Supporting Role


I am aware that I have a tendency to linger a little too long on the garden’s divas: curvaceous and powerfully scented roses, the perfect petals of a peony, extraordinarily geometrical lupins. These are the flowers that bring an instant smile of self congratulation to the gardener; look on my works ye mighty and…perhaps not despair, no garden should bring even the mighty to that state of mind, I will settle for …. be a little impressed.

However like any good production, the prima donnas are nothing without a good supporting cast. The tender flowers of the astilbe pictured above keep interest in one of my flower beds going, long after their neighbors, a group of starry columbines, are past their best.

This scabious, so much prettier than its name implies, dutifully fills a space in a roof tub all summer long.

Lavender is such a commodity in gardens, steadfastly pumping out perfect purple blooms and scented air, that is becomes easy to take it for granted. The individual flowers are not that stunning, but a mini hedge of this chorus line stalwart, planted two years ago, has transformed my garden path from an utilitarian line of concrete tiles into an aromatic and colourful walkway.

So let’s hear it for the backing singers, the rhythm section, the production crew. The stars may have their moment of glory, but their glory is short lived. The plants pictured have a much longer lasting role to play. None more so than this final humble hero, the evergreen and ever gorgeous dwarf pine. They may not elicit the same sigh of satisfaction and pride from their gardener, but without them our gardens would be browner and sadder places.

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