Purple Plan

The ‘Purple border’ is aptly named, due to the collection of herbaceous plants and shrubs which have been chosen to create a proud display of purple, pinks, mauves, blues and violet hues along the entire length of the south facing wall to the left of the top courtyard as you enter the main garden. Tony Lord describes it in his book ‘Gardening at Sissinghurst’ as ‘the courtyard’s greatest gardening glory.’ According to the conservation management plan, Vita was intrigued by single coloured flower borders since her first gardening exploits at Long Barn and her visits to Munstead Wood, the home of Gertrude Jekyll. The ‘White Garden’ is certainly her most famous example, but she also loved colour too. Her collection of richly coloured glass and porcelain visible in the tower demonstrates this very well, as does indeed the purple border. The perpetual question is…….. How well is it performing?

This is of course, a valid and essential question for the head gardener to ask and this year I am hoping to help the search for answers by recording a planting plan.

This will be a detailed profile of all the plants in the border, scored against a list of plant characteristics with a numbered scale by which to judge the merit of each one. For example; colour, height, foliage, habit and so on. One idea could include a numbered colour key. A helpful and practical tool to ensure the exact flower colour is chosen and a way to avoid a dozen different interpretations of what a ‘light purple’ might look like to a dozen different pairs of eyes when choosing new plants.

This will be done week by week, over a one year time span to hopefully produce a detailed plant record throughout the growing season. The gathered information will not only show flowering succession/colour and interest, but also help highlight any ill performing plants, gaps and maintenance requirements.

As of yet, the list of plants is being correlated and made into a user friendly, printable spreadsheet by the skilled administrators whose office happens to look out over the top courtyard garden. Once it is ready I can begin the process and in due course I will let you know of my progress.

Jo Jones