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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 27 August 2016 by Tim Ingram

Mounts Court Farmhouse

Mounts Court Farmhouse

A few pictures from the East Kent AGS Group picnic held at Geraldine and Graham Fish's garden recently. When I wrote about Geraldine's garden for 'Gardens Illustrated' in September 2014, I finished by comparing the artistry and skill with which it has been made and maintained with Sissinghurst. There is such clever planting throughout the garden and it has a wonderfully relaxed feel (for the visitor - another gardener will realise the huge amount of energy and imagination that has gone and goes in to making Geraldine's garden). As I have said elsewhere: "Everywhere you look is fine attention to detail; everywhere plants are in the right place with neighbours that reveal and contrast with them; everywhere is a thoughtful and intelligent eye. Certainly one of the finest gardens I have ever seen."



A fine collection of specimen plants in pots next to the conservatory. In a corner next to the house, very near to these, is the most wonderful plant of Kirengeshoma palmata just on the point of opening its shuttlecock-like buds. Beautifully grown, and the garden is full of treasures like this.

Kirengeshoma palmata

Looking down to the conservatory with Euonymus planipes in fruit, silver Leptospermum grandiflorum to the left. (The small raised bed to the right had had a recent visit from a badger, digging out a colony of bees).

Graham and Geraldine collect all the rain falling on the house into a large reservoir (testimony to Geraldine's childhood memories of drought in Australia), which also feeds a fine pond.

Geraldine had an artistic training to add to her innate understanding of form and composition, and combines plants with wonderful sensitivity. The rich soil, liberally fortified with home-made compost and irrigated in dry periods such as we have had this summer, makes the garden really colourful through summer and autumn as many perennials come into their own.

This pale coloured fruiting form of the Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus, is very striking and I suspect it is no coincidence that out of focus beyond is the red Monarda, echoing the colour.

Alpines and small perennials also play their part - this is a simple small grouping in a paved area...

And particularly nice is this pair of narrow borders with many herbs - a 'Garden within a Garden' with great variety and interest.

My wife Gillian and Paul Powis looking closely...

One of those d--- yellow composites which you ponder over until a helpful gardener gives you a name.

Just one small combination of plants here which could be said to sum up the way plants are used throughout the garden - with the most sympathetic combinations of form, growth habit and colour. Deceptively simple like all of the most successful art. The eye lingers and takes it in...

At the centre of the garden - and this shows fine logic - is a nursery and growing area for young plants, a run of compost heaps (which are made with the same commitment as the garden itself) and this very nice greenhouse. Gillian has been asking me for a long time for a good light potting house, and this would be just the thing with higher benching and more space for young plants.

It's a great privilege to have such a fine gardener as Geraldine within our small Group of Kentish gardeners - an inspiration to how a real artistic eye, energy and commitment can create a true work of art, as well as a garden full of the most fascinating plants for any plants-person. 

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