This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
There must be many gardeners and others about the country who have lively recollections of and still feel an interest in the place so long and famously associated with the late Mrs Lawrence and her almost unrivalled collections of plants. Those who remember the Chiswick exhibitions of old - now living only in the records of a glorious past - must also have memories of the display Mrs Lawrence used to make in the days of her great popularity as an exhibitor. Some who worked there and gained a knowledge of the first rudiments of their profession at Ealing Park, others who have visited it at some time or the other, and many more who have only heard of the wealth of plants to be once seen there, and the breakfast-parties that used to draw together the elite of aristocratic and fashionable society, will all be interested in hearing again of the place, and knowing whether any of its former splendid reputation still survives. The block of plant-houses, the occupants of which used to excite the envy and wonder of the horticultural world, are gone, but there is no lack of glass at Ealing Park notwithstanding.
The plan of the flower-garden now engraved is on the site of the old flower-garden of Mrs Lawrence, and it occupies a piece of ground nearly square in shape on the south side of the site of the once famous plant-houses. When Mrs Lawrence resided here, the flower-garden contained twenty-nine pincushion beds set down very closely together. Mr William Cole, the gardener at Ealing Park, has altogether altered the details of this garden, and its present arrangements can now be seen by a reference to the accompanying plan.
The line of vases on the left hand of the plan (9) occupies a higher elevation than the flower-garden, which is reached by three flights of steps at different points. The vases are planted both for summer and winter display, and are always a pleasant feature of the garden. Starting from the bottom of the page, the line of vases runs almost directly west to east. The sloping bank of rockwork, which is continued all along on the north side of the flower-garden, is about 6 feet in height, and is covered with various Ivies, Arabis albida, Aubrietias, a variety of Sedums, Helianthemums, Alyssum saxatile, Iberis sempervirens, Corydalis lutea, etc.; and during summer there are various Peas and suchlike to lend their quota of effectiveness. This arrangement gives an almost unbroken succession of bloom, as something or the other continues almost to the time the charming soft-coloured Aubrietias unfold their blossoms in the early spring months. There are also two such pieces of rockwork set down at the angles immediately contiguous, marked 2. On the east, as also on the west sides, the garden is bounded by a wall, against which grow Tea - Roses and various creepers; and the herbaceous borders flanking the walls, with their lines of standard Roses, are rarely without some flowers.
A light iron fence forms the boundary on the south side of the garden, with shrubs planted next it, shutting it in from the pleasure-grounds outside. At 7 there is a glorious bower of Ivy, under and through which a walk leads to the pleasure-grounds; when the fountain in the centre of the garden (4) is playing, a peep of it can be obtained from the pleasure-grounds along a walk of considerable length. The lines marked 6 are gravel-walks about 5 feet in width, and the remainder of the groundwork is turf, with the flower-beds set down on it. In planting this garden, Mr Cole made a most judicious and excellent use of foliaged plants, and the result was a charming piece of soft, inviting, decorative gardening. The four beds round the fountain, forming the segments of a circular line, were thus filled: In one of them Coleus Verschaffeltii formed the lines of a chain of diamonds, the diamonds being filled with Mrs Pollock. In the centre of each (and there were four of them) was a fine plant of the silvery-leaved Centaurea candidissima.
The angles outside the diamond lines were filled with Gnaphalium lana-tum - a most useful silvery-foliaged bedding plant when kept within due bounds - and edged with blue Lobelias. The opposite bed had Mrs Pollock forming the diamond lines, and the Coleus the central masses, with the Centaurea as before. The angles were filled with blue Lobelia, edged with Echeveria secunda glauca. The reverse of these segment beds had circles of Coleus Verschaffeltii resting in a groundwork of Centaurea candidissima. One of them had a Dalkeith chain of golden feather Pyrethrum, edged with blue Lobelia. In the other the relative positions of these two were reversed, as the Pyrethrum here became the outer edging. The mode of planting the four beds behind these has now to be stated. In shape they represent irregular triangles with the points scolloped out. One had an oval centre of Centaurea gymnocarpa; round thisGrieve's Culford Rose Zonal Pelargonium, which was wanting in freedom of bloom; this was bounded by a diamond line of Iresine Herbstii, and next a diamond line of Golden-leaf Pelargonium, one of the very best of the golden-leaved section. The angles were filled in with blue Lobelia, and the whole edged with Gnaphal-nium lanatum.
The next bed had a cross of Coleus Verschaffeltii in the centre; next this similar lines of Flower of Spring Variegated Pelargonium, with blue Lobelia filling up the angles. The reverse bed had a cross of Iresine Herbstii, with Golden-leaf Pelargonium instead of Flower of Spring, and still edged with blue Lobelia. The last of this quartette of beds was to some extent the reverse of that first described. Centaurea gymnocarpa formed diamonds in the middle, and round it were diamond lines of Golden-leaf Pelargonium; then similar lines of Coleus Verschaffeltii, and next this Mrs Pollock variegated Zonal Pelargonium similarly planted; and, as before, the angles filled in with blue Lobelia.
GROUND-PLAN OF FLOWER-GARDEN AT EALING PARK, MIDDLESEX, THE RESIDENCE OF J. S. BUDGETT, ESQ.
2. Sloping banks of rock work.
5. Shrubbery borders.
7. Ivy bower.
8. Herbaceous border and lines of standard Roses.
9. Line of Vases. 10. Statuary.
The two circular beds in the corners at the right of the plan were nicely planted in the following manner: Each had two transverse lines in the form of an elongated letter S - in one instance the lines were formed of Christine Pelargonium restingon a circular mass of Gnaphalium ; in the other case the lines were formed of Golden-leaf Pelargonium resting on a mass of blue Lobelia. The circular beds on the other side were planted similarly with these just noticed. Filling up the ground-plan can be seen four other beds, square in shape, but with the angles scolloped out. In the centre of one of these was a kind of wedge of Abutilon Thompsoni, round this a broad band of Christine Pelargonium, then another broad band of Golden-leaf Pelargonium, with the angles scolloped out to suit the shape of the bed ; all margined with blue Lobelia. Another had a centre of four shields of Iresine Herbstii, very finely coloured and running between the blocks, filling up the spaces, and forming a line outside, there was Flower of Spring Pelargonium, the only variegated variety of this type grown here; next this a single line of Golden-leaf, edged with Heliotrope. Another of these beds had a central band of Lucius, which proves to be a grand bedding Pelargonium, of a fine and effective bright rose-coloured hue, and across this was thrown a diagonal line of Christine; the bed being filled up with clumps of Tagetes signata pumila on the east and west - and very fine and effective it was - and with Heliotrope on the north and south.
On the north side, the fourth bed was the reverse of that opposite to it, except that Lucius took the place of Christine. In a line with the fountain, east and west, are two pieces of statuary, marked 10; and in continuation of this line come two circular beds, with a fine stone vase and pedestal in the centre filled with Pelargoniums and Petunias. Round this in each instance was a fine bold band of Geranium Canariense, a species likely to prove useful for subtropical work, but which had not yet bloomed; in one instance this was edged with the variegated Periwinkle, in the other with the golden-tipped Stone-crop, Sedum acre aureum.
It will thus be seen that flowering plants were sparely used, while f oliaged plants were much brought into requisition. About the whole there was a pleasant softness, and an entire absence of that glare that makes many a flower-garden so offensive to the eye. Under the standard Roses, east and west of the garden, dwarf Asters were in full bloom, and looked extremely pretty.
The flower-garden is not the only feature of interest at Ealing Park. There is a nice lot of forcing and plant houses, in every one of which the condition of the inmates proves Mr Cole to be in the front rank of his profession. As a Grape-grower he has shown his skill at first-class shows by taking leading prizes; as a cultivator of specimen plants he has been equally successful. Other features of interest are the charming grounds, some fine ornamental trees, several coniferous plants planted by Mrs Lawrence, a fine avenue of Cedrus Deodara, etc., all of which tend to make the place at any time well worthy a visit.