Plant logging the Dry Garden

My job involves recording all the planting at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, which, on a lovely day, is a treat for the senses

Hyde Hall's Dry Garden in Mid SeptemberMy role also includes updating the horticultural database and ordering engraved labels which, in turn, help the visitor experience.

So, armed with clipboards, holding a bed plan, logging sheets and plant movement forms (PMFs) together with pencil and rubber, I head out with my volunteer to log the additional planting that the gardeners have recently completed in the Dry Garden. On this clear summer’s day as I walk down the slope and around the bend my eyes are drawn to the beautiful views looking down and beyond to the Essex countryside.

Arriving at the bed I am working on, I now have to focus on the plants that I need to look for that are listed on the PMF. As I slowly walk around the bed, eyes glued to the ground looking for evidence of new planting I am distracted by the bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies that are buzzing around a clump of Calamintha nepeta subsp. glandulosa ‘White Cloud’ and I cannot resist crushing the leaves of this plant, giving off a refreshing minty fragrance.

Stipa giganteaOne of the plants that I am looking for is Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and I find a group added to an existing planting on a slightly raised slope of the bed, which really enhances the pinkish-white flowers as they appear to flutter like butterflies in the slight breeze. Having recorded the number and condition of the new plants onto the PMF I move on, passing a Stipa gigantea, and I cannot fail to admire the shimmering golden jewel-like spikelets of this grass set against a clear blue sky.

The last set of plants on my list is Erigeron glaucus and I locate a group at the edge of the bed. However, my form tells me that five were planted and I can only see four good plants; looking more closely I notice a tiny half chewed piece next to a hole, suggesting that either the hares or rabbits have dined on our fifth plant! I duly record my findings and also complete the new label request column.

Agapanthus africanus 'Albus'Behind the Erigeron is a large clump of Agapanthus africanus ‘Albus’, and whilst making my notes on the Erigeron I have to admit my eye is drawn to this Agapanthus with its white flowers tinged purple-pink at the top of dark stems that seem to cool off the heat radiated from the pebbles.

Having recorded all my findings I take one more look at that stunning view before making my way back to the office to update the database accordingly – one bed completed and on to the next...

Read more about RHS Garden Hyde Hall's Dry Garden.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.