The Garden Associates
Garden report for St James’s Square
Beyond a shadow of a doubt we can all say, and hopefully agree, that the gardens of St James’s Square over the past year have grown from strength to strength. Horticulturally, many of the plantings from the past few years are really starting to mature, slightly changing the garden’s aesthetic but in a very positive way. This horticultural maturity has given the garden a certain gravitas, showing it to be a serious contender as one of London’s top green spaces. We know of our success in the London-wide ‘Large Public Square’ competition run by the London Garden Society, attaining yet another Gold last year. It should be remembered that these competitions are judged by RHS judges to RHS criteria, so Gold does not necessarily mean first place (although we were) it means we reached a certain standard - infact more than 80% of the potential marks awarded, so no mean feat.
During this year we continued to increase our stocks in the central herbaceous beds, always with an eye for the unusual. We planted a new pink allium called ‘Pink Jewel’ so, instead of the usual purple headed onions on display we have pink ones. We also planted unusual foxtail lilies (out now) and a fine selection of the Turks-cap Martagon lilies which look sensational. We also plant with a view to successional colour and interest and we are now really achieving this. One can go into the garden on any day of the year and find something of colour and interest. 200 foxgloves were recently planted which will self seed and perpetuate for years to come. Giant Cardiocrinum are now flowering. These lilies from the Himalayas, can reach up to 10 feet high and have beautiful, scented white trumpet flowers. They stop so many people in their tracks, as indeed does our giant dahlia, Dahlia Imperialis which at the end of last summer reached around 12 feet high. The sound of cameras clicking was a familiar noise in the tropical area all summer long.
This tropical area so favoured by many visitors now has a rival area for visitor affection. The north east corner, always shady and dry has now been transformed into a wonderful woodland walk. I was speaking to a
visitor last week who said he walked along the woodland bark path on a daily basis, it made him forget he was in central London. For those of you who haven’t seen it, George asked the tree surgeons when felling the diseased London Plane, to cut the main stem into substantial rings. These were moved over to the woodland area and sunk to make a rustic path that runs parallel to the main path. Woodland plantings followed, such as Acers, hellebores and ferns. To give a dramatic effect we sunk a tank into the ground to create a small bog garden to accommodate a giant leaved Gunnera. So far it’s looking good and the plants are thriving. So we are very pleased to be able to recycle our old plane tree into the garden and have received much praise for doing so from a couple of members of the public who were initially appalled at us removing a tree - even if it could have fallen on someone’s head and killed them!
We are now starting to prepare for the exciting installation of the new railings. There has to be a great deal of cutting back and removal of plants especially at the south end where wall renovation will take place. To be honest, these old plants are very much in the amenity planting style and are well past their sell by date. The gaps they leave will allow us to take advantage of some sunny areas and make the square more attractive from the outside.
In conclusion, the garden is progressing nicely. Horticulturally, it is in fine shape and we receive many compliments from some very knowledgeable folk on a daily basis. This would not be possible without the trust and support of the trustees. So, on behalf on myself and the many thousands of appreciative garden users, thank you.