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Some garden theatre


By kowhai


At the weekend we made a quick visit to nearby Greys Court (the subject of other blogs) to see how the peony border and the clematis bower were doing. Spectacularly is the answer.

The grounds and gardens at Greys have a number of benefits that few of us enjoy. The gardens are well sited, all being walled, which means that they are very well sheltered, yet they enjoy sunshine all day. There is a small full time garden team, as well as lots of volunteers. This means that the gardens and grounds receive excellent and expert care and attention,though without looking too manicured and fussed over.

The peony border and the clematis bower were planted when Lady Brunner was still in residence (she died in 2003) and at about the time we first started visiting Greys, some thirty years ago. What I am calling the ‘clematis bower’ started out as a sequence of paired crab apple saplings. After several seasons, some huge hoops were installed, along which the crab apples were trained eventually joining at the top of each hoop, forming a semi-circle. Then clematis were planted.

This planting provides some seasonal continuity. At first there is the crab apple blossom in the early spring. When this has faded, the clematis start to come into bloom. They eventually cease flowering, leaving the ripening crab apples to provide a fruitful display in the late summer. Very clever. Just one of the hoops would make a fine display in the average garden. Unfortunately, my garden just isn’t right: there isn’t enough sunshine and my several attempts to grow clematis have been met by failure.

The clematis blooms remind my wife and me of the spectacular costumes that Cecil Beaton designed for My Fair Lady, particularly the Ascot sequence. It’s not entirely inappropriate that the clematis should provide such a theatrical display as Lady Brunner was the grand daughter of Henry Irving, the great Victorian actor and impressario. Both the peony border and the clematis bower continue a theatrical tradition transplanted to the garden.

More blog posts by kowhai

Previous post: Foliage and flowers

Next post: Blooms in June



What absolutely staggering flowers - so beautiful and so many of them - how beautiful.

23 May, 2011


Very much appreciate your blog, I did this at the end of my garden with two plum trees and clematis "Warsaw Nike" and am waiting for them to mature and fill out, so your last photo is very encouraging.

23 May, 2011


What a lovely blog, those hoops are a fantastic sight. Thankyou for photo`s and the imformation......

23 May, 2011


it looks stunning; is it open for anyone to go and look?

23 May, 2011


Wonderful....the blooms are so big!!

23 May, 2011


There are some clematis that prefer not to be in the sun - you could try 'Guernsey Cream' (I have this one on a shady garage wall) or 'Nelly Moser'

23 May, 2011


Thanks for comments and advice. I'll try to track down Guernsey Cream and Nelly Moser. I really would love to get some clematis growing in my garden.

Greys Court is a National Trust property near Henley-on-Thames, where we live. It's open Wednesdays to Sundays during the summer. Unfortunately, there's no public transport so it's only accessible by car or bike or taxi.

Good luck to all of you nurturing your clematis!

24 May, 2011


thanks kowhai ~ i shall look out for it ~ maybe a good place to meet my sister, she lives fairly near there.

24 May, 2011


Fab Clematis, I can only hope mine grow to look like that..or something near it! Greys Court has always been on my "to visit" list and never got there..must try it with Hatfield House and a travelodge!

12 Jun, 2011

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