The New Lanark Roof Garden

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plants and flowers on New Lanark Roof Garden towards bell towerThe choice of plants for the garden was constrained by a number of practical limiting factors including Planning and Listed Buildings constraints. Equally, it was important to choose plants which would be hardy enough to survive in this lofty location, around 350 feet above sea-level. Although the Clyde Valley is relatively sheltered, and was once a major centre of horticulture and fruit-growing, this part of Scotland can experience late frosts. In recent years, the winters have tended to be milder, and it is unusual for New Lanark to have deep snow. The plants chosen by garden designer Douglas Coltart take account of all these factors, and combine together to provide a varied and attractive garden, all year round.

Yew (Taxus baccata) and Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) hedging have been selected to provide structure, and with the distinctive green balls of Box (Buxus sempervirens), form backdrops to the key areas of planting.

New Lanark Roof Garden - allium flower heads with wildlifeSome plants, such as lavender, Philadelphus, meadowsweet, rosemary, thyme, sweet woodruff and southernwood, have been chosen for their fragrant flowers or aromatic leaves, while the variegated Butterfly Bush Buddleia Davidii Harlequin, will also attract butterflies to its purple nectar-filled blooms. Ornamental grasses - among them Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima), Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea 'Karl Foerster') and Red Grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra') - have been planted to move and sway in the ever-present winds that filter over the garden space. Rare in the wild, where it grows in mountainous regions of Scotland, the Woolly Willow (Salix Lanata) is well suited to withstand windy conditions, has silvery-grey foliage and bears golden catkins in the spring.

Among other architectural species, a number of ornamental thistles have been selected for their ability to withstand windy conditions, as well as their dramatic flower-heads, which are attractive to bees, butterflies and other insects in summer. The blue-flowered Globe Thistle (Echinops bannaticus), and the magenta pink Ornamental Thistle (Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum') add their statuesque presence to the borders, while a Victorian favourite, Cardoon (Cynara Cardunculus), originally grown as a vegetable, has striking silvery green foliage topped by purple flowers. The thistle heads fade to golden brown, and may be left over the winter months to decorative effect.

Other plants chosen for winter interest include Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria Formosa), the versatile evergreen shrub Euonymous (Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety') and Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum) - the variety Heavy Metal being particularly appropriate for an industrial site! The winter-flowering shrub Mahonia Charity provides not only a welcome touch of soft yellow colour, but a delicate fragrance too.

New Lanark Roof Garden single poppy flowerSome plants might seem too tender to face the harsh winter winds and chilly frosts but herbaceous plants such as the Oriental Poppies (Papaver orientale 'Allegro') or Japanese Anemones (Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert') will only appear in the garden at the most favourable times of the year. Colour is important too, and there are some real stars, like the showy blue lace-cap blooms of the Tea of Heaven Hydrangea (Hydrangea Serrata ÒBluebirdÓ) and the rare yellow lilac (Syringa Vulgaris Primrose), while a splash of bright gold for summer days is provided by Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Herbstonne). The golden fine-leaved elder Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold' has creamy yellow flowers in spring, followed by scarlet berries and colourful foliage.

A complete list of the plants which were planted out in the garden in the Autumn of 2007 can be downloaded by clicking here.

LEADER - South Lanarkshire Rural PartnershipThis project is part-financed by the Scottish Government, European Community and the South Lanarkshire Rural Partnership LEADER 2007-2013 ProgrammeThe Scottish GovernmentThe European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - Europe investing in rural areas

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