Who needs sculptures, when nature provides living art?

Share Canberra's trusted news:
Cedric plans to leave this pruning task until spring, enjoying a living sculpture until then.

“Large country estates in Britain and Europe spend millions on their statuary and spectacular water features, but nature provides its own living art,” says gardening columnist CEDRIC BRYANT

GARDENERS often use ornaments or sculptures to enhance or add interest to their gardens.

Cedric Bryant.

Large country estates in Britain and Europe spend millions on their statuary and spectacular water features. And in one district garden, I saw a magnificent, full-size bronze horse and foal.

Nature can provide its own living art. I have a group of three Hibiscus syriacus that have lost their leaves, leaving long, bare, upright canes. To encourage more branches and autumn flowers, I generally recommend giving these a hard prune in winter, reducing each cane to a mere 30cm. However, I’m going to leave this task until spring, enjoying a living sculpture until then.

FOR those with an interest in the history of large country estates in Britain, it’s worth reading about Ellen Ann Willmott (1858-1934), and the 20-hectare garden she had at her country home, Warley Place, not far from London.

At its peak, she employed 104 uniformed gardeners to tend the staggering 100,000 different plant species and cultivars. She financed plant hunters, such as the famous E H Wilson, to go on three trips to China looking for rare plants. We are indebted to her for introducing many plants that are now available here, brought via early colonial settlers from Britain.

There’s no limit to garden art.

More than 50 plants are named after her, including the low-growing, open-branched deciduous shrub Willmotts Blue, or Chinese plumbago (Ceratostigma willmottianum). This is just one of hers that was given the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the RHS. The story goes, she would patrol her gardens at night with a revolver looking for plant thieves! Willmott is responsible for the establishment of the famous and first Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley, in the English county of Surrey, south of London, by persuading her friend Sir Thomas Hanbury to donate the land to the Society. 

DON’T miss a visit to the Eurobodalla and Regional Botanic Gardens, if you’re down the south coast. Large areas were affected by the 2020 fires getting too close, and one of the buildings was scorched. The saving of these buildings was vital, as a whole new development of the site had only just been completed. A new café, book shop, meeting room, plant nursery and shop were all part of this development. The super playground has now been completely restored. What they have achieved between the staff and a large number of Friends of the Gardens is nothing short of remarkable. It’s also worth having a look at their newsletter, which shows the amazing scope of the gardens.

THERE’S no better way to meet people than to join a garden club. The Horticultural Society of Canberra was the first club founded in 1929. Its aim was to foster the spirit of gardening and friendship with those of a common interest in the new national capital. 

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep citynews.com.au free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleFirefighters battle blaze in Campbell
Next articleCartoon / Dose of Dorin
Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

Leave a Reply