We were honoured to have a visit from Alan Titchmarsh while being interviewed for The English Garden magazine. He was very enthusiastic about the Borders and particularly commented on Richard Wilford’s bold use of colour combinations in his design.
Monty Don also paid a visit while filming for Gardener’s World. He gave a glowing review of the Broad Walk and urged people to visit, with the advice that it was a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ to see such a display.
It was encouraging to see so many different species of bees visiting the plants, in fact, Bed 6 was designed specifically to include plants that are attractive to bees, although we found they didn’t discriminate and were foraging the whole length of the Broad Walk. They were particularly attracted to Echinacea species (coneflower), Salvia species (there are 13 different sages in the borders), Cirsium rivulare and Helenium species (sneezeweed).
The Hive installation, with an impressive view over the Broad Walk, highlights the importance of bee pollination for life on earth and the loss of bee populations worldwide. The bee activity on the Broad Walk beautifully illustrated pollination in action.
We’ve had our fair share of plant damage this year: squirrels certainly know how to decimate new Crocosmia foliage in no time and Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ suffered the worst attacks.
We devised a Heath Robinson method to help deter them – take some small bamboo canes and string and criss-cross these through the plants. The squirrels are apparently spooked by the string or twine and will go elsewhere. This has worked on one patch already so we intend to roll out this method next year in all affected areas. Watch this space – we will report back on our success rate.
Anecdotally, slugs are not that much of a problem at Kew because, as one horticulturist said, the predominantly sandy soil here is off-putting to them.
Slug and snail eggs were found on the beds this autumn and we kept them uncovered to provide a tasty snack for birds and other wildlife, while keeping the next generation of slugs and snails in check.
Finally, our resident peacock who we call Eric, brazenly strutted through the Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ on a collision course with a Roscoea purpurea bloom whose head he tetchily snapped off in full view of the large audience he’d attracted. We wondered if he felt bitter about something!
- Maija Ross and Lucy Bell -
Kew horticulturists, Great Broad Walk Borders team