Narnia: A good book and a beautiful border

The Chronicles of Narnia was one of the books of my childhood, it’s a classic and I hope it’s regarded in the same way for children today. The most classic, or the classic-ist of the series, surely has to be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and so there had to be a wardrobe in this Beautiful Border at Gardeners’ World Live last year. And thankfully there was.

The chronicles of narnia at Gardeners' World Live.jpg
There had to be a wardrobe in this beautiful border

It turned out to be a smart move as complete with mirrors, false perspective trellis, vertical bedded walls and the top it provided a lot more space and height than many of the other borders at the show. Of course the ice queen and her surroundings are comprised of the white, silver and blue plants, cool enough to make you shiver.

planting in the beautiful border at GWL.jpg
It's Narnia not Oz

It was a border that was packed, and packed with plenty of my favourite plants. These white astrantias and as I walked further around the border - and not through the wardrobe - the much warmer colours of the red hot pokers and gazanias.

Astrantias in the Chronicles of Narnia beautiful border

The garden was designed by Derby College and sponsored by the Derby Branch of the MS Society, and was clearly popular with everyone who clamoured around it to see more, to experience the Narnia-factor for themselves.

Driftwood and thistles
A spot of colour too with striped gazanias
And my favourites red hot pokers

Stepping back the garden just worked, it transported any of us that knew the story but also worked for those only just discovering Narnia. The bigger picture only worked though, as in life, by ensuring the detail was correct too.

Taking a step back to admire narnia at GWL18
And a look at the detail too

The slate on its slide representing a stream of trickling water, and as ever with these borders it makes use of plants that are easily accessible: hostas, roses, lobelia and I think I can spy some alyssum in the photo below too.

Roses and lobelia

Isn’t it great? And doesn’t it make you want to re-read the books?

White and shade, peace and elegance

According to the information alongside this Beautiful Border at Gardeners’ World Live earlier this year, the inspiration for this space came from “the many shady spots that occur in gardens, which can be hard to make look attractive.”

It aims, and I think manages, to take a part of the garden that’s often neglected and unloved and make it lovely and stylish too. It’s simoke colour scheme of green and white, gorgeous tiles and my firm favourite ferns helps create a “magical shady border that really captures the dramatic effect of white and shade.”

fronds of fern and patterned tiles at gardeners' world live
hostas and yellow-y greens spilling over patterned tiles
spot the tile amongst the greenery

It’s also pretty good to look at isn’t it?  I’m imagining a tranquil, urban city space that’s a haven to escape the busyness of life. In reality, this was planted in a small(ish) raised bed outside the NEC in Birmingham, where it rained during our visit - that paints quite a different picture doesn’t it, and if you don’t mind I’m happy sticking with my vision over reality this time round.

What about you?

Our space in space

When I saw this at Gardeners' World Live I hadn't fully appreciated the concept as I have a terrible habit of taking a snap of the bumph alongside things to read later, simply enjoying the garden (or whatever) for what it is on face value at the time.  Not always a bad thing, as how often are we 'told' to live in the moment, but sometimes (and for me often afterwards) you realise the intentions had a much deeper meaning and purpose, and this Beautiful Border is one of them.

phormiums in pebbles

On the face of it, it's a pretty space and totally worthy of its inclusion in this part of the show, but at the time I couldn't help but notice its starkness, and stripes in comparison to the other beds.  I did spot the blue tardis though.

contrasting colours of yellow and green plants against the grey pebbles

And I really enjoyed the almost lime green succulent 'balls' around the green phormium and against the grey pebbles. Striking aren't they?

A close-up of a brightly coloured succulent or two

What I hadn't realised was the greater significance of the blue dot - or tardis - and the connection to the photos taken from Voyager on 14 February 1990.

Look again at that dot.  That's here.  That's home.  That's us.

- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A vision of the Human Future in Space

red and burgundy plants against the pebbles

Which in my book makes it a very clever - and bold - garden, which clearly works on a number of levels. And who knew that a garden could be so deep? And educative?  Certainly not me, but I'm glad it has.  Talk about inspiring. 

striking reds of the plants against the grey pebbles

But not only on that deeper level, but also on the planting.  Just look at the succulent, and what looks to be a coleus and a heuchera with its lettuce-like leaves against the dark pebbles.  It's certainly striking, that's for sure...