365 Days of Colour – Nick Bailey

Tuesday 18th October was an evening to remember.  The village hall was packed with members and visitors all eager to see and hear Nick Bailey, a regular contributor on BBC 2’s Gardeners’ World.  This programme is, for many keen gardeners, a must on a Friday evening – there is always something to be learnt.  Tonight was no exception as we learnt loads!  Nick is a garden designer who, in 2016, won a silver gilt medal for his design on Main Avenue at Chelsea Flower Show.  He is also a former head gardener of the Chelsea Physic Garden.  Nick took as his theme 365 Days of Colour in Your Garden – the title of his latest book.  He illustrated his talk with outstanding photos taken from the book.  Nick explained that he would be talking about the science and art of working with colour, horticultural techniques, plants and doing less work to get more colour into our gardens – the last had considerable appeal for the audience …

Nick posed the question of what we mean by colour, painting onto a green canvas in our gardens, he discussed the subtle tones and hues used in nature.  He explored the art and science of colour and how plants have evolved in different ways to attract   insects through the way in which they sparkle and glisten and direct the pollinators to the nectar source by the way their petals are coloured.  Colour affects human beings as well, both emotionally and physically.  For example cooler colours lead to a drop in heart rate and orange environments trigger more activity.  Colours affect each other and Nick illustrated this with the colour wheel.  He discussed simultaneous contrast, complimentary colours and triadic colour combinations and illustrated these phenomenon with plants.  We can all appreciate the joy of vivid orange crocosmia when allied with brilliant blue agapanthus – the effect is stunning.  Nick discussed  extracting elements of a key plant and repeating this for effect.  He spoke about the importance of white to highlight and add sparkle.

Nick went on to talk about gardening techniques and extending seasonality. He      discussed dead heading and the “Chelsea Chop” – a pruning technique whereby       herbaceous plants are cut down by half around the time of Chelsea Flower Show in order to increase the amount of flowers on a shorter stem later in the year.  Nick spoke about successional sowing.  He suggested sowing a central circle with seed, then a couple of weeks later another ring of sowing and two weeks on another sowing so that as the flowers faded from the first sowing they would be overtaken and masked by the second and subsequent sowings to provide interest over a longer period.  He suggested pruning Viticella clematis and dogwood Midwinter Fire every two years instead of the recommended one in order to produce more flowers on the clematis and longer coloured stems on the dogwood – thereby enhancing the colour in the garden.

There were suggestions for plants which produced flowers for many months like Erysimum Bowles Mauve, Geranium Rozanne and Geum Totally Tangerine amongst others.  Nick particularly recommended Rosa Chinensis Bengal Crimson which     produces flowers all year round.  Nick is a great advocate of successional planting and particularly planting things which go on, under, through and over other plants so that when one plant’s flowers fade something else is there to take its place. 

There were lots of questions from the audience which Nick answered very effectively and with good humour – including the identification of a specimen in a plastic bag.  He signed copies of his new book which was purchased by lots of people.  We very much enjoyed Nick’s presence at this our special meeting to celebrate 30 years plus 2 of Biddenham Gardeners’ Association and a special thank you as well to our many visitors – we hope you will join us again.  And a final thank you to everyone who  provided a cake – they all looked so delicious and to the many helpers who served teas and washed up!

Please join us next month on Tuesday 22nd November when Joe Sharman will be talking about the Autumn Flowers of the Peloponnese.  The meeting will be open to all members, new members and visitors.  We look forward to seeing you then.   

                                                                                                          Linda Truscott  

New members and visitors are always welcome.  For more information contact:     Linda Truscott on 01234 270747


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