musing on Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden

Today I’m coveting this long water tank “rill” in British landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden flanked with bearded irises, Stipa gigantea, and astrantia, a scene possibly from late spring/very early summer? The first two I can grow here in zone 10, but not the astrantia. Bearded iris blooms much earlier than Stipa gigantea does here, at least in my Los Angeles garden. But even if I could get the stipa and iris to coincide, what could replace the astrantia? A smallish reblooming aloe like ‘Rooikappie’ posssibly interplanted with the annual umbellifer Orlaya grandiflora? Whatever…that tank is fabulous, even if lined in green seslerias or lomandra.

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That long water tank could run alongside my pergola (but would no doubt take up more than half of the available planting area — a bitter compromise). I can see the raccoons bathing in it by moonlight and the garden impressionistically reflected in it by daylight, birds insouciantly winging in for a quick dip — and the cat with lots more warning bells added to his collar…

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I miss Stipa gigantea and need to find a way again to shoehorn it into the garden.

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photos via Desire to Inspire.

“The Barn Garden at Serge Hill” is located about 25 miles north of London. This version of his garden was installed in 2007, pretty much lifted intact from his Gold Medal and Best In Show Chelsea Flower Show garden for the Daily Telegraph in 2006. The planting is on the dry-ish side, comprised of “irises, echinaceas, euphorbias, sedums, salvias, eryngiums, achilleas and grasses like Stipa gigantea and Panicum.” from “A Tapestry of Color at Serge Hill.”

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5 Responses to musing on Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden

  1. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Stunning! The water-tank rill is lust-worthy but to give up so much planting space in a garden smaller than this would be difficult for a plant addict. (Not that I’m accusing you of having such an addiction or anything…)

  2. Lorinda says:

    British gardens leave me envious every time.

  3. Scott Weber says:

    I adore TSS…and this planting is so dreamy. You’ve made me want to try Stipa gigantea again too! I wonder if you could sub Eryngiums (some of the heavy-flowering, but small-flowering varieties like ‘Blue Glitter’) for the Astrantias. The color, obviously, is different…but the textural effect would be similar.

  4. Kris P says:

    It’s an absolutely gorgeous combination. Sunset’s Western Garden Book actually claims we can grow Astrantia here (with “regular” water) but you can’t prove it by me – that species is right up there with peonies as one of my most coveted flowering plants but I got zip when I tried to grow them. And you’re right, the raccoons would have a field day with a rill like that – I envision mama raccoons bringing their babies on nightly visits…

  5. Denise says:

    @Peter, I keep waiting for an adjacent neighbor to donate their property to me. When that happens, I’ll get a rill!
    @Lorinda, I really like this modern take of TSS. The double herbaceous borders, not so much.
    @Scott, they eryngos might work if I could get them all going at once. They’re on and off here for some unknown reason. I’ve got a lot reseeding but no blooms from planum this year.
    @Kris, you’ve definitely got the space for something like this. And I thought of you in my vision of splashing raccoons 😉

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