Category Archives: Gardening Thoughts

Spectacular Seed- Heads. It is not all about the flowers!

 Seed-heads in the Autumn Garden

Seed-heads in the Autumn Garden

As the days shorten and Autumn takes it’s grip, the heady days of flower power are beginning to pass. Although the flowers may be over there is still an encore to be had with the seed heads of many grasses and herbaceous perennials adding a delicate tracery to the early Autumn flower boarder. Here are some striking examples.

Stipa gigantea

Stipa gigantea

Stipa Gigantea: A clump forming grass of up to a meter across of thin sliver leaf-blades. Gives rise to tall spikes of delicate ‘oat’ like seed -heads, that start green but by the early autumn are a rich gold colour. Held 1/1.3m about the grass clump. Grows on free draining soil, in full sun.

 Physalis alkelongi

Physalis alkelongi

Physalis alkelongi: There is nothing subtle about the vivid orange of the ‘Chinese Lantern’ plant. Free seeding and a good spreader this nondescript herbaceous perennial of 45/60cmm tall, gives rise in early autumn to the most dramatic orange lantern seed- heads alternating up the stem. Grows in humus rich free draining soil, sun or slight shade.

Allium schubertii

Allium schubertii

Allium Schubertii: All the Alliums have impressive seed heads that lengthen their attractive usefulness in the mixed border, but none have the wow factor quite like Schubertii. It looks like a ‘chrysanthemum firework’ in mid explosion. Water retentive humus rich soil. 30/35cm tall.

Cynara scolymus

Cynara scolymus

Cynara Scolymus: The ‘Globe Artichoke’ a statuesque addition to the large planting border, provides a very tasty vegetable, wonderful thistle like flowers beloved by bees and it’s seed-head is the scales of the artichoke it’s self. It look majestic in the autumn garden. Full sun free draining soil. Up to 2m tall

Angelica archangelica

Angelica archangelica

Angelica archangelica: A tall dominating biannual that likes to seed around with large mid green leaves and 2m tall umbel green flower heads that give way to golden brown seed- heads by the Autumn. Full sun free draining soil.

So when you are planning the planting in your garden don’t just concentrate on the flower colour and flowering time, think of the seed-heads to follow and how they can make a dramatic statement in the Autumn garden.

 an Autumn early morning.

an Autumn early morning.

If you want help planning planting for good autumn colour and sead-head interest then I know a woman who can help you. Give Emily a ring Tel: 01273 470753.

The Late Summer Cutting Garden

Vibrent late summer flowers

Vibrent late summer flowers

September is the summers last cheer and with it brings a large pallet of richly coloured herbaceous perennials that produce arm fulls of vivid coloured flowers perfect for cutting whether in formal flower arrangements or more informally spilling out of large jugs and vases. Here are some favorates

Dahlia 'Bishop of Oxford'

Dahlia ‘Bishop of Oxford’

Dahlia ‘Bishop of Oxford’: The striking flowers and this case dark purple foliage are worth fighting the slugs for. This Dahlia makes a good clump of attractive foliage with bright tangerine orange single flowers with a bronze stamen centre to 90cm tall. Grows in draining good fertile soil. Grow in full sun.

 Dahlia 'Black Cat'

Dahlia ‘Black Cat’

Dahlia ‘Black Cat’: Large clumps of mid green foliage up to 110cm tall. With striking dark burgundy red velvety cactus formation flowers. A real show stopper in any flower arrangement. Grows in draining fertile soil. Grow in full sun.

Flower preparation tips: Best to cut flowers that are in bud nearly open or fully open, as they will not open further once cut. Cut the length of stem needed for the vase you are using, don’t cut more stem than needed. Cut the stem diagonally. Re-cut the stems before arranging them. Place the stems in about 50/70mm of very hot (not quite boiling water) leave the stems for about 1 hour. This conditioning of the stems will help your blooms last up to 6 days.

 Gladiolus alba 'The Bride'

Gladiolus alba ‘The Bride’

Gladiolus alba ‘The Bride’: Easily grown bulbs in a sunny position. Gladiolus bring a touch of elegance and height to any flower arrangement. Pure white flowers held along the stem. 50cm tall.

Gladiolus ramosus 'Robinetta'

Gladiolus ramosus ‘Robinetta’

Gladiolus ramosus ‘Robinetta’: Deep rich red flowers with an ivory throat make this Gladiolus a flower arrangers delight. 60Cm tall.

Flower preparation tips: When choosing which blooms to cut choose a stem that has 3 or 4 flowers at the bottom that are part open. To condition you flower stems, place in a mixture of warm water and floral preservative. Then place the stems and container in a dark cool place for several hours to fully condition your flowers before making your flower arrangement. The conditioned flowers can last from 6 to 12 days.

 Heliopsis hellianthoides var.scabra

Heliopsis hellianthoides var.scabra

Heliopsis hellianthoides var. scabra: Often called the false sun flower, this herbaceous perennial packs a mighty punch in the flower boarder and the vase. Large clear yellow single flowers raise to 1.50m tall grown in full sun in any good moist fertile soil.

Flower preparation tips: Choose fully open flower. For soft stems, cut before conditioning at an angle. woody stems hammer, for both allow to harden in a deep depth of tepid/warm water for several hours. The flower will last 5 to 8 days.

 Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'

Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’

Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’: Clump forming mid green foliage with one of the largest of the Echinacea flower at up to 175mm wide. Of dark magenta pink petals and a dramatic rust yellow centre stamen cone. This flower takes centre stage in the late summer bouquet. Grows in full sun in in most soils, but it does not like drying out. Grows up to 90cm tall.

Flower preparation tips: Choose flowers that are newly fully open to lengthen the vase life. Cut the stems again before placing in a deep container of tepid water for a couple of hours to allow them to condition before arranging the flowers.

Veronica spicata

Veronica spicata

Veronica spicata: the foliage forms a compact tussock, with dense spikes of lavender purple flowers reaching 60/75cm high. This adds some drama and height to flower arrangements. Easily grown herbaceous perennial in any free draining soil in full sun.

Flower preparation tips: Choose flower stems that are fully out. Cut stems before placing in tepid water over night to harden off and condition. Flowers last 4 to 5 days approx.

Now with all this flower power a little foil is needed, ornamental grass seed heads are beginning to come into their own in September and the light seed heads lifts and lightens the late summer flower arrangement with it’s bold vivid colours. Try Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning light’, with feathery pinkish heads or Stipa gigantea with it’s large golden oat grass like flower heads.

Miscanthus sinsensis 'Morning Light'

Miscanthus sinsensis ‘Morning Light’

Stipa gigantea

Stipa gigantea

So now you are inspired to not only to plant with late summer colour for your garden but also to bring the last heat and vibrant colours of summer into your home.

home grown garden flowers make a splash as flower arrangements.

home grown garden flowers make a splash as flower arrangements.

If you would like some help creating areas of planting in your garden that are suitable for flower arranging and for cut flowers at home then I know a woman who can help you, just give me a call. Ring Emily tel:01273 470753.

Urban Garden Design

An exciting new web page under services. visit www.arcadiagardendesign.co.uk/services/urban-garden-design/

So many of us live in a crowded urban environment. Which is overwhelmingly filled with built structure from houses, skyscrapers, shopping malls, roads and car parks it is hard to see the green, and often even harder to see our own little bit of green oasis where we can shut out the city and can enjoy the natural environment.

A town oasis

A town oasis

It does not have to be this way, over the years I have designed all sorts of very small odd shaped courtyards, often surrounded by high walls and over looking buildings, that at best become a storage spot for the bins and recycling boxes with the odd bike thrown into the mix.

Good garden design can find solutions to storing bikes, with well designed bike sheds with green roofs planted with plants to attract garden pollinators and bees. To spots to hide dustbins behind well chosen planting and recycling boxes that can disappear into storage bench seats. To retractable washing lines that do away with the space hungry rotary washing line.

a quite spot to sit and enjoy the new outdoor room.

a quite spot to sit and enjoy the new outdoor room.

These spaces can become somewhere where you can want to spend time in, with seating areas that double up as storage and exciting boundary design with planting that can bring green to the vertical. Carefully designed water features can help to hide traffic noise and bring a tranquil quality to your new outside room.

For full details and to see sketch designs and photos visit the new web page www.arcadiagardendeign.co.uk/services/urban-garden-design/

The other big dilemma for the urban dweller is parking, more cars less space and more on street parking schemes which keep going up in price and often you end up parked a few streets away from home for the price of you residents permit. These reasons understandably drive most town folk with a car into the decision to pave over the front garden and invite their 4 wheeled friend to sit with it’s nose on the glass of the sitting room window.

This has turned our town and city residential streets into a very unattractive parking lot, with a variety of different surfaces. Even large front gardens can be completely paved even though room is only needed for one or two cars creating a concrete dessert which is to the detriment ascetically for us all but with big knock on effects for wildlife and the city environment as a whole and for the health of the people who live and work there.

With globe warming and more uncertain weather patterns rain fall seems to come in the form of more substantial heavy down pours making flash floods in most urban areas much more frequent. Also the reduction in these green spaces, reduces the habits for urban wildlife from birds, insects, amphibians and mammals. Also the lawns, shrubberies and front garden trees act as the green lungs of our urban environment breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen for the benefit of us humans and the city wildlife.

You have to ask yourself, if you live, work, or socialise in a town or city do you want it to be a sterile place with next to no wildlife? Because if not then you need to join the cry of the RHS campaign to Green Grey Britain to find out more visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/gardening-in-a-changing-world/greening-grey-britain

Government and local authorities have started to wake up and smell the coffee, with the introduction thank goodness of the SUDS law. Which means any newly paved areas for drives and parking that are over 5m2 have to paved with either permeable paving material, or have a sufficient drainage and soak-away system contained with in the home owners own garden or have a suitable body of planting to absorb the run off. So even if someone is determined to just pave everything in theory it should not add to the flash flooding risk.

To learn more visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/how-to-green-your-grey-front-garden

So the RHS research is sobering reading, with more than 4.5 million front gardens having no plants at all! Also a ¼ of all front gardens are now completely paved.

At Arcadia Garden Design, we can find solutions so it does not have to be this way! Visit our new web page for full details www.arcadiagarendesign.co.uk/services/urban-garden-design/

parking with a front garden

parking with a front garden

But there is so much more you can do. I have been designing front gardens to incorporate parking and a green garden for twenty years. It is very possible to have both with an imaginative design approach so that you can still have a green space with trees and shrubs and herbaceous planting which helps with water run off, helps clean the air of the town and gives a a much needed habitat for the urban wildlife. Most importantly gaining back your front garden from being just a parking space makes it attractive, it helps your home sit well in the ascetics of the street environment. It looks welcoming to your visitors and for you returning home each day, it looks loved!

a front garden in Hove Sussex, that has good planting and a tree and a space for a car.

a front garden in Hove Sussex,that has good planting and a tree and space for a car

To find out more about the RHS on going research into front gardens their environmental importance, their wildlife habitats, their health advantages for city dweller and ways in which you can join the campaign. Visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/gardening-in-a-changing-world/greening-grey-britain/front-garden-research

If I can help you create your new green outside room or to give you parking and a front garden then please do ring me. Tel.01273 470753.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sumptuous Soft Fruit

mouth watering berries

mouth watering berries!

As summer enters fall speed there is nothing quite so worthwhile and wondrous as growing your own soft fruit. However small a space you have, you can normally fit something in. From Raspberries, Red Currents, Gooseberries, Loganberries, Strawberries and Black Currents, the choice is many and varied. Soft fruit is relatively easy to grow and not as time consuming as vegetable growing, so ideal for the time stretched gardener. Here are a selection of good varieties to get your taste buds going.

RASBERRIES

Rasberry malling Jewel

Raspberry Malling Jewel

R. Malling Jewel: Good main crop Raspberry, with excellent firm fruit with good strong flavour. Good for freezing. Flowers late so is less susceptible to frost damage. Tolerates most soil conditions, even less drained ones.

Raspberry Glen Ample

Raspberry Glen Ample

R. Glen Ample: Prolific fruitier, mid-season with massive ‘ten pence’ size fruits. With good sweet flavour. Out crops all others, good keeper and is virus-resistant. Grows well in all free draining soils.

REDCURRANTS

 Redcurrent Jonkheer Van Tets

Redcurrent Jonkheer Van Tets

R.Johnheer Van Tets: Early, vigorous grower, in all moist soils. Heavy cropper with good medium sized fruits.

Redcurrent Rondom

Redcurrent Rondom

R. Rondom: late season, compact bush, good for a small garden. Bunches of fruit with 15 to 20 berries very prolific cropper.

GOOSEBERRIES

Gooseberry Captivator

Gooseberry Captivator

G. Captivator: Grows well in humus rich moist soils. A good cropping gooseberries which is almost thornless with strong flavoured mildew resistant.

Gooseberry careless

Gooseberry careless

G.Careless: upright habit, Mid-season, large smooth pale green fruits with good flavour and good for freezing.

LONGANBERRIES

Longanberry LY59

Longanberry LY59

L.LY59: A variety which is now harder to obtain, this variety is worth the fruit nursery search. Grows well in most soils but not waterlogged soils. Large maroon fruits, with an acidic tang fruiting in June. Good cropper ideal for preserving, freezing and jam making.

 Longanberry LY654

Longanberry LY654

L.Ly654: This thornless clone produces dark red fruit nearly black when fully ripe, makes a tart and tasty addition to the soft fruit spread, good for freezing.

STRAWBERRIES

Strawberry Cambridge favourite

Strawberry Cambridge favourite

S. Cambridge Favourite: best in lighter soils but will grow in rich soils if well drained. One of the earliest fruiter and one of the most reliable. Vigorous grower and crops well over a long season. With large pink to red sweet fruits.

 Strawberry Elsanta

Strawberry Elsanta

S. Elsanta: Same growing conditions as above. This is the strawberry with the longest cropping season from mid-June to mid-July. With good sized fruit and excellent flavour, becoming a favourite of supermarkets.

BLACKCURRENTS

 Blackcurrent Ben Lomond

Blackcurrent Ben Lomond

B.Ben Lomond: Needs moist humus rich soils to do well. Late flowers so avoids frost damage. Good fruit and high yield. Mildew and leaf pest resistant.

Blackcurrent Ben Sarek

Blackcurrent Ben Sarek

B.Sarek: A dwarf variety ideal for the small garden, Frost and mildew resistant and high yields with large fruit.

Who isn't tempted

Who isn’t tempted

With the thought of popping up the garden to pick a fresh bowl of fruit with a dollop of cream or ice cream, or the thought of frozen berries for out of season pies, or jams and compotes, who could not be tempted by the sheer culinary delights of growing your own soft fruit.

So much choice!

So much choice!

With so many varieties of delicious fruit to choose from, this is a good time of year to do a bit of ‘tasting’ research to decide on the ones you like best and will suit your garden’s growing conditions. Ready to order the plants from fruit nurseries late summer for bare root planting in the winter months. If you would like help with selection and planting your soft fruit. Then I know a lady who can, give me a ring Tel:01273 470753. To advise and help you.

Enjoy!

Riotous Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons taking centre stage.

Rhododendrons taking centre stage.

This large genus of shrubs which also includes Azaleas, are not just the staple of large gardens of stately homes with acres of garden. They are however invaluable as woodland edge planting and as a dramatic evergreen backdrops with riots of colour for the large boarder. Or to be used as individual specimens in a small mixed planting. Also as shapely container grown specimens on a patio.

 Rhododendrons fulvum

Rhododendrons fulvum

Rhododendron fulvum: For an outstanding Rhododendron that has presence and is a specimen this is a hard variety to beat. It is fully hardy a large shrub/small tree. With cinnamon bark and clusters of large leathery dropping leaves with sandy indumentun beneath. Clusters of bell shaped blush to rose coloured flowers opening to a clear white with a crimson blotch are produced from April till May.

 Rhododendron 'President Roosevelt'

Rhododendron ‘President Roosevelt’

Rhododendron ‘President Roosevelt’: Good domed habit reaching 1.5m high. Clusters of mid green foliage with a bold golden central splash make this a wonderfully distinctive Rhododendron to grow in a pot giving a great splash of colour even in the winter months. Clusters of bright red flowers with a white throat are borne in April till May. Fully hardy.

Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Grumpy'

Rhododendron yakushimanum ‘Grumpy’

Rhododendron Yorkshireman ‘Grumpy’:  The ‘Yaks’ are a great group of small compact Rhododendrons with a distinctive growing habit and very attractive glossy green foliage with pronounced indumentum in soft cream on the under side of the leaves and Grumpy is one of the 7 dwarf series of hybrids. These slow growing rhododendrons are worth the wait. Orange buds open to delicate cream bell shaped flowers with tints of pink and spotted buff on the upper lobes. Flowering in late May.

Rhododendron 'Blue Diamond'

Rhododendron ‘Blue Diamond’

Rhododendron ‘Blue Diamond’: A classic dwarf Rhododendron with upright habit and tiny dense clusters of small grey green leaves and masses of vivid blue flowers April to May.

Rhododendron 'Elsie Lee'

Rhododendron ‘Elsie Lee’

Rhododendron (Azalea) ‘Elsie Lee’: compact small semi-dwarf habit with small rounded leaves. Rich purple double flowers in May.

 Rhododendron 'Nancy Waterer'

Rhododendron ‘Nancy Waterer’

Rhododendron (Azalea) ‘Nancy Waterer’: Upright habit, deciduous Azalea with orange, red autumn colour. Large fragrant bright yellow flowers in April to May.

Rhododendrons making the highlight of a mid summer woodland garden.

Rhododendrons making the highlight of a mid summer woodland garden.

Rhododendrons have been shunned and under used in recent years by garden designers and keen gardens alike. With bad press of being big green blobs with flashy bright flowers, but this is bad garden sighting not the shrubs themselves. Rhododendrons and Azaleas can be magnificent and just need a sensitive hand when planning their use and it is high time they re-entered centre stage in the garden.

Early Spring Jewels

early spring jewels.

An early spring arrival to brighten the garden is the delicate Iris retticulat and Iris histroides and their many named varieties. These dainty Irises at only 100 to 200mm tall grow well on a sunny bank or rockery or in a pot close to the house. They have the added advantage of not being a tasty treat for mice and squirrels which tend to ignore their bulbs and fresh foliage in favour of crocus.

 Iris reticulata 'Blue Hills'

Iris reticulata ‘Blue Hills’

Iris reticulata ‘Blue Hills’ – A rich deep blue with a golden splash, plant in groups with white crocus or snowdrops. Flowering Feb-march.

 Iris histtriodes 'kathrine Hodgkin'

Iris histtriodes ‘kathrine Hodgkin’

Iris histriodes ‘Kathrine Hodgkins’- Large pale blue, white flowers with blue green veins and falls which are yellow blotched. This delicate vein variety can be enjoyed at it’s best in a raided bed or tall pot. Flowering Jan-march

Iris retculata 'J.S.Dijt'

Iris retculata ‘J.S.Dijt’

Iris reticulata ‘ J.S.Dijt’- A velvety rich plum purple flower with golden blotch, helps this Iris stand out in the winter early spring boarder when planted in clumps. Flowering Feb-march

Iris histroides 'Beatrix Stanley'

Iris histroides ‘Beatrix Stanley’

Iris histriodes ‘Beatrix Stanley’- A clear sky blue flower with white feathered edges. A great iris for pots or for the alpine garden. Flowering Jan-March.

IIris reticulata 'White Caucasus'

Iris reticulata ‘White Caucasus’

Iris reticulata ‘White Caucasus’- A recent introduction this iris has clear white flowers and a yellow splash. It would be a dramatic combination with a deep purple crocus planted in a container. Flowering Feb-march.

 Iris retculata 'Spot on'

Iris retculata ‘Spot on’

Iris reticulata ‘Spot on’- A dark purple flower with white spotted falls that end in deep purple. This tiny flower packs well above it’s weight with these stunning flowers. Just made for a container near a front door to be admired closely. Flowering Feb-March

Iris looking at their best in containers

Iris looking at their best in containers

These tiny triumphs of the early spring are so delicate it is hard to imagine they can cope with the harsh weather of late winter and early spring. They are well worth their place on mass in a winter planting scheme, or planted in small groups in raised beds or containers where their delicate beauty can be fully enjoyed.

Essential Evergreens

Evergreens take centre stage.

Evergreens take centre stage.

As February looms and the glitter of Christmas is a fading memory the depths of winter are feeling long in the garden. This is where evergreens finally come into their own. All year they have been the back drop to the vibrant blooms of summer and autumn. Now they take centre stage.

Trees

Eucryphia x nymansensis 'Nymansay'

Eucryphia x nymansensis ‘Nymansay’

Eucryphia x nymansensis ‘Nymansensis’ : A small elegant tree of slender columnar habit, with dark glossy green leaves, and saucer shaped white flowers up to 6mm across with a cluster of bright yellow stamens in August. Grows well in a loamy soils but this variety will tolerate chalky conditions.

Chameyparis lawsoniana 'Columnaris'

Chameyparis lawsoniana ‘Columnaris’

Chamecyparis lawsoniana ‘Columnaris’: This delightful small conifer is an ideal focal point for a small garden. It has a dense, narrow habit with ascending branches and flattened sprays of glaucous foliage, with attractive bunches of small round cones. It grows well on neutral soils but will tolerate poor conditions.

Shrubs

Pieris japonica 'Variegata'

Pieris japonica ‘Variegata’

Pieris japonica ‘Variegata’: This attractive medium sized shrub, gives a lot of ‘bang’ for it’s ‘buck’. It has glossy dark green leaves with a creamy yellow edged margin and the new growth in spring is held upright in rich red tufts of leaves giving a good contrasted with the mature foliage. Delicate racemes of ‘lilly of the valley’ type flowers in clear white are produced in April/May. Pieris are members of the Ericaceae family and so need acid soil, they will however grow just as well in a large tub or container.

Pittosporum tenifolium 'Tom Thumb'

Pittosporum tenifolium ‘Tom Thumb’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’: This wonderful mound forming small shrub can be used as a statement at the front of a boarder or as an informal low hedge. It has dark glossy burgundy foliage with the new growth being a vibrant lime green before it becomes speckled purple and finally becomes a mature wine colour. It responses well to gentle clipping after the last of the frosts. Like all Pittosperums it is only fully hardy in the south of England. It will grow in all well drained soils and will tolerate a variety of soil types, except waterlogging.

Herbaceous

Pittosporum tenifolium 'Tom Thumb'

‘Ajuga retans ‘Catlin’s Gaint’

Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Gaint’: This vigorous spreading ground cover plant adds a splash of colour to the lower boarder and acts as a great foil for dwarf spring bulbs. Shiny rounded dark purple leaves on long creeping stems make a dense purple matt. In early spring, 75mm tall dark blue/purple flower spikes are produced which form an attractive combination between flower and leaf colour.

Berginia rotblum

Berginia rotblum

Bergina ‘Rotblum’: This striking low growing herbaceous perennial has large glossy emerald green leaves which turn a deep claret red when the temperatures drop in the autumn and winter, making it a striking addition to the lower boarder. It has magenta flower held on red stems rising 200mm above the bold dark red leaves in March and flowering till early May. It does well in humus rich soil in semi-shade, it does not like waterlogging.

Evergreens are versatile in their use from clipped topery as a statement piece to one off specimen trees, to the dominant focal points at entrances and exits, to screening hedges and low boarder edging hedges. To dramatic sweeps of low evergreen herbaceous planting. All are essential evergreen planting uses in the garden.

Evergreens make a winter garden.

Evergreens make a winter garden.

So if you are looking out of the kitchen window at a brown and desolate garden where all you see is the sticks of the roses and the bare earth now the herbaceous plants have died down and endless boundary fences round the garden. Then you need to think about enriching your garden design with some evergreen elements and now is the time to get planning and get planting. If you need help? Then I know a woman who can. Give me a ring, 01273 470753.

Breath evergreen life into you winter garden!

Christmas Rose- The Winter Wonders of the Hellebore.

a-sweep-of-hellaborus

a-sweep-of-hellaborus

The Hellaborus genus are a group of woodland edge plants which thrives in partial shade and well drained humus rich soils and flower from December to May. Their mounds of evergreen foliage and delicate flowers lift the spirits in the darkest of winter days.

H. orientallis

H. orientallis

Hellaborus orientallis: Mounds of dark glossy green palmate foliage up to 60cm high,with flower stems lasting from late February to early May. The colours vary from white, cream, with pink and purple speckles, to dusky purple to light green, the nodding flower heads give way to attractive seed heads in May.

H. niger

H. niger

Helleborus niger: Green/grey foliage held in 30cm high mounds with open white saucer shaped flowers with bright yellow stamens on pink stems. Flowering late December to March.

H.argutifolius

H.argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius: A wonderful free seeding thug, that has a foliage and habit with the wow factor! Strong upright stems to 60cm high hold deeply palmate glaucous leaves which are heavily toothed. Great stems of multiple pea green flowers from March to May.

H.foetidus

H.foetidus

Helleborus foetidus: The native British hellebore. With clumps of deeply divided glossy green leaves in attractive mounds up to 60cm. Free flowering of small green flowers with a purple edge from February to April. Seeds freely.

To get the greatest impact out of planting these brilliant herbaceous perennials, plant them in sweeps and clumps to give a flowering impact. Also to best view their delicate flowers which tend to nod downwards, planting on a bank or raised bed can display them at their best. If as the flower stems emerge and at the point the buds are to open, then some subtle cutting back of the leaves might be carried out so the flowers can be seen in all their glory. Also like all plants that are flowering in winter early spring, chose a spot close to the house or along side a path or near the garage or shed where they will be easy to enjoy.

hellabores-adding-colour-to-the-winter-garden

hellabores-adding-colour-to-the-winter-garden

Helleborus black spot: An unsightly disease that effects mostly the foliage with large spreading black spots but can also effect the stems and flower buds, to treat infected plants cut out all effected parts and to prevent it spreading to other Hellebores. Most strong plants will cope with an attack and just need the effected areas pruned out and will make healthy new growth. The diseased material must be binned or burnt straight away, to help prevent spreading. do not compost.

Berry Blasts of Autumn Colour.

As the nights are drawing in and the leaves being to turn, this season of mellow mists and fruitfulness gives a blast of autumnal colour in the form of shrubs loaded with berry colour. Here are a few that I think are worthy of a space, somewhere to catch the sunny spells and a good evergreen backing shrub can intensify their berry drama.

The Main Stays: Cotonester ‘Cornubia’ (wateri group), A handsome large shrub with arching habit and evergreen foliage. Making it a good inform hedge. White flower cluster sit up-right on the branches in mid summer and by the end of September beginning of October the bunches of red/orange fruit are forming and will be held on through most of the winter until eaten by the birds. Will grow on most soils including shallow chalk but not water logged ground.

cotonester 'cornubia'

cotonester ‘cornubia’

Pyracantha rogersiana ‘Flava’, A vigorous wall shrub or grown as a good ‘vandal’ proof hedge with it’s thorny spines. Small evergreen glossy leaves. Clusters of sweet scented flowers late spring give way by early autumn to masses of clustered yellow berries, that survive as long as the birds will let them. It makes a striking display. Growing conditions as above.

racantha-rogersiana-flava

racantha-rogersiana-flava

The More Unusual: Perrnettya ‘Pink Pearl’ A small dense forming evergreen shrub up to 1/1.3m high, small glossy green spine tipped leaves. Small insignificant flowers give way to masses of clustered round ball shaped fruit in a soft pink tint. Acid loving shrub growing in moist humus rich soils sun or part shade.

perrnettya-pink-pearl

perrnettya-pink-pearl

Hippophae rhamnoides, a striking medium to large evergreen shrub, with dark branches and thin clusters of sliver leaves. The ‘Sea Buckthorn’ can be found as the front line shrub growing next the coast, coping well with exposed sites and sea winds. It has mighty thornes, so makes a good boundary hedge in exposed sites. Its tiny white summer flowers give way to masses of small orange berries that clothe the branches in late summer and early autumn.

hippophae-rahamnoides

hippophae-rahamnoides

The Dame Right Quirky: Leycesteria formosa, a medium sized shrub, with a slightly shaggy habit and fast growing. White flowers in dropping panicles of dark red brats from June to September give way to striking berries a dark blue/black hanging in the red brats. Lasting well into the autumn.

leycesteria-formosa

leycesteria-formosa

Clerodendrum trichotomum fargesii, an elegant large shrub with upright habit. Grows well on humus rich soil. Fragrant white blush pink star-shaped fragrant flowers. Followed by china-blue berries in crimson pink brats make a stunning statement.

clerodendrum-trichotomum-fargesii

clerodendrum-trichotomum-fargesii

To The Double Blasters: Callicarpa bodinieri giraldii, a good well sized medium shrub, with small purple flowers mid-summer followed by clusters of tiny purple berries borne up the branches and lasting well after leaf fall. As the days get colder the leaves turn a pink and purple and along with the berries produce a striking effect.

callicarpa-bodinieri-giraldii

callicarpa-bodinieri-giraldii

Euonymus alatus, A medium sized shrub with a spreading habit and corky wings on the branchlets, slow growing in most soils and does well on shallow chalks. The insignificant flowers give way to striking berries, they hang down with outer bright orange capsules with shocking pink inner berry. These unusual berries are set against the stunning brilliant red autumn leaf colour.

euomymus-alatus-leaves

euomymus-alatus-leaves

euomymus-alatus

euomymus-alatus

So get out there and enjoy the other blast of autumn colour! Now is a good time to note the shrubs with the best berry colour, and add them to your garden planting. If you want help designing a autumn planting boarder, then give me a ring, tel: 01273 470753.

Fruiting Glory- The Apple Harvest.

As the days begin to shorten and the evenings and early mornings start to gain an autumnal crispness September brings the bulk of the apple harvest. With small trees, cordons, espalier and even step over apples, there is surely space in most gardens for this most quintessential of English garden fruit.

Sizes: M27 is on a root stock that will grow to approx. 2m in height, so easy for picking and pruning. If how ever you want to have an apple tree to sit under then you should chose MM106 which will reach 4 to 5m in height and give you that traditional Orchard look. There are root stock sizes in between, ask your nursery for advise.

The best time to plant apple trees is in the bare root season, when the trees are dormant, from late November to early March as a rough rule of thumb.

Pollination, apart from the self-fertile varieties all apple trees will need a pollinator variety. So if the tree you choose is in pollinator group 3 then choose a campaign tree from either group 3 or from an adjoining group in this case 2 or 4.

Here are some apple varieties I would deferentially give house room to.

Early Fruiters

Apple Discovery: Well rounded rosy fruit with a crisp juicy flavour. Good disease resistance and frost tolerance. Picking time is late July-early August. This variety does not keep well so enjoy it’s delights while you can. Pollination group 3.

A. Discovery

A. Discovery

Apple George Cave: This old variety has a refreshing flavour and crops heavily and regularly. Fruit is ripe end of July and into early August. Stored well they will keep till October. Pollination group 2.

A. Geogre Cave

A. Geogre Cave

Late Eaters

Apple Rosemary Russet: Fruit is orange to reddish brown flushed over golden russet. Medium sized fruits with a sweet-sharp taste. Picking late September to early October and keeping if stored well till February. Pollination group 3

A. Rosemary Russet

A. Rosemary Russet

Apple Winter Gem: Pink flushed fruit with rich and aromatic flavour. A reliable heavy cropping variety. Pick in October and store well for fruit up till Christmas. Pollination group 3.

A.Winter Gem

A.Winter Gem

Self-fertile Eaters

Apple Cox’s Orange Pippin: This surely above all other apples must be the variety that evokes home grown apples and quite rightly so with it’s distinctive aromatic crisp and juicy flavour. Fruits are golden flushed red and orange. Pick September into October, will store till November.

A. Cox's Orange Pippin

A. Cox’s Orange Pippin

Apple Christmas Pearmain: Green- yellow fruits with firm flesh and good fresh flavour. Picking time late September.

A. Christmas Pearmain

A. Christmas Pearmain

Dual Purpose Apples

As the name suggests, both for cooking and eating, the apples start with a tart flavour and then mellow with storage into an eater.

Apple Blenheim Orange: one of the best dual use apples with large golden fruits, that has a creamy flesh which is crisp,dry with a nutty flavour. A heavy cropper. Pick early October and store well to January. PLEASE NOTE: this variety is a triploid, so it needs 2 pollinating apples, Pollination group 3.

A. Belenheim Orange

A. Belenheim Orange

Apple James Grieve: A good apple for a difficult site, does well in northern gardens. Crops heavily and regularly. A green-yellow red flushed fruit of soft texture which is juicy and tangy. Pick late August early September. Pollination group 3.

A. James Grieve

A. James Grieve

Cooking Apples

What Sunday lunch in the autumn could be with out Apple Pie? Here are tow varieties that are packed full of flavour.

Apple Bountiful: This is a compact variety that will fit well into a smallish garden. Large green fruit blushed red, with a juicy crisp flavour. It is a heavy and regular cropper. Pick late September and store well, till March. Pollination group 3.

A. Bountiful

A. Bountiful

Apple Bramley’s Seedling: By far the most popular cooking apple of them all, it’s large trees produce branches laden with fruit and it will no doubt be this variety of apple that your friends and neighbours are piling upon you in bucketfuls of free gifts. It is a prolific cropper of large round green/yellow fruits with a firm white flesh and strong crisp juicy flavour, that makes great pies! Picking time early-mid October. Store the fruit well and you will still be making pies well into early spring. Pollination group 3.

A. Bramley's Seedling

A. Bramley’s Seedling

Storage: It should be a clean, dry and dark space with some ventilation and free from mice, and any strong flavours or smells do not store with the onions or next to the creosote. Pick when it is dry weather, line with newspaper low plastic or wooden  boxes. Dry fruit and carefully make sure the fruit you store does not have any blemishes. Place fruit in rows. Check your fruit boxes at least once a week to remove any apples going rotten the paper may well need changing at this point.

So now is the time to go and do some edible research, whether it is sampling the fruit of friends and neighbours and taking note of which varieties you like or going to some Apple Day events, at Brighton Apple Day 2nd October www.brightonpermaculture.org.uk or Apple fair at West Dean 1&2nd October www.westdean.org.uk Or RHS Wisley has a huge variety of apple trees and sells different fruits for you to try.

Once you have your list and if you want help creating your own orchard, then do give me a ring. Tel:01273 470753.

Happy Apple tasting!

High Summer Drama

Gone are the gentle soft pastels of roses, peonies and wisteria of mid summer as the temperature rises, the smoke of endless BBQ’s lifts into the air and we stretch out the sun loungers to catch the high summer rays, August pulls us into the vibrant colours of high summer.

This is the time of year in a British garden when vibrant strong colour looks at thier best in the garden and there are a range of brilliant herbaceous perennials which foot the bill perfectly.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’: a clump forming perennial that quickly increase, it will tolerate most soils apart from heavy clay and being water logged and it can be planted in sun or part shade. It has bold upright swords of mid green foliage and tall flower stems of neat bell like flowers in eye popping red. It adds a dramatic blast of colour. 1-1.2m high and flowering from July to September.

Helenium 'Morerheim Beauty'

Helenium ‘Morerheim Beauty’

Helenium ‘Morerheim Beauty’: A prairie plant from central USA, liking moist soils, an upright clump forming perennial. Which packs a big punch with it’s rust coloured daisy flowers with yellow buttoned stamens and long flowering season. Full sun, 90cm-1m high July-October.

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’: ‘The sun flower’ another great prairie plant from the mid USA to the south, coping well with chalky soils and drier conditions than Helenium. Can make great sweeps of plants with spreading rhizomes for the big boarder with a big impact. Flowers large lemon daisy heads, with darker central stems. Full sun, 1.5m high and flowering August to October and beyond.

Kniphofia uvaria 'Nancy's Red'

Kniphofia uvaria ‘Nancy’s Red’

Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’: A brilliant small ‘red hot poker’ for the front of the boarder, With clumps of thin sword leaves and flame red flower spikes held above, that push the vibrant colours of high summer through to late summer and the autumn with a long flowering season. Full sun. 50cm high, flowering from July to October.

Salvia x jamensis 'Hot Lips'

Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot Lips’

Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot lips’: Almost 3 plants in one, you get a lot of wow with this perennial. A clump forming bushy habit with small trumpet like flowers born up the flower stems. Flowering in June it is brilliant cherry red by July-August it hits it’s ‘hot lips’ best with a red upper lip and a white bottom one, by September into October as the day light hours shorten it turns to striking white. This chameleon of salvia’s deserves a place in any summer planting. Full sun, well drained soil. 90-1m high.

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivatii 'Goldstrum'

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivatii ‘Goldstrum’

Rudbeckia fulgida var. ‘sullivatii Goldstrum’: A north american beauty from USA/Mexico. ‘Black Eyed Susan’ clumps of erect stems of butter yellow daises with a black button of stems. Grows well in humus rich soils in full sun. Flowering from July to the first frosts, some times till mid November, it’s ‘marathon’ flowering season makes it an essential for the high summer boarder. 70-90cm high.

Ligularia 'Britt Marie Crawford'

Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’

Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’: Dramatic round leaves form clumps of purple foliage, with tall flower spikes of daisy flowers in orange-yellow. A must for a shady moist to boggy planting spot giving a splash of late summer colour. 1.50m high, flowering August -September.

Ligularia 'The Rocket'

Ligularia ‘The Rocket’

Ligularia ‘The Rocket’: Smaller clumps of round mid green leaves, with towering near black stems with masses of small brilliant yellow flowers that form a dense flower spike, makes a sweep of this perennial a highlight of the shady bog garden. Humus rich damp soil. 1.80m high, flowering July-August and into September.

These vivid herbaceous perennials are at their best when planted in a mixed boarder with good strong foliage textures from shrubs, other herbaceous plants and grasses and add that high note of colour that the strong light of high to late summer can take.

So as you enjoy the summer heat, spot those areas of the garden that are looking a little drab as we hit the summer days of August and decide where a splash of colour can lift the spirit.

If you need help replanning a flower boarder to give it a high summer note, then I know a woman who can help. Give me a ring, Tel:01273 470753. To get planning and planting early this autumn ready for next years high summer colour drama.

The Joys of the Summer Garden

Now is the time to really reap the rewards of all your hard work, the evenings are long and barmy, the garden is full of summer scents, time to sit back and enjoy it all!

Lewes Maritime Garden

Lewes Maritime Garden

Seating in a garden of any size it a must, from the all weather bench which stays in place all year round so you can grab that bit of last season sun on a Sunday afternoon in October or a sunny winter morning in February. To the versatile folding deck chair that can follow the sun round in mid summer so you can delight in different aspects of your garden at different times of the day. To the formal paved terrace with table and chairs to a small hidden patio with swing seat, all have their place.

by Arcadia, A Hove town garden.

by Arcadia, A Hove town garden.

Now is the time to get into your garden and really use it with afternoon teas, weekend drinks, mid-week suppers and full blown BBQ’s. Seats in shady quite spots for reading out of the midday heat to sun loungers on the lawn. To seats by wildlife ponds so the insect action can be enjoyed. Now is the time to make the most of your garden.

by Arcadia, wildlife pond, Tonbridge Wells.by Arcadia, wildlife pond, Tonbridge Wells.

by Arcadia, wildlife pond, Tonbridge Wells.

Spot the areas of the garden you use and some you may want to use more, decide if a bench is needed on the edge of a lawn or path or whether a larger paved seating area is needed.

by Arcadia, A Cottage Rose garden

by Arcadia, A Cottage Rose garden

Be careful with paved seating areas, they must be in scale for the garden as a whole. The temptation is to go big and not have enough planting incorporated into it, any garden element needs to link with the rest of the garden. After all having a terrace big enough for 8 to dine is large and if most of the time it is just two of you then perhaps a smaller terrace where 4 sit comfortably may be better. Then extra tables and chairs can flow out onto the lawn when the 8 people for the family gathering show up twice a year.

by Arcadia,Walled Garden.

by Arcadia,Walled Garden.

It is also a great time of year to go garden visiting, whether this is large gardens open to the public, where we can all ooh and Arr over the large flower beds and beautifully gardened planting. At a smaller more personal scale, gardens that are open in the national gardening scheme. www.ngs.uk. To garden trails opened by our neighbours round town districts or villages, where we get to see what works well in gardens of a similar size as ours and perhaps if they live one street away you can pick up helpful hints about what will grow well in your own garden.

by, Arcadia,Walled Garden

by Arcadia, modern town garden

So down tools for a bit, stop worrying about the weeds and the slugs and snails and just sit back and enjoy or get out there and enjoy someone else hard work!