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Written by:
Trinity Hall
12 Apr 2023

From time to time even the bountiful herbaceous border that surrounds Trinity Hall’s Old Library becomes a little tired and needs refreshing.

Samantha Hartley, Head Gardener at Trinity Hall, tells us all about the process and shares some of her plans.

“The gardeners decided recently that the time had come and so, once the gardeners had stripped the old planting from the beds, saving plants for future use and enriching the soil in preparation for the new scheme, I set about drawing up a new planting scheme.

“First a simple outline of the beds was drawn to scale.  Then it was necessary to envisage the space and the plants within it.  The rug blobs represent a 50cm, 70cm and 100cm diameter circle.  This enabled me to calculate how many plants would be needed in each blob and transcribe them onto the plan.  I cut them out on scaled paper discs so I could reshuffle until I had the scheme as I wanted it.  Then I plotted them permanently onto the plan.

“Having calculated the new plants required , we ordered them in and set about planting up earlier this week.  About half of the plants have been returned to the beds and others which came out will be used elsewhere in the gardens.  We are really looking forward to seeing the Old Library Bed in its new clothes this summer.

“What a lucky gardener I am! The Old Library is such a beautiful back drop for a herbaceous border and the old rose which climbs up to the first floor windows is a beautiful shade of apricot which complements the ancient brick work beautifully.  Have a look at it in June!

“Although we could have concentrated solely on choosing plants that would tolerate the increasingly dry summers and more recently the arctic winters, we decided to choose a colour palette and have some fun!  So on the gable end of the building, to harmonise with the colours of the beds around Latham Lawn there will be shades of rich blue and burgundy off set with white, pale pink and mauve.

“But round the corner, on the south facing front of the library, we are going exotic with tender plants with large leaves and rich red, orange and yellow colours.  We are planting helenium, rudbeckia, sunflowers and cannas as well as Ricinus communis (known as castor oil plant – though absolutely not edible) and fatsia for their beautiful leaves.”