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Plants in the Garden: The garden of David Sayers & Sylvie Buat-Menard

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Started by: Tim Ingram

A small garden of great vitality and artistry

Go to latest contribution by Tim Ingram, 14 June 2013, 19:42. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Tim Ingram 08 August 2011, 20:42top / bottom of page

Within our East Kent Group we have members with remarkably diverse gardens, and this is no doubt true over the country. Small gardens are often the most artistic and fascinating because great attention is paid to detail. Few AGS gardens are devoted solely to alpines, but the AGS appeals to gardeners with an abiding and detailed interest in plants of many sorts. David & Sylvie grow alpines in raised beds near the house, but many other plants to, and the accompanying photographs show how exciting and theatrical is their garden.

This garden is just one of five that we are opening through the NGS next spring, to introduce more gardeners to our Group and also to the AGS in general. Though the Society by name may have a restricted remit, by membership it is considerably more diverse, and the common factor is the thrill that gardens give us, both in the making and the visiting!

Some scenes of the garden

The last picture is of Clethra alnifolia, a rather lovely small scented shrub for acid soil, and representative of many unusual species growing in the garden. David & Sylvie live on the outskirts of Whitstable and with a mild climate which allows them to grow a number of pretty tender plants, including the purple leaved form of Acacia baileyana and species of Melaleuca. There are some very attractive individual groupings of plants, like the heucheras shown below, and a good deal of fun as with the Tanacetum. We may be someway from the alpine purist, but then variety is the spice of life!

Contribution from Tim Ingram 14 June 2013, 19:15top / bottom of page
Artistry in the Garden

I'm not sure if this has ever been a subject in the Journal, but I imagine many AGS members do approach plants in this way even given the more botanical credentials of the Society. It does illustrate the difference between viewing plants as individual species or as parts of a garden vision. Some people are especially artistic in the use of plants (and Beth Chatto must be a prime example). They are more often female and approach gardening from the perspective of Flower Arranging, and also often Botanical Art. Sylvie combines all these things and the way she uses plants in her garden becomes more and more entertaining as you look closer and closer.

The first picture shows how subtly and carefully colour and form are combined. In this part of the garden deep purples and yellows predominate, including the rather extraordinary variety of Centaurea montana, 'Jordy'. Not only are the plants beautifully combined but they also include many rare and unusual varieties.

Artistry in the Garden

Sylvie and David also grow many alpines both in containers and in the garden, but again these are used as part of the artistic impression of the garden overall - proof that alpines can be used as effectively as any other groups of plants in Garden Design, even though they may rarely be considered in this way (i.e: most of us are simply content to enjoy them in the garden without considering the way they are used in greater detail).

In Paul Powis' garden Chiastophyllum combines beautifully with a sempervivum. Was this intended on Rosemary's part, or a happy accident? Gardens regularly provide such combinations which like music can be harmonious or sometimes jarring. The second two pictures in Sylvie's garden I certainly find the former, and the whole garden gives the same feeling.

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