Arley Hall’s head gardener Gordon Baillie reflects on what plants mean to him and asks you to do the same ..

THERE’S no doubt our senses can stimulate long-lost thoughts, feelings and memories.

So it makes sense that our gardens – with their beautiful colours and scents – can act as a reminder of times gone by.

When I was recently asked what plants I would take with me to a desert island the first ones that sprung to mind had all played a part in my life and career.

I mention this because it would be worth you using a moment to take stock and think about the plants that mean something to you.

A bit of reflection is good for the soul so on the next sunny day – admittedly this could be a while – sit back and spare a thought for the flowers and shrubs that have made a difference to your life.

If I were to be stuck on a desert island one of the plants I would like to have with me is a potato.

Winsford Guardian:

It was seeing my dad grow potatoes as a boy that sparked an interest that has lasted a lifetime. For a 10-year-old, it was a magical thing to see the potatoes grow, we’d have bucketloads by the end of the year, and they tasted great.

I’d also want to have a delphinium with me on that island. They are a quintessential English plant and would always remind me of the gardens at Arley Hall.

Another popular one would be Busy Lizzies even though I have grown millions in my lifetime. They are a reminder of my time working in commercial nurseries when they made up 50 per cent of the bedding plants we produced.

I’d also like to have an apple tree so that I could make cider. This would serve two purposes, one would be I could drink the cider. The other would be that it would occupy some time as I worked how to pulverize and strain the apples.

All these plants occupy a place in my mind and heart and, if I was marooned, I would love to have them as a reminder of the good times.


You should already be looking at what plants need staking. At Arley we have been doing this for the past month as the plants, especially among the herbaceous border, make themselves known.

You need to be doing this before they fall over and, if you’re wondering which ones need staking, think of it like this: If they fell over last year they will probably fall over again.

So, get out there and get on with the job before it is too late.