It was a decidedly un-tropical start to the one-day course at Capel Manor, Enfield, on Saturday 14th May as a group of hardy specimens from across the Guilds and Livery Companies gathered to learn more about tropical, sub-tropical and late-flowering border planting. Organised by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners (Past Master Nicholas Evans is Director of Estates at Capel Manor), and with expertise on-hand throughout from one of the Manor’s Senior Gardener Tom Wheatcroft, the morning’s somewhat cool conditions were offset by plentiful coffee and a dazzling presentation of aspirational case-studies inspired by the deep and colourful borders at Great Dixter in East Sussex.
As the weather warmed up, the group toured the Manor gardens both great and (in deference to the Clerk’s humble window box) small, and, following an excellent lunch, the outlook was optimistic as we got stuck into the practicalities of building borders to provide colour and interest throughout the year.
Following an early and unseemly tussle over a variegated canna, the group was split into a number of fiercely competitive factions, to select and arrange plants ranging from vast bananas to diminutive begonias and fledgling morning glories. The Clerk and his guest were particularly industrious, winning praise from professionals and amateurs alike for their sympathetically-arranged display and enthusiastic digging as the arrangements were planted out. As the day drew to a close over tea and cake, and the shopping lists and anecdotes grew ever longer and improbable, it was time to thank our hosts and to promise to return in the near future to make sure that our hard work had paid off.