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China Girl blog 13th July 2017

A hundred years ago, the great gardener William Robinson wrote “A garden should grow out of its own site”. Dearest added “as it does here at Cothay”.  One must think long and hard before making a garden; she says she would not have achieved the garden of today had it not been for the layout, nearly a hundred years ago by Reginald Cooper. The gardens that linger in the mind are lyrical evocations of small pleasures.

When I mentioned to Mother that the entrances to the small garden rooms were rather narrow and that it was difficult to push a wheelbarrow through them, Ma said she had been told that many years ago they had been allowed to get smaller, as the señor of the time had a fancy lady whom he liked to meet in the privacy of the garden rooms. By allowing the garden entrances to grow and become narrow, his wife,who was a large lady, could not pass through whilst the dallied with his mistress!

The longed-for rain has arrived to rejuvenate the garden; even so, there is plenty to do in the greenhouse. Whilst Ma was standing outside last week, a foreign gentleman asked her “Where is ze green house? I ‘ave been all over ze garden looking for a green house, I cannot anywhere find it” Ma tried not to laugh, realising that abroad they are known as glasshouses!

The flower of the week in its own somewhat unspectacular way, is the rather thuggish understated Macleaya cordata, the plume poppy, which is even taller than Ma, at about eight feet. Its beauty lies in the colour of its leaves, shifting in the summer breeze. Although a runner, it is usefeful for the back of a border.  Native to Japan and southwards to China and Taiwan, it grows in open grassy meadows.

A faint echo of Robinson’s words are that we should think of the spot, and what can best be grown there.

All plants are works of art, especially if placed in a setting pleasing to the eye. The memory will linger on, their scent haunting for a lifetime.