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The Garden Associates

Garden report for St James’s Square


Well this has certainly been the year of ‘the railings’ - the final planning, the funding (don’t mention the funding!), the installation and soon, the completion.  I must admit that when I first heard about replacing the railings I did think, we’ve already got railings, what a waste of money.  How wrong was I?  The new installation is stunning and I think almost stop you in your tracks.  These are a landmark development  in the illustrious history of St James’s Square, so very well done to the tenacious hard work of the trustees to accomplish this.


Horiculturally, as always gardens have steadily carried on improving.  Previous plantings are now maturing and the various ‘rooms’ of the garden becoming more apparent and stars in their own right.  The tropical corner exhibits some amazing specimens and its unique micro-climate has allowed us to grow plants successfully much to the amazement of many knowledgeable visitors.


In stark contract the North East corner is now developing into a very atmospheric woodland walk.  The specimen shrubs and trees are now maturing so this year we have been ‘icing the cake’.  Little gems which catch your eye have been planted.  The exquisite Turks cap lilies or Martagen lilies have added a colourful twist to this area.  Unusual (of paramount importance - unusual!) ferns, ground cover and spring bulbs have been planted together with the old perennial favourites of Asarum, Arum and cyclamen.  As I have mentioned before, by using cyclamen coum and cyclamen hederafolium together, we achieve almost six months of jewel like flowers throughout the winter.


The central parterred herbaceous beds once again gave a magnificent show.  Early in the season the 1600 tulips herald the spring and then with our successional planting of herbaceous perennials they remain colourful until well beyond leaf fall.  We are very aware of the new threat of Box tree caterpillar and are always vigilant as these little critters could eat all the buxus parterres in a fortnight.  We regularly inspect plus we use pheromone traps and selective  insecticides to keep them at bay.  This is the only spray we use in the garden as these caterpillars are poisonous and have no natural predators.  All other insect pests seem to kept in line by our ever increasing bird population and I don’t just mean pigeons!

That’s one thing we have really noticed after returning from the lockdown, the amount of bird life in the garden has really increased.  Hopefully the buttress of indigenous hedgerow - hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, hazel and wild rose - we have planted will soon become favoured nesting sites.


When the railings are finished there will be an amount of remedial work to undertake.  This is primarily in the south west corner (the stag corner) where the retaining wall had to be rebuilt.  Now this is a really sunny part of the garden and now those boring shrubs have gone, we would like to plant a framework of draught tolerant shrubs and a small tree and then mass plant with colourful annuals and perennials.  This will make this really prominent corner really pretty when people approach from Pall Mall.  Now we have the railings its important that the square looks as impressive from the outside as is does on the inside.


So, in conclusion, even after a period of ‘lockdown’ the garden has survived admirably and is well on its way back to its former glory a couple of months ago.  We have screwed another Gold Level, 1st Place award to the compound fence to compliment the others, an unprecedented fifth win!


20th May 2020

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