Ubiquitous London design

hyde5Grey skies, passing showers, the din of some neighbour’s leaf blower ruining the peace of the afternoon.

Why, it’s like being on holiday.

My few days in London are so different from the farm.  The cool weather is rather marvellous. I have been in long sleeves and a cardigan every waking moment. Water falling out the sky is a fun thing to observe. Particularly as it is not accompanied by crashing thunder and power failures.

And having lovely guests visiting means we have been having great long walks in parks. You can see Robyn and Sylvia in the background.

hyde7These images are mainly from a walk we did from Green Park in London to Exhibition road.  And for me it was quite the down memory lane walk.

We used to live in Knightsbridge on campus. For five long years. It’s a strange old neighbourhood. Mainly because it was chock full of embassies, university students and tourists. And not many real people in between.  The only decent pub that wasn’t thronged with passing tourists was great: but it was closed on weekends as ‘everyone goes to their house in the country on Saturday and Sunday.’ Quite.

In the five years I can recall that I made two friends: first with the security guard in our building, and the other was the Burmese ambassador’s chef. I kept running into him while he staggered under the weight of the groceries from Harrods and he was way too frail to be hauling such goods. So after twice helping him (I was always in possession of a trolley) I spent the rest of the time keeping an eye out for him. And he for me.

The rest of the time I think was spent studying the planting schemes in Hyde Park.

And this particular garden bed use to fascinate me. It was that perfect creation of 1970s parks planting. Worthy, crammed, not very good. And just crying out for a makeover.

hydepark1I’ve had a rummage in my files and can’t find any of the before shots in this bed. But if you were walking through Hyde Park en route to the bridge at the end of the lake you wouldn’t have missed it.

I was just starting my self-taught obsession with learning how to create gardens and I used to imagine how I would make it better.

There were dwarf conifers, shrubs and lots of bergenias. All blockily planted and rather unsympathetic to each other in form and display.

hyde3Just as I was leaving Knightsbridge to move back (hurrah) to Primrose Hill they had ripped out the plants and left it bare.

And here is the current scheme.

All the usual suspects. Nicotiana, verbena bonariensis, salvias, some nice little columnar yews. Salvias. Fun and summery. I’m amazed they haven’t shoved ornamental grasses in there too. That would have made it fashionably complete.

IMG_8605And around Hampstead you can’t walk more than 20 metres without tripping over hydrangea Annabelle.

Boy is that a success. I’m even contemplating investing in them myself. Once I work out where to put the moisture loving beauties.

Plenty of moisture in a maritime climate.

IMG_8606I’m not sure I would combine them with formiums andd sedums and geraniums.

The sedums are just gorgeous!  The darker the colour the less happy they are in a cold climate. I’m going to keep trying them. I found a few small plants hiding in between the just cut down deutzia and a clump of miscanthus in the lilac bed.

IMG_8608And putting them with this geranium is rather pleasing. And the salvia.

Note to self. More colour in among my shrubs. Back to France tomorrow when I can attack my garden with renewed vigour.