White flowers on handkerchief trees fluttered over half the show gardens. but they don't photograph well, especially when you're hanging over a barrier snaking your camera around a dozen other gawkers. So here is Diamond Frost Euphorbia (aka Wolf's Milk!) and a pretty white shredded campanula instead. Icy white petals; a touch of coolness in June. Takeaway one: frosted, shredded, fluttering whites.
Sticking with the cool colours, meet the absolute belle of the floral tent. It was no-where to be seen in the show-gardens, but you can tell when you've got the plant because people keep stopping you to ask what it is/where you got it/congratulate you on getting it before it sold out (this happened within the space of a half-hour wander). Here the delicate ice-blue flowers of Hydrangea Quercifolia Snowflake (NOTE: a) you'll have to tweak your PH and b) this particular var., Fireworks Blue, may be distinct to the nursery) are set off to perfection by a slightly bronzed var. of Astilbe Drum and Bass. Takeaway two: floof and sparkles in dense pastel colours.
Sticking with Hydrangeas, see below for Curly Sparkle Hot Pink, which appears to be channelling savoy cabbage. Hydrangeas are sometimes called cabbages as an insult, but here I mean it politely; this looks like the sort of cabbage you'd find in an award winning gastropub next to as tasting rack of artisanal gins. Alongside it, Plantago Purple Perversion, a showstopping version of the driveway weed. Apparently it both comes true from seed and seeds as freely as its wild cousin,so if you want it, you'll be able to get it. Takeaway three: colourful kinks, rahs and ruffles.
Cooling things down a bit, there were a lot of deliciously variegated shady ladies on show (inside, outside they would have cooked). There's a lot of excitement about the copper, pink and orange heucheras at the moment, but I was drawn to the cool greens of Diamond Splash (below) which I think is a var. of Dewdrops with bigger leaves and pinker flowers. Podophyllum Spotty Dotty was on a few stands and displays, looking stunning. Takeaway four: cool green variegated sparkles and dapples.
Show gardens at GWL are a lot smaller than other shows, partly to put them in the achievable zone for us urban gardeners of limited means, but also to show the potentials of small spaces. Here we have a narrow rill made of copper so fresh it looks like rose gold and a decorative cat-sized "path" made of that 70s playground favourite, chipped glass. One's been softened with a naturalistic tumble of wildish planting, the other pimped up with a classic one-colour border, and both look fabulous. The necessary items may be freely obtained from your favourite online reseller, installed with the help of three Pinterest tutorials, and straight onto your Instagram, boom. They won't last, but that means you can sweep it all up in Autumn and put in something new. Takeaway four: pimped up paths and rills in crazy colours.
Keeping it hot and bright, there were some wonderful tropical brights on display. Clivia is your signature plant here, and its hot oranges and popping greens kept on flashing up in the corners of the stands. Houseplants that go outdoors; brief tropical flashes in our newly hot summers. Green flowers, black flowers, Cannas, Lillies, underplanted with frills of orange geum, yellow epimedium. Hoyland have sold out of Clivias (I helped with that, see bottom right for a loot shot) but the look is cheap and easy; acid brights are often available from your local supermarket. Takeaway five: the conservatory has invaded the garden.
Time to cool down with some delicate danglies, earring-like, jewellery plants, small and pretty in semi-precious pale shades. Down below we have Corydalis China Blue, Phygelius Moonraker, Foxglove Lutea and pretty little Dicentra Formosa Aurora. These will all mound monstrously, creating huge brushstrokes of barely-there colour, and were well represented in the border displays. Takeaway six: drop-pearl perennials in hint-of-a-tint shades.
Gemma (the Pelargonium, below) was sold out. The other thing was nameless, in a show garden, and I didn't get a list. But that's the point of bedding. You don't go looking for it thinking, hmmm, I think I'll get some variegated dwarf daisies in burgundy and white today! It's see what looks good and take it home, schemeless gardening. I love the the sport varieties, the allsorts; the mutants and the accidents. Takeaway seven: mutaciously flakey bedding with bright sport colors.
Although you don't have to get varietal to get the colour popping. Psychedelic colour-pops also come in species varieties, bee-friendly and eye-wateringly bright. You don't even have to use many plants, although that was certainly the case for the 50 Years of Colour Border (top right); but the brightest, boldest combination I saw all day was in the plant village where someone had stacked Ladybird Poppies over Sea Holly. You can even do it on a single plant (see bottom right, and provide me with an identification if you can). Takeaway Eight: is a marvellous magical multicoloured mind-blowing bee buffet.
We loved this garden. Everyone loved this garden. But I'm stepping over the fancy walls and lovely, insect-friendly features and delicate, frothy planting to make a beeline for the moss paintings. We've all drooled over green walls and sadly concluded that outside of the contemporary hi-tech millionaire residence, it's not going to happen. But a lift-on, lift-off living garden picture? Now you're talking. Expect them in IKEA next year, with a clever pour-in watering system, safe plastic backing, and a selection of plants in the frame, because moss is lovely, yes, but vulnerable to browning. Maybe a nice tough begonia with a flashy leaf like Rocheart (below right). Takeaway nine: living paintings in a self-watering frame.
How to choose for the final takeaway? We spent a quantity of time questing for ferns, marvelling over Maples (so many maples!), I bought a run of unusual seeds from Pennards (this time fancy Broad Beans, as they grow happily in my garden) and discovered Encliandra Fuchsias, which have incredibly tiny flowers and absurdly adorable names. But for the final takeaway, I'm going to go 100% unapologetic hipster. It's surely another 80s revival item; don't I remember a ?dead airplant in a seashell filed next to my pet rock, pet log and gonk? Anyway, the return of the airplant (these are from Craftyplants) has been triumphant. You can keep an airplant anywhere, college room to coffin flat. It doesn't need space and if it gets knocked around by the cat a bit, neither plant not cat will suffer. You can primp and fuss them, and they might flower for you, but equally you can just pop it in a mug of water every now and then, and it'll still look good. The 21st Century airplant comes in a variety of exotic spikey and tentacular shapes, and accessorises well with a fancy concrete geometric planter, but that one on the bottom right, I went old-skool and popped it in a seashell. Still looked good! Takeaway ten: airplants, not just for when pot plants are too much effort and your lifestyle precludes gardening, but certainly helpful under those circumstances.
A few more photos from the day here.