Replanting The Terrace Borders
The terrace that runs along the side of the house at Glyndebourne is a favourite place to promenade during the long interval and to admire the views across the gardens to the downs.
The area is one of the most cultivated parts of the garden and photographs show that there were large borders here at the beginning of the last century. Decades of manuring and mulching mean that the soil here is easy-to-work and fertile. Too fertile, in fact for some plants. Over recent years a number of thuggish perennials, such as Bidens aurea and Macleaya cordata, have romped through the borders while other, more delicate plants have withered.
In 2010 we decided to rejuvenate the terrace borders, with most of the work being done that winter and the remainder during the winter of 2011. Most of the herbaceous plants were removed and where possible the well-behaved ones were either used elsewhere in the garden or given to Glyndebourne staff.
The aim of the replanting was to add architecture and rhythm to the borders whilst still keeping an exuberant and abundant atmosphere that was also fragrant and long-lasting.
The first of the new plantings were five tall columns (2.5m high) of a small-leaved, evergreen laurel, Prunus lusitanica ‘Myrtifolia’. These make a dramatic impact when seen from the lawns while from the terrace they frame the view across the downs and echo the line of Irish yews that line the main lawn.
Semicircles of box, Buxus sempervirens, grown as 70cm diameter balls were added to snake through the border. During the winter, when few plants are flowering, the laurels and the box give s strong sense of structure to the border; during the spring they are a perfect foil to tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs.
The main colour scheme of the border is purple, pink, white and silver. The clipped box ball curves are shadowed by the purple flowers of Allium atropurpureum and Allium sphaeracephalon This is followed later in the year with the airy stems and deep red flowers of Knautia macedonica that dance through a curtain of white-flowered Gaura lindheimeri. Through the rest of the borders there are several varieties of Achillea, Penstemon, Hemerocallis and Salvias. Sedums enjoy the baking condition that can occur on the terrace and are used extensively in the new planting scheme.
Along the front of the terrace are planted groups of Rosa ‘Bonica’, a modern rose with old-fashioned prettiness that offers its pink flowers from July to September. Overhanging the wall of the terrace in midsummer is a froth of pink flowers from Gypsophila ‘Rosenschlier’.
Amongst the most dramatic plants on the terrace are tall spires of the foxtail lily, Eremurus. These are in flower in early June but the seed heads continue to look impressive throughout the festival. Later in the summer large clumps of Crambe cordifolia produce clouds of tiny white flowers seven feet tall and as much wide.
For those of us who work in the Glyndebourne gardens, the most exciting part of the replanting is right at the beginning of the terrace, near the long bar. In a small bed in front of the organ room we have planted a group of the new rose, Rosa ‘Glyndebourne’. The first two roses were planted by Lady Christie and her daughter-in-law, Danielle de Niese. The remainder were planted, with far less ceremony but just as much excitement, by the gardening team.
During your next promenade along the Glyndebourne terrace, slow your pace: pause to savour the perfumes, admire the views and absorb the tranquility of the lush and ebullient plantings.