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?

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?