For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been out and about exploring some of the amazing walled gardens in North Norfolk for a magazine feature. Above is a dahlia display at Blickling. I love walled gardens because I always think I can learn something from them. Huge, open landscaped country gardens are stunning, of course, but the massive scale and beauty doesn’t have much relevance to my own slightly messy plot. I love the way that walled gardens are divided up into manageable sections, and combine beauty with practicality so that I just know that I’ll come away having learnt loads about colour combinations, veg raising, and seasonal planting.
This section of the garden at Blickling has been planted to resemble the flag of India. I’m not going to be doing that but I will be buying some of the glorious painted sage in the foreground to add to my borders. I just love the ombre purple sweeping up the stems. And I think I’ll combine it with some orange marigolds. I know they’re simple to grow from seed, and that colour combo just sings out.
This border was bursting with dahlias, and they knocked my socks off. Last year, I built a tiny raised bed using some old pieces of wood that were knocking around the garden. I filled it with dahlias (I cheated and bought ready raised ones from Morrisons) and got my own mini version of this. The beauty is that they came up again this year and created a second show.
My DIY dahlia bed
The plants soon filled out and I created my own little cutting patch for a few pounds.
I noticed that the expert gardeners also use those easy annuals, cosmos, to create colour at this time of year. At Holkham Hall, I loved this combination.
Gorgeous patterns, shapes and colours, and easy to replicate at home. Cosmos can be sown from seed in early summer, or you can buy ready grown plants at most garden centres. The flowers just keep coming until the first frosts if you make sure that you deadhead them regularly.
Holkham Hall, near Wells-next-the-sea, is a lovely place to roam. It’s a vast walled garden, spreading over six acres. Some of it is still a work in progress, but I like seeing things that aren’t yet perfect. Here, I loved the pink sedums planted with grasses. Another idea that I can adapt on a small scale. Grasses are wonderful, too, because they come into their own in the winter when the white frost turns them into delicate sculptures.
These seedheads against the wall also caught my eye. They prove that you don’t have to super-tidy to make an amazing garden. That’s always welcome news to me 🙂
In this lovely deep bed, I was eyeing up the tall, spindly verbena bonariensis at the top left hand side, and those striking echinacea in the middle, with their golden centres and elegantly droopy pinky purple petals. Both are lovely for giving height to a border, and with colours like that in mid-September, you can’t go wrong.
Here’s my inspo board of favourites:
If I manage to inject even a fraction of those amazing shades into my own borders, I’ll be a very happy gardener!