There’s architectural and architectural, and this is ARCHITECTURAL!

Do you remember the architectural plants buzz?

All the talk was of tree ferns and bamboos, fatsias and rodgersias. In the end the term became abused and anything was being called that just to sell it.

A famous ‘architectural plant’ nursery listed Ceanothus Concha as architectural. I just don’t get that. My version is that architectural involves special form, substantial bulk and considerable drama. Its use is then focal, contrasting and contrapuntal.

All that architectural plants fuss seems to have evaporated and I suspect many of the plants bought in all the hype are dead. But that is fashion, rather than design or plantsmanship. And the rest of us go on using them without all the hype, just the same way we always did. Right plant, right place.

My chosen location for Mr. Donax was indeed a place to conjure with. Some 1.5 metres down a crevasse behind a raised bed and ending with its toes in the water behind a big skunk cabbage. So anything had to grow 1.5 metres to be seen at all.

Arundo donax presented itself as a gift and the place suggested itself as The Giant Reed’s new home. It is possible for it to grow to 6 metres, but it won’t do that here. Cleopatra may possibly have grown it that tall. Did she garden before she took to messing round with Mark Antony and keeping reptiles?

I figure this must be 4 metres at present. I want to see more glaucous spikes next year, backlit by the sun and contrasted colour and form wise with the neighbour’s copper beech.

The vigorous growth which you see in the centre is one season’s. The more spindly growth you see to the left side is last year’s growth (its first in fact in this position and therefore rather spindly) which has resprouted.

The difference is more immediately apparent when you see it from round the side.Very clearly for maximum architectural impact you are best cutting down annually in the Autumn. I would also mulch around with some bulky organic matter. 

On the upper side of the Arundo donax I am growing Crocosmia paniculata., because it is another but less substantial plant and I want to see the emerald green pleated leaves and the later red flowers contrasted against the cooler Arundo donax foliage.