Last summer on our way to Scotland we stopped in the ancient market town of Ely to see the cathedral. Ely’s was one of the first of the Gothic cathedrals, and a trip from Cambridge through Ely, Lincoln and then finally to York allows you to witnesses the full architectural maturation of the English Gothic style. But as fate was have it, the cathedral was closed: Netflix had decided that Ely would be a great stand in for Westminster in its new series Monarchy, and place was totally roped off for filming. Luckily however, as a totally unexpected consolation prize, I stumbled across this magnificent little garden in the shadow of the cathedral close.
This tiny space — and tiny it was, I doubt it measured much more 10 x 30′ — was literally packed with plants. Most were in pots, and almost all were either in flower, about to flower, or had some other striking characteristic such a boldly variegated foliage. I show you these pictures because this is the one type of garden, the collector’s garden, that can and does break all the standard rules of landscape design: there’s no real focus, there’s no axis, the space is cramped and over-utilized, the design totally lacks a color scheme and a half a dozen more. It is a collection, not a landscape. But it works thanks to the quirky passion of its owner, in the same way some over-the-top avant-garde artist will comfortably wear an outfit to a party that you and I would hesitate even to try on in the privacy of our own homes.
So today’s lesson is that “if you’ve got, flaunt it.”
And if you don’t, best to abide by the rules like the rest of us.