29 April 2011

Gardening Clichés 1(a)

Well-worn phrases are easy to ignore, as they can be blindingly obvious, and rather boring. Right plant for the right place might be the foundation for all garden knowledge but it’s more fun to experiment and put the right plant in the wrong place, until you get rid of it a year or two later.

Can brambles ever be the right plant? Yes, in a hedgerow or someone else’s field. But the decorative bramble… some people like them. They are worthwhile in late winter, their white stalks shooting upright, thorns shimmering in the frost. The really superior ones have good flowers. The deputy head gardener at Brooke Hall is trying hard to convince me: they are revered plants, she says, sometimes used in formal gardens. She also mentions that they are amongst the fastest growing plants, along with bindweed.

I spent part of yesterday and today cutting these good-looking brambles to the ground in the Wild Garden, and dug many of them out altogether where they reach out and threaten people on the footpath. I look in my encyclopaedia later and see that Rubus Cockburnianus holds an Award of Garden Merit and that ‘the flowers are followed by inedible fruit’. I will report back in January when everything else looks half dead and try to give it the benefit of the doubt. At any rate, it doesn't do any harm in this large semi-wild setting, if you don't mind being attacked when you walk past.

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