KG contributor Steve Neal extols the virtues of his favourite Chelsea garden and being a keen veg grower it had to contain some edibles!
The garden that caught my eye at Chelsea this year was The Seedlip Garden, designed by Catherine MacDonald. What is unusual is that all the plants in the garden are members of the pea family.
When you look at this garden the size of this family very quickly comes home to you. For as well as the garden pea, Pisum sativum, you have the broad bean, the snow pea and the sugar snap, in greens and purples.
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Rising up above from these are the spires of lupins in purple and yellow. While at the base you have both the dark flowering clover of Trifolium purpureum and those with variegated foliage.
Then there are the shrubs and tree including the spectacular crimson threadflower and the carob bush (Ceratonia siliqua). See main picture.
As well as the variety within the pea family, the garden also shows how different members of the family have been bred for different purposes, whether its decorative or culinary, and of course scientific.
The garden references the geneticist and monk Gregor Mendel, who discovered the basic principles of heredity through experiments on 28,000 pea plants in the 1850s and 60s and who is now considered one of the fathers of modern genetics.
The work of Dr Calvin Lamborn, the father of the sugar snap pea, is also highlighted. In 1969 he crossed a rogue garden pea with a snow pea and 10 years later the sugar snap pea was born.
The humble garden pea, they say. But it’s time to dispense with that adjective. Humble no longer, the garden shows that peas can strut their stuff and hails their influential role in the realm of garden plants.
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