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Turn your back to the house once again, and look to your left: this is the side of the garden that lies in the lee of a steeply-sloping bank, topped with a hedge, the lane meandering by on the other side a good ten feet or so above head height. The ‘lawn’ stretches back from here, but in front is a little seating area: no good for chilly autumn or spring, when you require the full force of the sun, but wonderful in summer, I suspect, where the shade will be a welcome respite from all those 40Β°-plus temperatures we’re supposed to be getting in a few years’ time.

I introduce you to….

The Pot-Pourri Garden

It’s not quite in full shade: the bit that wraps around to the garden path, to the right in this picture, actually gets sun for most of the day. It is for this reason that I’ve decided this should be the place for another long-held hankering of mine: a garden where all the plants can be used for pot-pourri. This idea may be fairly heftily modified in the coming months: it’s quite likely, for example, that apothecary’s rose (Rosa gallica var officinalis), a base ingredient for pot-pourri and one of my all-time favourite roses for its sumptuous, unforgettable scent, will not like my chalky soil here. But in the best gardening traditions I shall try, and probably err, until I get it right. At worst, I should end up with rather a nice scented garden: even nicer on those summer evenings.

For now, however, it is a sea of neglect: there has obviously at some stage in its dim and distant past been some love and attention, as there are some rather gorgeous things here such as a massive and beautiful clump of bronze rodgersia. But mostly, it’s just a sea of cranesbill: and not even interesting cranesbill but the rampant wild form, which although pretty is a little tedious in these quantities.

There are other self-seeding lovelies, though, like this Meconopsis cambrica: a slender, delicate, tissue-paper-thin poppy of just the perfect shade of yellow which I have always struggled to grow elsewhere, yet here is growing itself. Perfect.

And astrantias are clearly happy too: it’s just the common-or-garden kind rather than one of the more vividly-coloured selections, but nonetheless lovely for that.

And this rather handsome yellow-leaved shrub is glowing in the gloom: but I have no idea what it is. It’s 4-5ft tall and hasn’t done anything other than this, so far. I do like those deep purple stems, though. It is ringing a bell, I know I’ve seen it before somewhere and I probably ought to know its identity – but my poor overloaded mind is so far drawing a blank. Any ideas, anyone?

At the back is a fine variegated holly – it’s right next to the Ginkgo I mentioned in a previous rambling, and the contrast between the Ginkgo’s yellow autumn foliage and the yellow-and-green variegation of the holly is inspired. And it looks like we’ll have holly berries for Christmas for the first time ever this year.

But what of the bank? I hear you say. There must, surely, be a bank?

Ah yes, but it is a gentle one: horribly overgrown and scrubby, but very sheltered and rather nook-like. I am seeing daphnes, violets, wintersweet and other lovely things tumbling over each other on the way down.

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