Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Allow a Little Chaos to Blossom in Your Own Piece of Eden; Take Inspiration from Kate Winslet's New Film and Add a Dash of Wild Charm a la Versailles

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Allow a Little Chaos to Blossom in Your Own Piece of Eden; Take Inspiration from Kate Winslet's New Film and Add a Dash of Wild Charm a la Versailles

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

THIS Friday is the first ever National Open Gardens Day, in which gardens all over the country, including RHS Wisley and Hyde Hall, open their gates for free to encourage us all to get gardening.

It is also the day when A Little Chaos, the official movie of this week's National Gardening Week, opens in cinemas. Kate Winslet plays fictitious unknown garden designer Sabine de Barra, who is commissioned to create an outdoor ballroom within the royal gardens at Versailles by King Louis XIV's landscape architect, Andre Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts), who was, as we know, the master of symmetry.

However, when he visits De Barra to check out her own tiny garden in a converted stable, completely charmed, he proclaims: "This abundance of chaos... is your Eden?" and, of course, De Barra gets the gig.

That glimpse we have of her Eden of foxgloves growing cheek-by-jowl with arum lilies, of hanging lanterns and a shell-clad wall fountain is enchanting, and makes a great case for introducing a little chaos, a little individuality, into our own gardens.

You might, for instance, soften the lines of container topiary a lasting legacy of Versailles by planting bacopa around its feet to add a fresh, lacy, green-and-white ruffle that will last through summer and beyond. London clay is not ideal for French lavender, so like De Barra, grow it in generous terracotta pots, and keep them by the garden bench so you can run your fingers through the aromatic foliage.

A little chaos is charming, but a lot is not, so rout out the dockweed and introduce a few choicer weeds, allowing them to spread themselves, giving the garden an organic feel. Main contenders to bring in are the small pink-and-white daisy Erigeron karvinskianus, which frequents all the grand English gardens, yellow Welsh poppy and the dusky purple hanging flowers of Cerinthe major Purpurascens. Replace brambles with a small, thornless blackberry, such as Lowberry Little Black Prince (lubera.co. …

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