Purple Wellies

One woman's musings of plant lust for intoxicating blooms

Seeking Solace from the New Horizon

As the last leaves fall, Woking’s towers are becoming ever prominent from far and wide. Whether you are in-favour or opposed to these urban complexes, many of us will endure the view of high-rise living from our gardens, whilst feeling their once tranquil garden space is losing its seclusion. With the reality of a further developed skyline we could hope for something as stunning as The Bosco Verticale in Milan or The Supertree Grove in Singapore, but I’m sure we will be left with unfulfilled biophilic tendencies from the developments.

High-up on many of my clients’ recent wish lists is the desire to create privacy, be less overlooked and screen out other buildings. In densely populated areas total privacy, is increasingly harder to achieve. Raising boundary heights brings increased shade. Better instead to opt for an area of privacy for seating or dining where you feel you can relax, without screening the entire garden. This could be achieved with a pergola cloaked in a climber, an enclosed seating area or plump for a modern approach of a grid of 4 ‘umbrella trees’ such as Parrotia persica. The lateral branches are tied into and trained horizontally across a framework of bamboo canes. It’s essentially a tree with a very flat canopy, only casting light shade and is very effective when viewed from a higher vantage point at creating privacy for its occupants.

If privacy isn’t such an issue for you, but you’d rather not see the towers then you might think the obvious thing would be to plant a tree to screen it. The mistake most make is to plant an all singing, all dancing subject to block what you are trying to hide. This will in fact attract more attention. Try planting instead, an evergreen, conical tree like Prunus lusitanica ‘Myrtifolia’ or Ilex ‘Nellie R. Stevens’. Both are good to look at, but neither with jaw-dropping beauty, and deliberately so. Your star needs to be positioned away from the towers, possibly in the centre of the garden, creating a new inward facing focal point. This could be Cornus kousa ‘Angyo Dwarf’, Amelanchier rotundifolia ‘Helvetica’ or Euonymus alatus var. ciliatodentatus, all petite in size, with multiple seasons of interest and fitting the bill perfectly. Hopefully for those that need it, this gives you some ideas to plan and instigate over the winter months.

In the run up to Christmas, you may encounter another dilemma of ‘what to get that someone that has everything’. How about a ‘living’ gift? Options could include Rhododendron ‘Praecox’, one of the first to bloom (January to March), or Ranunculus calandrinioides, an alpine for the front of a sunny border. This plant flowers November through February and is dormant during the summer when it likes to be kept on the dry side. Helleborus 'Verboom Beauty' would make a great gift too, with the bonus that this could be grown inside for the chance of it flowering on Christmas Day before acclimatising it to the outdoors.
Posted: 08/11/2018 16:03:01 by Pamela Barden