Monochrome Planting

I have just come across a photograph in the current issue of the National Trust Magazine of planting at the National Trust’s Stourhead. A whole host of tulips is grown in longish grass there (you may need to renew them every year as tulips can be temperamental in grass), but what is really unusual is the black and white planting scheme. We’ve had plenty of white gardens since Vita Sackville-West was at Sissinghurst and black plants are fashionable. But this monochrome mixture is not one I’ve seen before.

The tulips are Queen of the Night and Maureen growing at random, probably one third black and the rest white. It looks extremely elegant. For a closer look, go to Stourhead for yourself (check when tulips are doing their stuff on 01747 841 152).

The secret, say the gardeners, is to balance the fertiliser carefully ? too much will just encourage the grass. Come to think of it, the black and white monochrome look could be pushed further into the season ? black and white bearded irises, balck bamboo beside silver birch trunks and bulls blod dark beetroot leaves beside the white stems of chard.

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