21 September 2011

Ye Gods

Take a large Queen Anne house, in its own park. Add a paved forecourt by the side, with views over said park, designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe. Add 12 giant yew cones dotted around. Amongst the clipped geometry are four sharp squares of yew and in the centre of each, a classical god perching decorously on a plinth. Surrounded by white Iceberg roses and framed by the yew, the lead figures are something you would not be at all surprised to see, or even particularly notice, while passing by on the way to tea and cake.

BUT take away the roses and put in their place some long wavy grass: Calimogostis Karl Foerster. The scene is no longer half-dead and not nearly as respectable. The grasses wave about, they glint in the sunshine, and the gods seem to run through them. You suddenly notice that they are not from around here.

The calimogostis changes colour depending on the light, and it is just the right height above the yew, a couple of feet, to create a small picture of freedom and abandon around each god. Loose within, but rigid without. Because a couple of feet away from the grassy savannah is the half-wall of yew and the leaping about comes to an end.

At eight o'clock on a September morning the grass looks incredibly golden; a month earlier it was purple. It's not boring grass - it's a simple and clever way of making a very formal area come alive. The head gardener at Brooke Hall has had some nice things said about him in the gardening press, in the polite way that they have. But I say: he's bloody good.


  1. The HG is full of brilliant ideas; it's a shame that he's anonymous... Thanks for cheering!

  2. I love a good garden rebellion. Who needs more iceberg roses?

  3. One wouldn't want to tiptoe through them, let alone prance about with no clothes on.

  4. I love the way Calamagrostis changes over the seasons and it looks especially exciting in contrast to the yew that quite adamantly stays the same. What an imaginative head gardener allowing the un-inhibited grasses to prance about in front of the more stately hedges.
    It looks great.