The Californian border contains some good specimens of ceanothus with their splendid blue flowers. These are joined by other Californian plants and backed by a protective belt of trees such as Alnus cordata and a variety of eucalyptus to the northern edge.

The Desert Wash is designed to resemble parts of Arizona where it probably only rains once or twice a year, but when it does rain it floods and great rushes of water channel through the landscape tossing rocks and stones asunder leaving behind dry channels and islands where succulent plants flourish. The real work in making a garden such as this starts some way below the surface where we break up the sub-soil and incorporate lots of gravel. Then we build layer upon layer of gravel and gravel mixed with soil, the aim being to keep this area very free draining especially during the winter. Many of the plants grown here are able to tolerate some cold provided they remain dry at the root. Over four hundred tonnes of flint of various sizes have been used in the construction of this area so far and the work ongoing with improvements and additional experimental planting.

The plants that are growing here include agaves, aloes, puyas, beschonaria, dasylirion, various cacti and other related plants. We are always experimenting and pushing the boundaries.

One of the most thrilling parts of the garden is the cornfield, in its season, which contains a mixture of the cornfield weeds of yesteryear evoking memories of our happy childhood when the world seemed a better place. To quote the late Christo Lloyd ‘One of the most effective deliberate cornfield displays that I have seen is at the Old Vicarage, East Ruston. Here the owners, Graham Robeson and Alan Gray, omit corn cockle from the standard mix. In fact they adjust their mix, varying the proportions of each ingredient according to the performance of the previous display. If, for instance, cornflowers were weak, they add more of that. In some cases they need no seed at all, as there is sufficient seed bank in the soil from previous seasons’. The Cornfield is to the South of the Desert Wash.

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