24 February 2012
We are creating a wonderful garden in Minneapolis, which is
taking Stefano and I to the United States on a regular basis. We
spent a very exciting week there last week choosing the specimen
plants we will include in the garden.
We had hoped to use Betula nigra- the river birch - but
it will be too big and overpowering for the design. We had also
hoped to use Acer griseum but the climate will be slightly
too cold for it and we feel it is too much of a risk. Minneapolis
is in hardiness zone 4.5 andAcer griseumneeds zone 5 - if the
garden experienced a hard winter, this acer would not survive. We
want to create a garden with longevity so it is really important we
choose plants that are going to thrive.
Our trip last week turned up two trees which we think are going
to be perfect for the design - a malus (crab apple) with a
beautiful white flower and an alternative acer with gorgeous bright
red seeds. Neither will be too big for the planting scheme but we
have found some lovely mature specimens that with some careful
pruning will make beautiful shapes. They will be placed amongst
criss-crossing clouds of taxus with clipped domes of euonymous to
link them. The rest of the planting scheme feels very contemporary
using native American prairie plants within a matrix of Briza
media (quaking grass).
In addition, we found an incredible native vine which we plan to
train over trellis in the garden we are creating. It has the most
wonderful orange berries and will be a fantastic addition to the
It was really very exciting seeing the trees at the nursery but
the visit really brought it home to me how lucky we are to have
nurseries in Europe selling such a diverse choice of plants, shrubs
and trees. Our temperate climate allows us to grow such a huge
variety of plants - we really can be spoiled for choice. In America
however, the choice is limited - by climate and availability.
Luckily my planting schemes only ever rely on a small palette of
plants, repeated to create striking plant combinations. For
this design we are using lots of native American prairie plants and
whilst driving through the vast expanses of wild prairie meadows,
frosted with winter ice crystals, we couldn't wait to return later
in the season to see perennials we use in gardens in Europe
flowering here in their natural habitat.