Towering Eucalyptus trees are better than a SatNav in finding the way to Meon Orchard, home of Doug and Linda Smith and their three National Plant Collections of Antipodean rarities; Araliaceae and Podocarpus as well as the aforementioned giants.
Sparsholt College is featuring these genera in their display at the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show and with little more than a month before the show opens, Doug had invited the students along to select suitable plants for the garden.
Students have been working in four teams on the different aspects of the garden; Plants, Construction, Water Feature and Graphics. Since the autumn they have been selecting and growing plants, designing and constructing the hard landscape items, creating the water feature and developing the leaflet and other display material needed for the stand.
Taking the dimensions from the plan, the relevant area was laid out on the lawn and pots were moved into place.
As they were laid out tutor Chris Bird talked them through the concepts of designing in 3 dimensional triangles, making sure that the garden looks good at all levels – remember the wheelchair view and the techniques such as chocking the pots to raise them to the same height.
As the design started to come together the students were told to ‘snake the Podocarpus through the gaps’ or put in ‘a canoodling of the yellow variant at the front’.
And so we go from ‘plonked’ plants to a layout which will work in the final design. Sight lines through to other parts of the garden, contrasting foliage combinations and interest at all levels.
The plants are putting on new growth, so will be different again by the end of May.
Then the challenge of recording the positioning of the plants so that the design can be recreated at the show.
What better way to spend a warm sunny early spring day?