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Gardening with Gael - The white walk


white-365With the finale for Season Seven of Game of Thrones now over, it's time to stop trying to predict the next season and get on with some gardening. There is an area above the tea plantation which begs development. Since visiting Japan I have been dying to plant some wide spreading cherry trees to cascade over the trimmed tea plants. The perfect spot is just above the first line which, when grown, will make an amazing feature. Ces at the market said he had the exact trees I was looking for, Prunus fujiama. With wide spreading branches and white cherry blossoms, an added bonus is their brilliant orange and red display in the autumn.

Once I'd started cutting in a terrace for my cherry trees I realised, as usual, that planting on a hill requires access and that I would need to link this garden to the top of the hill. The only way to do it was to cut a track. This would start at the top of the hill, zigzag down past the cherry trees and link in to the path that meanders through the tea plantation. The form of the garden was beginning to take shape.

Standing at the top of the hill I looked down and realised that I could combine several ideas that had been banging around in my brain for a while.

I don’t know why, maybe Vita Sackville-West and her white garden has infiltrated our collective unconscious, but most gardeners like the idea of a white garden and I have been planning one for some time. However, until now, another colour has always crept in. The colour of the flowers of the tea plants camellia sinesis are white, so the lower half of the garden except for a handful of specimen trees already adheres to the white principle. To the right, Box has planted 750 manuka and kanuka, also in keeping with the white flowered theme.

The first thing to do was move the pink trees, two horse chestnuts (aesculus carnea) and a beautiful magnolia Felix to new positions further along the hill. Fortunately, on a trip to the nursery one day, I spotted a white flowered escallonia (escallonia snowbud).

Escallonias are a trouble-free border shrub which make a great hedge. Usually the flowers are in shades of pink to red. This was the first white one I had seen. Escallonias are a hardy evergreen. They can be planted as a single shrub which clips well or as a hedge. I decided this was the perfect specimen to define one side of my walk. Escallonias enjoy full sun, partial shade, a slightly acid soil, and once established cope well with a drought. A hedge I grew in the sand outside one of the cottages proved entirely trouble-free and so I don’t anticipate too many problems with my new snowbud hedge.

To create a froth of white between the cherry trees and the tea plants I decided on trachelospermum jasminoides or star jasmine. It is no relation to the jasmine that has become a weed, the shape and fragrance of its five petalled white star flowers is the only similarity.

By now I had combined the themes of a Japanese garden and a white garden.

To finish the look I am moving some white mop-headed hydrangeas into the shaded areas and a couple of spireas with their arching branches covered in tiny white flowers to the area as well. If there is room I will consider planting a white magnolia. The new plan is complete and almost executed. So what should I call it? Back to the Game of Thrones for inspiration. The White Walk of course. I can’t wait to look up from below and see all the white flowers in bloom; my own white wall.

ESCALLONIA SNOWBUD: this trouble-free border shrub earns its place in a white garden.

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