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?

Airplants, wonder plants

These plants are fascinating. They’re from South America and named because they use their short, wiry roots to attach themselves to branches, cliff-faces and pretty much anywhere rather than rooting in soil.

They have requirements for air, light, water and warmth and benefit from brighter conditions, rainfall and humidity, so they’ll have thrived this summer in the UK. I saw these, and was fascinated by them at Gardeners’ World Live in Birmingham this year.

And just because they don’t grow in soil, doesn’t mean they aren’t pretty. I mean, just look at these:

vibrant colours, a pink you wouldn't believe
oranges and wispy white airplants

I wasn’t expecting such vibrant colours either. The sort of plants that I expected were more like this, but even these have a tinge of pink, which change colour in bright light.

Growing on rocks

But what was even more fascinating was the baskets of air plants ready to be bought. They have an almost water-plant quality to them don’t they?

choose your own air plants at gardeners' world live

And there’s definitely a hint of spider plant babies to them too isn’t there?

One thing that’s struck me as I’m typing this post is how I’m describing the plants: water-like, spider-like, but I hope you can see what I mean. Often air plants are grown on logs, and this was an option in Birmingham, as well as some clear glass tubes which gave them a more modern feel.

air plants growing logs
vibrant red airplants

But be warned, air plants grow, flower, set seed and die - so if you want a long lasting display, it’s worth cultivating your own from the offsets - and then you’ll be in the same situation as I am with my aloe veras, where I can’t bear to part with any of them!

What do you think, could you be an air plant convert?

A mermaid's tale, and some great planting

This might not be the post for a chillier day, but never mind, we can just imagine the sunshine can’t we? In fact when I saw this garden at Gardeners’ World Live in Birmingham earlier this year it wasn’t such a nice day either. But that didn’t stop me admiring the planting and pulling my cardy just a little bit tighter after the thought of being on the beach on a cooler day.

There’s nothing wrong with being on a beach on a chilly day, it can be just as nice to have the place more to yourself just as long as you’re dressed correctly. A bit like anything really, having the right clothes - or feeling that you do - makes a lot of things feel better.

It is the planting in this garden that I’m a fan of and the detail which really does give the feeling of being close to the beach. The wooden fence, the grasses swaying in the wind and the cool colour palette.

At first glance a pretty normal garden at Gardeners' World Live

While the mermaid was billed as the star of the show, I wasn’t that taken by her, and personally I think the space would have worked just as well without her. I’m not much of a mermaid person (you might have already guessed that) but the rest of the space is calming and beautiful.

Or maybe not so normal after all

Even the treasure chest was fine by me, its planting helped continue the theme in what could have been an empty space. And those pebbles, with the chive-like flowers.

sleepers and pebbles, and a treasure chest of course
planting amongst the pebbles in the mermaid garden

I was a fan of the wooden planks used as a path - a great way to add texture, especially surrounded by the pebbles. And saving walking too far on the pebbles too, which is always hard work isn’t it?

Adding interest with height in a modern way
fresh and pretty planting worthy of a mermaid at Gardeners' World Live

But overall what makes this garden work for me is the detailed and coordinated colours of the planting, from the purple sage, the chive-like flowers, the astrantias, grasses and sea holly. It just works, doesn’t it?