bronze fennel.
    Hi Tessa. Looks amazing. Good luck with that border.
    Julie and I are off to Venice for a break tomorrow.
    Talking about saving rainwater; Venice was built and still stands on, wooden pilings driven into mud-flats in a brackish lagoon.
    There were no natural springs for fresh water, so all the houses and communal squares had gutters and conduits to fill underground cisterns with rainwater, without which the Venetians could not survive. They not only survived but became a hugely powerful seafaring City-state that lasted for a thousand years or more. The well-heads are still there to see, but this ancient and ingenious system is long-gone.

    Have a great Gardener’s world show.



    1. Thanks Nick. A little apprehensive that I will have anything flowering in 10 days time.
      Have a wonderful time in Venice. I adore the city. My sister is coming back to help me with GWL having spent the last 6 months there. When you get back we will have that chat.


  2. Hi, your exhibit border is simply fabulous! Where did you source the water butt? We thought it was granite until we tapped it!


    1. Hi Diana
      Thank you for your kind words. The Water butt is fantastic isn’t it. The company is Unfortunate they are only lending it to me for the show or it would be going home with me😉
      All the best


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