A Six Nations Border


It’s the time of year when my attention turns to my other love – rugby union and the the start of the Six Nations. However, the garden is never far away from my thoughts, so, for a bit of fun, I thought I’d devise a plant collection in celebration.

For anyone in the dark, this tournament takes place between the four home nations plus France and Italy. Our home teams all have horticultural emblems, which got me thinking! About coming up with a themed border.

If you didn’t know, I’m a Scot, living in England with an English husband. Our son, born in Scotland, considers himself, primarily, a Scot. Imagine our household on the day of the Calcutta cup! (The fixture between Scotland and England)

So, I make no apologies for starting with Scotland!



Obviously, the thistle. Onopordum acanthus – the Scots, or Cotton thistle. It’s a biennial that grows to 3 metres tall, with felted, spiny leaves and its characteristic purple tufts of flowers. Stunning and architectural!

Closely followed, of course, by England.



Aah! The Rose of England! So well loved by we gardeners. Rosa gallica officinalis – Apothecary’s rose or the Red rose of Lancaster. This, merged with the White Rose of Yorkshire, became the Tudor rose, which is the English national symbol.



Ireland’s emblem is the shamrock. Basically clover, which is not overly desirable in the garden, being invasive and a bit of a pest, it may not be the best choice for a border, but within the same family, we have trifoliums and oxalis, some of which make worthy garden plants. Instead, I chose Oxalis tetraphylla “Iron Cross”, which, although not a clover (it has 4 leaves – lucky?), is related. It has interesting purple splashed foliage with delicate sprays of red flowers.



Here, we have choices. Should it be the leek or the daffodil? Both seem to be applicable. And throw into the equation the “Prince of Wales feathers” which is actually on the shirt. But nobody sports the “feathers” in the crowd. It’s always leeks and daffodils. So, which one? It has to be the daffodil, for a border. The selection is immense, but while perusing the huge list of daffodils on offer, I spotted this one – “Triple Crown”. Well, that had to be the one! (The triple crown is awarded to the home team that wins against the other three.)

That’s the four home nations. Now it gets tricky! France and Italy don’t use botanical emblems for their teams – France uses a cockerel and Italy their national flag. So it’s down to me to decide for them!



France is, for whatever reason, associated with garlic and onions. So I went for that emblem, choosing a more decorative member of the allium family. Which one? Why not “Mont Blanc” – France’s highest mountain? After all, they will have a mountain to climb!

Lastly, (and that’s no reflection on where they may end up!)



Here I struggled to come up with an appropriate emblem, so opted for Phlomis italica, just because I like it! I saw this plant a.k.a Italian sage, on a fellow bloggers post and fell in love with its gorgeous soft pink flowers set against felted silvery green leaves. Of course, it’s now on my shopping list! But now that the montage is complete, I realise I haven’t done my homework properly. I have now realised a much more apt emblem for Italy – Bay or Laurel, (Lauris nobilis) used in Roman times to create wreaths to award to victors in sporting competitions. And it appears to be on their shirts under the flag! Oh, well, it’s done now! It’s just a bit of fun! They may not need them – and the Phlomis is prettier!

So there we have it! My garden homage to the Six Nations! All done from a purely biased point of view – no offence intended!

And may I add, please don’t try this at home!! 😉

May the best team win!


10 thoughts on “A Six Nations Border

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      Thank you! I’m a Dundonian, with family still in Forfar. I know Edinburgh well from my student days. I did enjoy making the plan – which is more than can be said for the score! 😦

  1. Cathy

    I had to smile at your topical post and six nations border – I don’t think I knew you were a Scot either. I am an Edinburgh girl myself, although I don’t sound much like it these days apart from some odd vowels! Do you still have any accent?

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      I think it’s still there! Especially when I phone home! Mr. Chef thinks I definitely still sound Scottish. (Gently, apparently!) And I know Edinburgh so well – from student days and beyond. I’m glad you enjoyed my bit of fun!

      1. Cathy

        And apologies – I did know of your heritage, but had forgotten. It came out when I was I was posting about Edinburgh in November. Sorry, must be getting forgetful….. 😉

  2. Julie

    My family are sports mad too and I did plant up a planter in my daughters netball teams colours last year, luckily, purple and white. We purposefully plant clover in our lawn here, there are lots of plusses, it does not go brown in a drought, needs less mowing and bees love the flowers.

  3. thelonggardenpath Post author

    I’ve often pondered on a rugby themed border. I do enjoy such things! Purple and white is a good combination. Mine could be harder – navy blue is a rare colour in nature. So pleased to hear that now I can leave the clover in the lawn with a clear conscious!

  4. Chloris

    Well as you are a keen Rugby enthusiast this post is a jolly good way of combining your two hobbies. Very nice; but I think I would have given France the Fleur de Lys. But perhaps not, as they no longer have a monarchy.

  5. thelonggardenpath Post author

    Thand you, Chloris. It was just a bit of fun – and I did enjoy doing it! I like your suggestion too. It would be interesting to see what our fellow bloggers would have suggested!


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