Head Gardener Tom's plants for The Resilience Garden

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

As part of Gravetye Manor’s involvement with The Resilience Garden project at Chelsea this year, I was lucky enough to be asked to help Sarah Eberle with some of the planting. It was the most incredible experience to be involved with the build, with so much to learn and many new ideas to enrich Gravetye . There were many new plants, but it was also exciting to see how Sarah had used some of our old favourites, grown at Gravetye.

Californian poppies are such fun to have self-sowing around the garden. We use them along the front of the long border at Gravetye as well as in the edges of the kitchen garden and through the azalea bank. We grew several varieties for the show and ‘Red Chief’ turned out to be the most effective on the day.

Echium russicum is a lovely thing, which we have grown at Gravetye for nearly ten years. For me it is one of the most interesting hardy echiums with its purplish red colour. We gave a handful to Sarah to try and so it was a wonderful surprise to see them used with great success.

Ranunculus acris stevenii is a plant which we use quite a lot in our borders and meadows and something Sarah was very interested in trying when she saw it growing here at Gravetye. It is the same as our native wild buttercup but will get over a meter tall and flowers very prolifically. We divided some from our borders last winter, and grew them on in pots, so it was very exciting to see them used at the front of the garden. When we planted them, the plants were still in bud but thankfully they opened just in time for judging.

Amsonia tabernaemontana is one of my favourite herbaceous perennials. It looks so unusual as it first emerges in spring almost like ornamental asparagus. By May it has bushed up and produced these lovely sky-blue flowers which worked perfectly in The Resilience Garden woodland planting.and ‘Red Chief’ turned out to be the most effective on the day.

Geranium himalayense is a really good plant, which we use at Gravetye. It is very closGeranium himalayense is a really good plant, which we use at Gravetye. It is very closely related to a cultivar called ‘Gravetye’, bred here at the manor by William Robinson. Unfortunately, our Gravetye plants wouldn’t flower in time for Chelsea but this species was looking fabulous just in time for the show.ely related to a cultivar called ‘Gravetye’, bred here at the manor by William Robinson. Unfortunately, our Gravetye plants wouldn’t flower in time for Chelsea but this species was looking fabulous just in time for the show.

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