The Triffids are here:

For all we know one of these monstrous structures could lash out a tongue-like projectile, caked with gluey secretions, and whip us through the air into its gaping maw.




 Once fast in there, we could be chemically boiled alive in its toxic reticulum.


 Here we are in a rather gruesome enclosure, where living plants have been reduced to the dense texture of the stone that surrounds them. The tiered topiary specimens resemble some rather dreadful ‘Mengela-esque’ experiment whereby a pigmy has been grafted onto a giant.

Yet more evergreens overhang. The grass begs texture, which an extra 3-6cm of growth would give, and the brilliance of a mat of winter bulbs. The only delicacy, if such it can be called, is the criss cross lattice-work of the deciduous trees at the far end.

And, rather ridiculously, at this end the flag-stone path leads nowhere. Were it not for the gap to the open fields beyond one would be climbing the walls screaming.

Yes, it is possible to overdo structure!

And yet to hear and read the garden pundits you would imagine that the only important thing in the winter garden is structure. Whatever happened to textural variety.  As ever, it is a question of balance in all things.

However, it is all too easy to criticise and less simple to say what should be done.

What is needed here is more space. This area is too crowded with the pollarded arms of the Tilias almost touching and three box balls plonked rather formulaically at the bottom.

At some point the lime branches have been allowed to grow too long – it is of course then difficult to safely reduce them. The vast burrs are the result of pollarding to which the trees have responded by producing a chaotic mass of shoots some of which remain dormant-thank goodness! In all probability this is not the correct species of lime to use for pollarding since some, such as x vulgaris, are especially prone to producing massive burrs.

As it is, the chaotic, top heavy structure of these limes needs to be simplified.

But what is as important is some more delicate, additional planting which more space would allow.

On my way to a client the other day I was struck by the beauty of sunlight on the over-wintering, silvery seed heads of common or garden old man’s beard.  Deciduous shrubs such as the smaller philadelphus give a delicate tracery of light catching, bare twigs which would introduce airy volume. The decaying beauty of herbaceous perennials and grasses, the papery luminescence of honesty and the skeletonised beauty of Physalis calyces are all possible. These delicate elements would not rob the structure of its strength, but set it off and yet still remove the forbidding starkness of this area.

Of course structure is very much the recourse of the soi-disant ‘garden makers’ who do not know their plants. They recognise grass and yew – just!

Lightness of touch anyone?