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Aubretia Envy

I’ve been doing a considerable amount of travelling recently for work, which has involved passing through a number of rather chocolate-box villages in Wiltshire. There are lots of thatched cottages built with honey-coloured stone, rather like in the Cotswolds. But what has really caught my attention is the gardens of a number of the cottages. They have low stone walls fronting the main road, with a massive abundance of aubretia tumbling over the walls, turning them bright purple. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I’ve got a major case of Aubretia Envy.

I’ve been trying to grow aubretia in the garden for years. It’s an alpine plant that should cope with poor soil, and I thought it would grow ok in the holes in the concrete blocks that formed the retaining walls to the terraces. One year I planted about 150 aubretia plants each in its own hole in the blocks. But they never thrived, and I never got the cascading walls of purple that I’d hoped for.

Aubretia struggling in the ex-water-feature

When I had the garden landscaped after Christopher died, the builders picked some of the less sickly-looking saxifrage and aubretia plants and transplanted them to the rockery that is all that is left of what was once a greatly unloved water feature. They haven’t died, and the aubretia must have at least a dozen flowers on it. But it’s hardly been a cascading success. On a more positive point – I’ve now got five daffodils in the garden, so Spring has arrived if a month or so late!