The Orange Tip

mattcollinsgarden.co.uk

Category: writing

Ode to Echiums for the Guardian

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Two separate travel experiences during spring 2018 brought the Echium genus into focus for me. The first was a visit to Gran Canaria, and seeing so many varieties – some unique to the island – in flower along its ridges and ravines (pictured below). The second was a walk around the ‘desert’ landscape of Dungeness in the south east of England. Great drifts of viper’s bugloss (E. vulgare) were in flower all over the beach, and the colour was just spectacular (bottom image). Having grown tree echiums (E. pininana) at the Garden Museum for many years, and enjoyed their enormous bee-covered, monocarpic blooms, I suggested a piece for the Guardian covering the history and cultivation of the wider Echium genus (published 15.06.19 and can be read here).

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Echium decaisnei seen growing near Roque Nublo on Gran Canaria (April 2018)

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Echium vulgare (viper’s bugloss) growing wild in the grass scrub surrounding Dungeness (June 2018)

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Chelsea Flower Show 2019, Spectator Life

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A pleasure to visit RHS Chelsea 2019 yesterday for The Spectator Magazine, making sense of all the woodlands, wildernesses and environmental worries this year, and noting some very beautiful planting features. Among the highlights were various – and somewhat feral – forms of Rodgersia, Echium, Persicaria and Verbascum, pioneering plants of wonderfully rogue character.

As I concluded in the piece, ‘Show gardens of years past treated visitors to a spectacle of ornate, often innovative back gardens; inspiration that, at a push (and with money to burn), might be applied back home. Currently presented among the grand plots are depictions of yet wilder scenes, natural landscapes skilfully mirrored with light, sympathetic embellishment. Commendable or wildly off-brief, the Flower Show has responded in its own way to the current environmental conundrum, lamenting a paradise-increasingly-lost through Arcadian motifs reminiscent of 18th Century romanticism.’ In other words, a comfort blanket of bucolic British countryside amidst an unsettling time.

Read the full article here.

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New Book: FOREST, Walking Among Trees

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Exciting to finally see this thing on book shelves following its launch last week at Ink@84 bookshop in Islington. Two wonderful years stalking valleys, mountains, prairies and rivers for interesting and often irregular stories about ten familiar trees. Stunning photography by Roo Lewis.

FOREST Walking Among Trees is published by Pavilion Books, available from all big – and little – book stores.

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Hortus Journal: Courtyard of Curiosities

Cover article for a favourite garden journal, Hortus, writing about the Garden Museum’s recent redevelopment and resulting garden, designed by Dan Pearson.

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New Website

It feels a little strange coming back to the blog after so long; various exciting yet somewhat consuming commissions having taken precedence over the last couple of years, both gardens and garden writing. Good to return to this site though, and I hope to use it more frequently going forward for thoughts, images and little side-reflections regarding the wonderful world of horticulture and wild Nature.

I have now assembled my work for a new website, which can be viewed here: Matt Collins Garden.

Toast Travels

I’ve started writing monthly articles on plants and Nature for the lifestyle and fashion brand, Toast. The first piece looks at the wildflowers and wildlife of Caldey Island in Pembrokeshire, South Wales: Island Growing

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Hortus Article

Super pleased to have been asked to write an article for the spring edition of Hortus. Hortus is a fantastic journal of garden writing and I’ve been a fan for many years. Greg Barnes drew a lovely illustration of a Japanese anemone for the piece.

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New Book: My Tiny Flower Garden

Much of 2015/16 was spent writing a commissioned book for Pavilion Books on the subject of small flower gardens. Lots of fun to put together, working with amazing photographer, Roo Lewis. It’s now on the shelves!

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