This is another of Lesley's creations, wrapped along the side of the conservatory and built in 1997. It is bounded on one side by a willow hedge and a larch-lap fence on the other. The main feature is the dry river bed, which is planted with a range of plants which look as if they are better suited to warmer climes although they do well in our cool garden. Lesley painted pebbles in this garden and used them to highlight some of the plants in the riverbed. This is a really effective way to showcase plants such Ophiopogon nigrescens and Carex comans 'Frosted Curls'. In addition to this there are long lengths of corkscrew metal rod painted the same colour as the pebbles, stuck into the riverbed as a form of sculpture.

A dry river bed is usually found in areas which, for the best part of the year, are very dry and arid, but in the rainy season become flooded for a short period of time. As you can imagine these are mostly gravel interspersed with rocks. It can create a very striking feature and as the plants used are mulched with gravel, it's very easy to maintain.

Along the larch-lap fence, which is north facing, Lesley has planted a range of climbers amongst which are several clematis. Also, along the fence, are parthenocissus, pyracantha, honeysuckle and Garrya elliptica (with long grey tassels late in the season).

In 2008, Lesley re-homed a number of plants from one of our herbaceous trials. After lifting a selection of crocosmia and hemerocallis, she planted them throughout the dry river bed. Both of these plant types have strappy leaves which fits in with the theme here. They also have flowers that are more in the hot range of the colour spectrum, being a mix of reds, yellow and oranges.

Some of Lesley's favourite plants for a dry river bed include:

Celmisia spectabilis - one of the most cheerful plants in the dry river bed with its white, daisy-like flowers. The leaves are a lovely feature as well, giving off a silvery sheen due to the soft hairiness.

Stipa arundincea - commonly called Pheasant's Tail Grass, this evergreen grass has lovely rust and bronze tints in the autumn. It reaches about 1m in height and has a soft, flowing movement in the wind.

Festuca 'Elijah Blue' - this low, mounded grass adds a fantastic blue colour to any border, but works especially well as it can deal with the dry conditions.

Carex 'Evergold' - another colourful grass, this one has a golden stripe down the middle of each blade. It has a graceful habit that softens the gravel and rocks as the blades arch over top.

Sisyrinchium striatum 'Aunt May' - this herbaceous perennial has strappy, grey-green leaves with a cream margin. In the summer it produces tall flower spikes of pale yellow/cream flowers.