Posted: Friday 23 May 2014
by Kate Bradbury
If you stand at the end of the Homebase ‘Time to Reflect’ garden and look up, you might notice holes in the leaves of the hornbeam trees above you.
If you stand at the end of the Homebase ‘Time to Reflect’ garden and look up, you might notice holes in the leaves of the hornbeam trees above you. These holes are likely to be the work of moth caterpillars, such as the scarce umber (Agriopis aurantiaria), or small white wave (Asthena albulata), which feed on hornbeam foliage.
I looked for the culprits, but couldn’t find them. I didn’t want to draw attention to something that many visitors might see as an imperfection at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. But a wildlife-friendly garden that supports wildlife is far from imperfect to me - I was rather pleased with my discovery.
Designed by Adam Frost, the Homebase ‘Time to Reflect’ garden is my favourite at this year’s show. Not only is there evidence of moth caterpillars, but I love the naturalistic planting, drifts of blue iris and meadow buttercup, and the large log seat complete with holes and cracks, in which a number of insects and spiders could make a home. There are a couple of wildlife ponds, too – what more could you want from a garden?
Another favourite of mine this year is the M&G ‘Paradise’ garden, designed by Cleve West. It offers a contemporary interpretation of the 1000-year old Persian paradise garden that still influences today’s designs. The M&G ‘Paradise’ garden is full of bee-friendly plants, from alliums and cerinthe, to poppies and red valerian. Almost every plant in the garden is a bee magnet, and, when I saw it, it was duly full of bees. I saw my first male bumblebees of the year in Cleve’s garden – a couple of sleepy early nesting bees, Bombus pratorum, resting on an allium.
As James Alexander-Sinclair says, Chelsea gardens may be an unobtainable goal for most of us. It’s very hard to recreate them in their entirety, but we can take little bits of them home with us. And if those bits include inspiration to create beautiful gardens that are full of moths and bees, then all the better.