Now for the one bit of my garden that is undeniably Very Sunny Indeed. It is on the south-facing side, there are, for once, no trees shading it, no house in the way, no high banks blocking out the sun. It isn’t even concreted over. For this reason it is, the garden plan in my head dictates:
The Tropical Garden
(you are allowed to laugh)
Turn your back to the house, look a little over to your right, and you will see to one side of the path (the sunny side, natch) a flat bit. This is remarkable in itself as it is the only flat bit in the whole garden (apart from a concreted-over bit behind it, just visible to the left of the picture, which is where my garden office is going to go so that I can look out over this bit of the garden whenever I tire of my computer screen, which will be often).
It measures around 25ft x 40ft: not enormous, but quite big enough to house a selection of exotic and exotic-looking plants. I have for a long time nursed a secret hankering for a tropical edibles garden and this is going to be it.
At the moment my tropical edibles collection includes a big (and splitting) pot of yacon and a fig tree. Not very impressive, really. I hope to add ginger (Zingiber, proper ginger, not Hedychium – although I have two of those too which will no doubt go in there somewhere), some taro roots (Colocasia esculenta to you botanical types), edible passion fruits, kiwi vines, some acocha and a few bananas just for fun. The idea is that it will eventually be the kind of jungly mass of shoots, leaves and, no doubt, eats to pluck romantically from the vine as you waft through its sunshiny shade.
But all that is in the future: here, unfortunately, is it in its current unadorned state.
There is – of course! this is my garden! – a bank. A particularly steep, in fact nearly vertical bank at that. However: ever one to pluck opportunity from the teeth of a bloody ridiculous situation, I am getting quietly quite excited about this particular bank. I see vertical planting a go-go: beans tumbling down from soil pockets near the top, dangling their purple pods among clambering vines of kiwi, passion fruit and acocha…. now all I have to figure out is how to a) support the ones I’m not actually going to plant into the bank, and b) get the bank’s current occupants – mainly stinging nettles and harts-tongue ferns – under control.
The emergency pond lives here, right at the front bit where it curves round to the house. I call it the emergency pond as Mango, who you can just about see under those iris leaves, only just survived the house move: poor old Peanut floated to the top of the rather inadequate fishtank they were living in while we got around to digging holes for ponds (not, admittedly, top of our to-do list on the day after the removal men left). After that and with the anguished wailing of small children echoing in our ears, the fishpond was in within two hours. And very nice it looks: I’m hoping the taro will drape rather elegantly over the edge of it in times to come.
There is a nod at planting: a slightly dislocated herb garden of mint, lavender, rosemary and sage all looking very healthy, if a little without context.
And a splash of colour from bedding. Flowering! In November!
The real splash of colour at the moment, though, is from this viburnum: I’m thinking x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ as it has the most incredible burnished bronze-purple autumn foliage.
And last but not least: some absolutely giant sunflowers. They must be (and I am not boasting here as I had nothing to do with growing them) 12ft tall. It bodes well for the fertility of the soil that they can pull this off in supposedly thin chalk: in fact I think sunflowers, being edible in both seed and seedling stages, definitely qualify for the tropical look.