4 September 2016

Flower power in Lloyd Park

One of the best things about Lloyd Park is the William Morris-inspired garden, and now is (arguably) the time to catch it at its best. Officially it's a formal garden, with a regular layout of rectangular beds, grass and paths. But the lush planting changes from year to year, becoming more interesting as the large blocks of perennial flowers expand and begin to intermix. Tall rampant growth obscures the straight lines and blurs the boundaries between herbaceous borders, grass and brick paths. A line of ridiculously tall carline thistles straggles down the middle, their washed-out pale green stalks standing out against the background of dark trees. A single eucalyptus tree, maybe a hundred feet tall, continuously sheds big strips of bark leaving pale patches on the trunk. Smaller pleasures include the bright blue stalks of sea holly, and the lambs ears (Stachys byzantina) which are completely covered in white fur.

At this time of year and after weeks of drought the lush green foliage and fresh flowers are mixed in with lots of dry dead-looking stalks with ripe seed heads, making it seem almost like a wild untended garden. I’ve been trying to recreate the effect in my own garden, and you can get the some of the hazy effect with tall purple verbena and ordinary fennel, but you can't hope to match the sheer scale. It's the massing of a single kind of bloom, ramdomly mixed in with a few strays, that makes this so impressive.