Posted: Monday 21 October 2013
by James Alexander-Sinclair
Alas, not everything in the garden can be glamorous. There also has to be room for the mundane and utilitarian.
Alas, not everything in the garden can be glamorous. There also has to be room for the mundane and utilitarian. These are the plants that are not really designed to be the stars of the show, but to maintain a steady background and support.
Think of, say, Dame Shirley Bassey on stage at the London Palladium. The chances are that the backdrop will be of just the right texture and tone to enhance her, and not distract you, as she belts out Goldfinger.
Substitute a magnificent rose in full flower for Dame Shirley and you will realise that this too needs some sort of suitable background; it will look a bit rubbish with just an old fence or the neighbour’s shed behind it. Neither do you want to swamp its glories by surrounding it with something brash and shouty.
So, you see how important these supporting plants are. I would like to suggest Griselinia littoralis as a candidate. It makes a good, reliable hedge, and it easily withstands the buffeting of coastal winds. The image above shows one surrounding a garden on top of a Cornish cliff.The leaves are a good mid-green colour all year round - which gives a different tone to many evergreen hedges which are quite dark green (yew, laurel, privet etc). It also has tiny yellowish flowers, followed in autumn by purple fruit. If given the chance, it will reach about 4m high, but is easily restrained.
A valuable (and valued) back-room boy of the plant world.