‘The challenge of making small gardens and using natives whenever possible’

This was the topic of Laura de Beden’s lecture at the Surrey group February meeting and she started by showing us some of her inspirations; the natural landscape in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, the structure in a scene of volcanoes ascending to the sky in Chile and the boldness of a field of poppies.

Nuggets of wisdom from the talk:

Plants have a will to live but will not thrive in the wrong place and so Laura recommended the RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants as a start point for checking what will work in your garden.

There are two types of gardeners;  Collectors of plants and Creators of beautiful gardens and Laura has never seen a beautiful plantsperson’s garden.

Garden Centres are crafty – they make arty displays, we buy the plants but have nowhere to put them so we start plonking – we are all guilty at times of being plonkers.

So by now everyone was wide awake and enjoying Laura’s delightful delivery and inspiring photographs.

Images of Stourhead with the lake, temple and trees planted by people who never got to see them in their full glory.

In the words of Pope ‘let Nature never be forgot’.  First follow Nature and then ‘consult the genius of the place’.  Even in a tiny garden there is the right place for everything.

Consider the space – what do you want to do?
What do you want to experience?
Then go and buy your plants, appropriate to site and place because you have already done your homework.

The colour silver is a ‘joker’; it soothes hot colours and revives pastels.

Laura is a great fan of Tom Stuart Smith and recommends going to see his garden which is open through the NGS scheme.  She also admires Beth Chatto, the Grande Dame of English Horticulture, who taught us how to understand plants and started looking at grouping plants for dry, damp and shade.

Her favourite plants are geraniums, but she also loves Euphorbia, ferns and grasses.  She beautifully described Verbena bonariensis as ‘having generosity’.

Some ‘before and after’ photographs can be seen on her website and had the audience drooling and working out how to avoid being plonkers.  If you get a chance to hear Laura, grab it;  you won’t regret it.

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