Despite the fact that we haven’t really seen a proper Winter here at Chartwell yet, the new Winter Border has already had plenty of highlights throughout the Autumn and Winter months of 2011. In my last post I talked about how the new border was created. This time I’ll tell you about some of the plants that I have chosen for the area and how they have faired.
Just choosing plants that look good during the ‘off-season’ months of Autumn, Winter and early Spring was not possible for our particular Winter Border. Firstly there were the physical properties of the site that influenced the selections. The border is north-facing and experiences a great deal of shade, especially at the back of the border, for long periods of time. This meant that only shade-loving or shade-tolerant plants could be confidently planted here. The gardens at Chartwell also experience very harsh Winters with low temperatures and regular frost and snow, although not yet this year obviously! Only hardy plants would therefore be suitable. An RHS soil test told us that the soil in the border ranged between neutral (pH 7 or there abouts) and slightly acidic. Calcicoles (ie plants that do not tolerate acidic conditions) would probably not thrive here either. The colour scheme throughout the gardens at Chartwell is influenced by the choices made by Sir Winston, and more commonly his wife Clementine Churchill. She preferred soft shades such as pinks and whites. You won’t find many hot colours here and that goes for the Winter Border too. I decided to use plants which displayed white, pink or pale yellow wherever possible. It was also felt that reds, which are very common in many Winter gardens, might get lost against the red brick wall behind.
A wide range of shrubs such as Skimmia japonica ‘Kew White’, small trees such as Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Barmstedt Gold’, herbaceous perennials like Aster pilosus var. demotus, bulbs such as Sternbergia lutea, climbers like Clematis cirrhosa var. ‘Balaerica’ and ground cover plants such as Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’ were eventually chosen. At the last count there were over 80 different plant species in our new Autumn/Winter Border. Below are pictures of just a few of the highlights so far. Hopefully you will spot one of your favourites the next time you come and visit us…