Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to Cambo

Scotland has always had a reputation for being more 'European' than England. Nowhere is this more true than at Cambo House, near St. Andrews where head gardener Elliott Forsyth has gone for Dutch and German-inspired naturalistic planting in a big way, wonderfully framed by the walls, old apple trees and surviving structures of a typical 19th century walled garden. The grasses and perennial mixes are at their best from August through to October, with repetition and rhythm key elements in creating some wonderfully harmonious plantings. Not everything thrives up here of course, and the northern latitude may create problems for a few species in the new prairie area which Elliott has recently laid out. Most of the perennials of the New Perennial movement however seem fine.
Another, more original element still, is the summer 'potager', which Elliott works out in great detail over the winter, It is a mix of perennials, half-hardies, grasses, annuals and veg; every year there is a different theme (colour, structure etc.) and the overall visual aesthetic (dotting, blocks, drifting etc.) changes too. Its gorgeous and a great inspiration. It is the nearest thing to the summer plantings you see in the German garden-shows, although a lot looser and wilder, where incredible plant combinations are put together by designers like Christine Orel and Christian Meyer, just for the 3-4 months of the event. Unlike the perennial plantings, these don't seem to have had much influence over here.

Cambo is featured in the September issue of Gardens Illustrated.

1 comment:

Martyn Cox said...

Great post. I visited Cambo in late January last year, primarily to write a piece on its snowdrops, but was taken aback by how good the skeletal shapes of the grasses and perennials were still looking in the walled garden.