Sarah Coles
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A GARDEN FOR LILLIPUT

15th February 2021 Miniature garden designer My first garden was created decades ago.  Must have been aged about five. When Ma took me out on a walk, I gathered twigs and mosses, and on returning home I arranged them on a plate to become a doll’s house garden.  Ma lent me a little mirror from her handbag.  My garden was Japanese in feel, with bridges, shrubs, a tree here and there and a central glittering pond.  Green was its only colour. I was thinking about it.  And so the other day, in this damp cold time of Covid restrictions,  as I went for a muddy walk in the wood, I had a bag and in...
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WINTER LEAVES

It’s winter, depths of.  Freezing.  I look at tree trunks, and lichen like verdigris, and the leaves that remain.  So subtle, unlike the baby froth of spring, the punch of summer or fire of autumn.  It’s like being able to see stars in daytime. There’s variegated ivy spread eagled on a wall, giving all year shelter and nesting to the birds.   Never thought it would grow like this when I bought it in a little pot to stabilise a nearby bank.   Each leaf is an island map with pale, dark  and gold contours. Mid summer I hacked down the giant fennel which had grown so huge and coarse it...
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Golden Rain

I planted the Golden Rain Tree, Koelreuteria paniculata oh, twelve years ago, having  checked its hardiness and tolerance of chalky soil.  I liked the name.  Soon I was attaching bird feeder to its branches.   Now, it blots out any summer view from the bedroom above.   In spring ferny pink leaves appear, later green.  In late July and August sprays of tiny gold flowers bloom.  These fade and fall, but the show is not over.  The tree is covered by sprays of little Chinese lanterns holding the seed.  Eventually, leaves and lanterns fall, resulting in a few seedlings on the ground nearby.  In...
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PAINTING PARADISE

My garden is the nearest I get to paradise.  It is my sanctuary. Years ago I went – I don’t know when – to see Painting Paradise, the Art of the Garden at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, with plant and garden paintings gathered by the royals over the centuries.   I loved the manuscripts of Islamic gardens with octagonal ponds and chenar (plane) trees, lovers and flowers (their deep symbolism barely mentioned in explanatory notes).  Ditto Rembrandt’s painting of Christ as a gardener, complete with trowel.   Ditto some medieval gardens. Then royal and aristocratic grandeur. ...
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SEDUM BLISS

No Chelsea Flower Show this year – the cloud of Covid still hangs over us. But the 2019 RHS Plant of the year was Sedum takimense Atlantis, and I bought two, and this summer Atlantis in its pot has been glorious, white and pale green shoots topped by flurries of tiny gold flowers.  In sun for only half the day, it has flowered for weeks and been a consolation for everything.  This photo I am sorry to say was taken towards the end of its glory.  The other Atlantis, in the front of a border, has not been happy.  I moved it to a pot. Now, to propagate Atlantis.  The happy fact of sedums is that...
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