Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Garden design

A year ago I have started a garden & planting design project in Cheshire.
The property consists of a large rockery built 15 years ago where the planting was lacking in colour and interest.

We have stripped 95% of the former planting and also landscaped the area at the top of the rockery to make room for a wildflower meadow with easy access and paths.

I like to use a matrix of several species of perennials but also to play with chance and chaos by using self-sowing biennials (like the Digitalis and Centranthus) which make the design ebb and flow through the years. I also believe a designer should work with the clients for at least a year or two after planting, to help edit, maintain and develop the planting scheme.

A garden is not a painting or a sculpture that is finished at a given point. A garden is a living creation, is something that changes over time, with some species outperforming others and thus in constant need of attention.

This is the result.

Perennials planting design 

Wild species-rich meadows

Centranthus ruber - Astrantia major cv

Planting design using perennials and self-sowing species

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Plant highlights of 2016

Quite a cliche but on the first day of 2017 I am looking back at the year that's just gone and my highlights in chronological order are:

Cornwall in March. No year should be without at least one pilgrimage to Cornwall, one of my favourite places in the UK for amazing plants and gardens, and as we discovered this year in Mevagissey, scrumptious food.

Zantedeschia White Giant

Spain in April. It was just a short 4 day holiday at the sea-side but I did manage to find a few wild plants flowering not far from the beach in Sitges (Aphyllanthes, Ophrys fusca aff., Gladiolus, Urospermum, Anagallis etc).
Aphyllanthes monspeliensis

RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. There is nothing in the horticultural world that compares with helping at Chelsea. In 2016 the British Pteridological Society celebrated 125 years since it was founded, and they have put up a fern display (http://ebps.org.uk/bps-stand-chelsea-flower-show-2016/) and I was fortunate enough to help for a few days building and manning the stand. It is amazing to see how in a few days gardens and displays seem to just materialize from thin air. The amount of work that goes into them is just unbelievable.

My plant of 2016 must be Berkheya purpurea, that we used on the Hardy Plant Society stand at Tatton flower show in July. Our What is a hardy plant? educational display was awarded a Silver-Gilt medal.

Berkheya purpurea

It came as quite a surprise but I was invited to write a few thoughts for the Garden News weekly for one of their August issues.

Even though I have traveled a fair amount in 2016, my plant trip of the year must surely be the Alpine Garden Society tour to the Peloponnese (for a more detailed account have a look at http://www.alpinegardensociety.net/tours/reports/AGS+Peloponnese+Tour+live/132/) . Led by Christopher Grey-Wilson, the group of AGS enthusiasts managed to see over 30 species of autumn flowering bulbs, almost another 100 species of plants in flower and of course many archaeological sites in amazing scenery.

The top 3 plants of the trip would be the tremendously variable Cyclamen graecum (all the leaves in this selection I gathered on one small island near Nafpaktos), Colchicum cupani and Sternbergia lutea in the millions on the Vathi peninsula.

Cyclamen graecum foliage

Colchicum cupani

Sternbergia lutea on Vathi

Another highlight for me was the Alpine Garden Society autumn conference in Stratford-upon-Avon where I was invited to give a talk on the alpine plants of Romania, as a taster to the AGS tour I will lead in July 2017 (http://www.alpinegardensociety.net/tours/forthcoming/Romania+Summer+/144/)

Christopher Grey-Wilson introducing me as a speaker at the AGS Conference

And finally I am happy to have managed to edit another issue of the Saxifrage magazine that was just delivered to the Society's members. This year saw a very good mixture of articles from far and wide: the UK, Canada, Germany and Holland. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

What is a hardy plant?

This was the second year I've been in charge of putting together a display at the RHS Tatton flower show on behalf of the Hardy Plant Society and my choice was to explain What is a hardy plant.

We used posters, fliers and a colour coordinated labeling system to explain the way plant hardiness is influenced by temperature but also by microclimate, soil, age, provenance and many other factors.

Apart from a much appreciated silver-gilt medal, the highlight of the last week was the fact that Carol Klein filmed on our display, talking about hardy plants.

And of course I could not miss the opportunity to take a picture with my favourite TV presenter.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Plants and castles in Transylvania

garden talk

I must admit I have always been rather proud of my Transylvanian heritage. "The land beyond the forests" as terra ultra silvam translates is still a haven for wildlife and this talk I am preparing now is an attempt to make our plants and landscapes better known to the UK plant and garden enthusiasts.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Year in pictures 2015

50 shades of green
The Hardy Plant Society display I put up at Tatton RHS Flower show

James Wong interviewing me about Plant Heritage on Country File

Best plants of the year: Lunaria annua cultivars

Best garden abroad: Marimurtra Botanical Garden on Costa Brava in Catalonia

Best garden in the UK: Bodnant in North Wales

A few words about myself

Razvan Chisu
My name is Razvan Chisu, I was born in Transylvania and I was fortunate enough to grow up in a Botanical Garden where I spent most of my free time as a teenager passionate about plants.

I then went on a 5 year long course in general Horticulture with a BSc degree and a 2 year Masters of Science course in greenhouse vegetable and ornamentals production at my home university: USAMV Cluj-Napoca.

After graduation I worked for 2 years at the Herbarium in the Botanical Garden in Cluj, Transylvania. Botany was one of my favorite courses at university and working in the herbarium further cemented my interest in plant hunting. This is Romania’s largest herbarium with dried specimens from all over the world, some three centuries old.

After that I started working as a freelance gardener for various clients in Transylvania and lately in the UK. I have designed and built two new gardens in Transylvania and I've also been looking after many other gardens.

My interests range from minute alpine plants and bulbs, succulents, fruit and heirloom vegetables, ferns and orchids to perennials and shrubs.
I am very keen on plant propagation, from getting difficult alpines to germinate to twin-scaling snowdrops and root cuttings of various perennials.

I am also interested in food crops, especially less well known species like oca, quinoa, amaranth, cucamelon, yacon, heirloom varieties of tomatoes and chillies and also wild foraged plants. I suppose it’s the plant explorer in me that wants to try and taste and collect as many different plants as possible.

Apart from work I like to be involved in the community and I am currently serving on the committees of Hardy Plants Society Cheshire and Friends Group, Cheshire Plant Heritage Group, AGS Cheshire and The Saxifrage Society and also I’m a member of : Scottish Rock Garden Club and the British Pteridological Society.

In 2015 I have been appointed National Plant Collections Coordinator in Cheshire with Plant Heritage.
Saxifrage Magazine
Issue 23

As the new editor of The Saxifrage Magazine I have tried a complete overhaul of the layout and design of this publication. The latest issue just came out in December 2015. One of the articles I wrote some time ago for the Magazine can be found here:

Plants from Transylvania are of particular interest to me and I often give talks on the botanical and cultural gems from this area of Romania. The next one will be in February 2016 for Plant Heritage in Knutsford.