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27 November 2014
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Silver Gilt Flora Medal

Carex testacea

An attractive evergreen sedge that forms dense leafy tussocks which become strongly coloured orange and bronze in a sunny position. It has a graceful arching habit and looks superb as a single specimen in a blue-glazed pot. Arrange a few plants together in a natural drift in the border for the best effect.

Acer palmatum
Acer palmatum
Japanese maple

The delicate lobed foliage of the Japanese maple turns red, orange and yellow in autumn. Give it a prominent spot where its ornamental qualities can be admired, with shelter from both late frosts and hot sunshine. The best colour is produced on neutral to acid soil, but it will tolerate some lime. A good, low maintenance, ornamental tree.

Betula utilis
Betula utilis
Himalayan birch

A favourite multi-purpose tree, the Himalayan birch looks stunning all year round. Pendulous catkins appear in spring, with the mid-green foliage of summer turning gold in autumn. It lights up grey winter days with peeling strips of papery bark, varying from creamy-white through to copper and brown.

Common box
Buxus sempervirens
Common box

Common box is a vigorous, evergreen, bushy, upright shrub or small tree. It has small, rounded to oblong, glossy dark green leaves. Its dense habit makes it ideal for hedging or screening and it can be closely clipped into different shapes. An excellent plant to make into topiary, as you can leave a smart finish after trimming. It's best to choose the dwarf form of this shrub for low hedging to create a knot or parterre.

Allium hollandicum
Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'
Ornamental onion

The tall flowers of 'Purple Sensation' appear in summer, showing off rounded heads full of deep violet flowers. These alliums are perfect for a sunny border. It is best to remove the immature seed-heads as the seedlings tend to have paler flowers. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in recognition of its outstanding excellence.

Play videoWatch a video tour and interview with the garden designer.

Design inspiration

Diarmuid Gavin"Some years ago, I was asked by a mature gentleman to design something 'interesting' for his retirement. He didn't want to do too much gardening work, but still wanted something stimulating he could play around with. I began imagining how I would like to spend the autumn years with my own wife and came up with the idea for a his and hers studio. Sun streaming in through a modern glass structure with a deck and swing chairs, like on 'Golden Pond', looking out over a stretch of water. Plants would have to be architectural and reflect well in the water. Silver birch and shrubs such as clipped box balls, tropical looking eriobotrya, acanthus with its striking panicles of purple and white, ornamental grasses and of course, the centre piece of the garden, a multi-stemmed acer."

Designer, Diarmuid Gavin

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