Category Archives: Gardening News

Architectural Plants

Architectural Planting

Architectural Planting

Architectural plants, are plants from herbaceous to trees that has stand out ‘star’ quality and can be used as a statemented at the corner of a boarder or edge of the path or bang slap in the meddle of the lawn, they are meant to stop you in your tracks. All of the plants listed below if used in the right spot have the ability to do that.

Abies koreana

Abies koreana

Abies koreana: the ‘Korean Fir’ is a very slow growing medium tree, with a broad crown. It has a mass of short blunt dark green needles held on white stems. The foliage looks very dramatic, It has dense barrel shaped blue crones that are held on the branches for a long time. This is a beautiful conifer which can be planted even in a smallish garden due to it’s very slow growth. It can be enjoyed for many years as a shrub. Good rich soil slightly acidic, in full sun or partial shade.

Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge'

Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’

Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’: Stiff lanceolate slightly glaucous leaves with creamy margins are held in wide rosette spirals up the stem/trunk of the shrub. A tall flower spike in hotter summers is produced in July/ August and rises up to a 1m above the plant. It is this shrubs striking form that makes it so eye catching. Although be careful when gardening with it, as it has sharp spikes on the end of the leaves. Good draining soil in full sun

Gunnera manicata

Gunnera manicata

Gunera manicata: This is the wow factor plant of any bog garden or waterside planting. With huge palmate leafs of up to 1m across held on stout stems reaching 1.5/2m high, Strange conical flowers that are brown/green are produced in July to August. Good humus rich damp soil part-shade, protect the crowns in the winter.

Cortaderia selloana 'Sunningdale Sliver'

Cortaderia selloana ‘Sunningdale Sliver’

Cortaderia selloana ‘Sunningdale Silver’: Pampas grass, it may have had bad press in the past, but in the right place this really can be a specimen plant. It makes a dense clump of arching 1.5m long thin leaves, which have a creamy white edge. Flower plumes of white to creamy flowers are produced from August to October and will last through the winter.

Tachycarpus fortunei

Tachycarpus fortunei

Trachycarpus fortunei.: This is a striking addition to the English garden, this ‘Palm’ adds a touch of the exotic! It has wide palmate leafs of dark green palm like fond on 30cm long stems edged with spikes. These leaves are produced in a spiral round the central trunk It can be either grown as a tree, or as s shrub in a planting or does equally well as a container plant. It is hardy and will cope with sea winds. Grow in good free draining soil in full sun.

Miscanthus x giganteus

Miscanthus x giganteus

Miscanthus x giganteus: This a huge grass and not for the faint hearted gardener. It has broad arching green foliage that hangs from statuesque stems reaching up to 3m tall, it make dense tickets of stems and can form a grass forest. It has white plumes of flowers held upright above the stems and produced in late summer. It is a great screening plant and although the leaves fall in the winter the dense stems remain.

Phyllostachy aureosulcata f. aureocaulis

Phyllostachy aureosulcata f. aureocaulis

Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. aureocaulis: Please note always plant bamboo with a bamboo barrier round it it help to prevent spreading. Remember these are very vigorous plants and can become a pest if they start to take over. Having said all that this really is a striking form and you expect to find Pandas, lurking round the back of the odd stem. Up to 8m in height it can’t be missed, making clumps of dense golden yellow stems with good green foliage, this is truly an architectural plant.

Picea pungens 'Hoopsii'

Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’

Picea pungers ‘Hoopsii’: A stunning conifer for the smaller garden, it makes a small to medium sized conical tree. It has brilliant sliver blue foliage, the branches have a wonderful stiff structure, adding to the over all effect of this striking tree

Like with all good things, moderation is key, a statement plant is only a statement if there is one of it or it is used sparingly, to get that wow factor. A lot of the plants I have suggested are large and have thuggish qualities so plant with care. But they can truly own a space and be that talking point, just make sure they don’t over run it!

If you would like help with designing and planting your garden or a section of it. Then do give me, Emily a ring 01273 470753.

Culinary Herbs

 Mixed Culinary Herbs

Mixed Culinary Herbs

Culinary herbs are easy to grow and no matter how large or how small your garden, even if it is just a window box.

 Bouquet Garni

Bouquet Garni

You can enjoy the added bonus of fresh herbs in your cooking, here are the top easy to grow favourites, which appear in many dishes.

 Curly leafed Parsley

Curly leafed Parsley

Curly leafed Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): A universal herb, possible the most widely used in Britain, from stews to salads or the last flourish as a garnish, it has a crisp fresh flavour. An easy to grow biannual, sow directly into drills in a moisture retentive soil in dappled shade to gentle sun, from April to August. Thin with care. The younger leaves of the first year are the most tender, remove flower spikes to length the cropping yield. To help continue harvesting into the late autumn, cover with a clouch. Also the harvest can be lengthened by cutting the remaining leaves at the end of the season and either freezing them or drying in paper bags hung in a warm space like a linen cupboard.

Marjoram vulgare

Marjoram vulgare

Marjoram (Origanum vulgare): A strong favourite in Italian cooking, with it’s distinctive flavour. From cooking fish to vegetable dishes and what rich tomato sauce would be complete with out it. A vigorous low growing preannual, grows well in any free draining soil, in full sun. It’s flowers are much enjoyed by butterflies and its pretty purple flower heads can turn great sections of poor chalk down land a rosy purple hue. Dries well, use the same method as above.

 Chives

Chives

Chives ( Allium schoenoprosum); This delicate flavoured member of the onion family is a must in many dishes from potato salads to garnishing spring and summer soups. The flowers can also be used in salads. This preannual seeds freely, and will seek out pavement cracks. Grow in full sun in most soils except very wet ones. To lengthen the harvest freeze.

 Mint

Mint

Bowles Mint ( Mentha x villosa nm. Alopecuroides): A wonderful herb this it just one variety out or a cornucopia of different flavours and colours, but according to Edward Augustus bowels who it is named after, this is the variety that makes the best mint sauce. As with all mints they can be vigorous thugs, plant them in open ground at your peril. So always plant in a good sized container, grow in good moisture retentive soil and in dappled shade. To lenghten the harvest, dry as above.

Rosemary

Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinallis: This is the common Rosemary, producing a strong growing evergreen shrub up to 1.3m in height and at least the same in width. Grow in free draining poor soils in full sun. This aromatic herb can be used to flavour both meats and puddings.

 Thymus

Thymus

Thymus vulgaris: the common thyme, a wonderfully versatile herb, a staple of a wide range of Mediterranean cuisines, from fish, meat and vegetable dishes and also adding a fragrant note to puddings and sweets. A low growing evergreen herb, it will grow well in most poor soils in full sun and has a mass of pink/purple flowers in mid summer.

pots of Herbs

pots of Herbs

This selection of herbs would be my starter kit of culinary herbs, all can be grown in pots, in fact apart from the Rosemary I would in courage this as it means the herbs are above cat and dog level. Culinary herbs are best as close to the kitchen as growing conditions will allow, so you can pop out and harvest them mid cooking.

cooking with herbs

cooking with herbs

Growing herbs is easy and can be achieved in little to no space and most important of all, fresh herbs can bring an extra dimension to your cooking. Enjoy!

Amazing Alliums

 A mass of Alliums!

A mass of Alliums!

The ornamental members of the onion family put a big wow into the flowering month of May, whether a mass of wild garlic, white below a woodland canopy or the statuesque tall purple globes of some varieties threaded through mixed planting. The Allium is a late spring bulb which packs a large punch and is easy to grow.

A. hollandicum’Purple Sensation’: A good garden favourite, which is very reliable. Reaching 70-90cm tall with dense round heads of rich purple. Full sun. Flowering May to June.

 Allium 'Moly Jeannine'

Allium ‘Moly Jeannine’

A. ‘Molly Jeanninne’ : A low growing showy allium which will cope with a bit of shade. Reaching 25/30cm tall. With 1 to 2 stems of umbel headed flowers in bright sulphur yellow flowering May to June.

 Allium 'Mont Blanc'

Allium ‘Mont Blanc’

A. ‘Mount Blanc’: A giant of an allium, reaching 1/1.2m in height, with large globe dense heads of white flowers. A stunning talking point to any boarder.

 Allium cristophii

Allium cristophii

A. Cristophii: an impressive allium with large round heads reaching dinner plate size, the flower heads have flowers in spaced clusters evenly distributed over the whole flowering head. A light mauve colour reaching 50/60cm, flowering mid May to June.

 Allium schubertii

Allium schubertii

A. Schubertii: A show stopper if an allium, with a flower head of up to 20cm in size, with different length flowers making the round globe, producing an explosive firer work effect. With light purple flowers, it also looks stunning dried. Reaching a height of 35/40cm. Flowering end of May into June.

 Allium atropurpureum

Allium atropurpureum

A. Atropurpureum: An elegant allium standing at 90cm/1m tall, with rich dense heads of dark purple flowers June.

 Amazing Alliums

Amazing Alliums

Alliums, add a flowering punch into the late spring boarder when the earlier bulbs have died down and before the main flush of herbaceous planting has taken off. Most prefer full sun, they will cope with most soil conditions, but don’t like drying out and equally will rot in very wet conditions.

I hope I have inspired you to add this easy to grow bulb to your planting schemes. If you would like help with planning and planting a new planting scheme, then give me, Emily a ring on 01273 470753, I will be delighted to help you with you planting project.

Magnificent Magnolias

 Magnificent Magnolia

Magnificent Magnolia

Nothing says spring quite like the magnificence of Magnolia shrubs or trees in full flower and April into May is the time to enjoy their full glory, although there are also a few summer flowering varieties. Hansom, lovers of slightly acid soil their beauty is unmatched, there are a few varieties that will cope with neutral to slightly alkaline soils. There are even some smaller varieties on offer so they can become the specimen shrub in smaller gardens. Here are a few to consider.

 Magnolia x brooklynenis 'Yellow Bird'

Magnolia x brooklynenis ‘Yellow Bird’

M x brooklynensis ‘Yellow Bird’: A large deciduous shrub which starts life with a conical habit before maturing into a wide speeding shrub, that needs the room. It has mid-green leaves, with large cup shaped flowers of soft yellow up to 15cm across in late spring. Needs a good humus rich soil which holds moisture in part shade.

 Magnolia grandiflora 'Exmouth'

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’

M.grandiflors ‘Exmouth’: A large shrub of elegant pyramidal habit, which is evergreen with glossy dark green leaves with brown felt under sides, this is a stunning magnolia. It has large floppy, creamy white, highly fragrant flowers, which are born intermittently from July to September. Grow in full sun in a humus rich soil, do not allow to dry out.

 Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra'

Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra

M. liliiflora ‘Nigra’: A large shrub, with a dense upright habit, this large shrub or small trees makes a wonderful statement plant. Deciduous with mid-green foliage. Dramatic Purple tulip flowers are held upright on the stems from May to June with some extra flowering in August. Slightly acid soil with good leaf mould. Part-shade.

 Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'

Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’

M. x Leonard Messel: A large deciduous shrub or if pruned to be a small tree. With mid-green foliage. Flowers are star shaped, which are dark pink in bud but open into a gentle soft pink. This is one of the few magnolias that can cope with chalk. Grow in part shade for best results and add lots of humus and do not allow to dry out.

Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata

M. Stellata: This is a small garden favourite, with a compact habit this small to medulla sized shrub is a good choice for a lot of gardens. It is deciduous with an elegant habit and good green foliage. White star shaped flowers are produces, April-May and it grows well in chalky gardens, as long as it is not allowed to dry out. Grow in part shade.

Magnolia x Soulangeana

Magnolia x Soulangeana ‘Lennei’

M. x soulangeana ‘Lennei’: A large vigorous shrub with spreading habit, it needs room to get to it’s full glory. It has large leaves up to 25cm across. With big fleshy goblet shaped rose-pink flowers which are creamy white inside. Flowers April to May and again some flowers in October. A good humus rich soil in part shade.

 Magnolia tripetale

Magnolia tripetale

M.tripetale: A small deciduous tree with an umbrella like habit. With huge leaves and strongly scented creamy yellow flowers from May to June. Followed by clusters of red fruits. Grow in part shade in a rich soil and do not allow to dry out.

 Stunning Magnolias spring is not complete without them!

Stunning Magnolias spring is not complete without them!

I hope you are feeling inspired to plant your own Magnolia, they really are the most magnificent addition to the spring garden.

If you would like help, planning and planting a spring boarder, I know just the person who can help. Give Emily a ring on 01273 470753.

Container Gardening

 container gardening

container gardening

Of course the best place for plants is in the ground, but if your garden is a small paved courtyard, or a a bit of pavement by the front door or even a balcony, then pots and containers will form your garden. The container garden can be a vibrant and stunningly beautiful place with good plant choices and containers and growing medium to match the plant requirements, you can create a wonderful garden.

 Pots of vegetables

Pots of vegetables

A few golden rules: Think about your pots/containers carefully, bigger is better, they will dry out less quickly and the growing medium will not get exhausted as quickly either. Funky shapes with bulging sides and narrow necks look great, but are a real problem when the time comes to re-pot your beloved specimen into a larger pot. Pottery and terracotta look lovely and are very traditional but areĀ  heavy so it you have seasonal displays or you want to move pots about after they have flowered or into a more shelter position for the winter months, they can be very heavy. Also be warned even frost proof terracotta can ‘blow’ in a very cold winter. So consider lighter weight options such as ,GRP, plastic planters, Resin-stone composite, from www.potsofplanters.co.uk Also the plant will need regular turning say once a week so the growth is even all the way round. It is also important to think about the colour of your containers, all in a similar hues, shades of blue for example, or traditional colours or contrasts, and consider the colours of foliage and flowering colour going in them. There is lots to think about,

 mix and match colour, size and shape of containers

mix and match colour, size and shape of containers

Container gardening has advantages as there is possibly less weeding and less chance plants are going to grow beyond the size you want. But it dose mean diligent planning of watering and feeding, as you are expecting your plant to put in a top performance on limited resources. For extensive container gardens a simple irrigation system running off an out side tap may well be the answer.

The other main point to consider is that for most container gardens, a few plants have to do a lot of work, as normally they are small areas so you want a plant that looks good all year round. For that reason all the plants I am going to suggest here are evergreen with good foliage as well as flower.

 Camellia x vernalis 'Yuletide'

Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’

Camellia x vernalis’Yuletide’: This is a ‘must have’ camellia, it grows well in a container and will brighten any semi shady shelter corner. It is moderately slow growing with dark green shiny leaves and small single red flowers with a mass of golden stamens and it flower intermittently from mid -October the the end of January. Plant in a good ericaceous compost, top dress with bark chip feed with ericaceous plant feed and most important of all keep it moist.

 Rhododendron 'President Roosevelt'

Rhododendron ‘President Roosevelt’

Rhododendron ‘President Roosevelt’: This is a hansom Rhododendron and makes a very good container specimen with large green leaves with a vibrant golden splash in the middle. It produces cluster of deep pink/soft red flowers with a deep white throat, mid March to early May. The same growing conditions as above, in semi-shade. PLEASE NOTE with both camellias and Rhododendrons it is very important to keep them well watered in the summer months as this is when they produce flower buds for the next year.

 Phyllostachys nigra

Phyllostachys nigra

Phyllostachys nigra: This is a statuesque bamboo, that can thrive in a container, with tall upright stems up to 2m and above, the green stems when mature turn a shiny black, with rustling mid-green foliage, keep it in a more sheltered position so the leaves do not get scorched in the winter winds. Semi-shade it will struggle in full sun. A good humus rich compost, keep moist.

 Laurus nobillis

Laurus nobillis

Laurus nobillis: The humble Bay, but what a wonderful container plant it makes especially if clipped into an elegant cone. Glossy dark foliage a great foil for seasonal bedding. A must have addition to many Italian recipes, it deserves its place in the container garden. Good multi-purpose growing medium, will cope with some drying out, full sun or dappled shade.

 Lavendula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

Lavendula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’

Lavendula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’: A small neat lavender with silvery foliage, and short flower stems of dark purple lavender flowers from June to mid August. Wonderful for the bees and insect life, brilliant for adding scent to your container garden. A great ingredient in home baking and as lavender bags to keep the months out of your woollen jumpers. A must for a sunny spot. A good multi-purpose compost, add 2 parts grit, and keep on the drier side, grows well in full sun.

 Phormium cookianum 'Flamingo'

Phormium cookianum ‘Flamingo’

Phormium cookianum ‘Flamingo’: Adds a bit of drama to your container garden. Grows well in a container, with soft arching leaves up to 70cm tall, with central mid-green and cream stripes, giving way to pink and red edges. This shrub looks good year long. Grow in good multi-purpose compost, add good crocks to aid drainage, but keep moist, best in full sun, but will cope with some shade.

olystichum polyblepharum

olystichum polyblepharum

Polystichum polyblepharum: a hansom fern for a shady to semi-shady spot. Arching fronds up to 50cm tall, mid green, with yellow edging hairs and in spring dramatic shuttle cocks of new growth. A humus rich compost, slightly acidic and keep damp.

 dramatic planted containers

dramatic planted containers

I think it is important for a good container garden to have a good back bone of dramatic evergreen shrubs of different heights and textures and to add seasonal colour with small pots of bedding and bulbs to ring the changes. I hope I have inspired you to get creative, no matter how small your outside space is, there is always room for a garden.

Winter Walls

Winter Wall

 The joy of winter walls

The joy of winter walls

When everything has died back the winter garden can look a bleak place, particularly in a small garden when boundaries can dominate, and you may feel the view from the kitchen window, is just of the fence. But there are varying climbers and wall shrubs that can enhance the winter garden and come into their own with delicate flowers and fine scents. Here are a few to consider.

 Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens 'Freckles'

Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’

Clematis cirrhosa var.purpurascens ‘Frekles’: This is a vigorous clematis, with fine feathery evergreen foliage and very delicate creamy white nodding bell like flowers, flecked with red spots. It flowers intermittently from October to January. The roots should be in a shady spot with a good moisture retentive soil in full sun.

Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’: When grown as a wall shrub, this Garrya is a hansom specimen, with evergreen,dense, dark green holly like foliage. This male form has long dramatic greenie grey catkins in February to March. A good humus rich soil in sun to part-shade.

 Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasminum nudiflorum: The winter flowering jasmine is the main stay of clothing winter walls, it produced a scraggy shrub, which responds well to being clipped into order. The bare green stems produce small buttercup yellow flowers from December to early March. Sun to part shade on almost all soils.

 Chaenomeles x superba 'Crimson and Gold'

Chaenomeles x superba ‘Crimson and Gold’

Chaenomeles x superba ‘Crimson and Gold’: One of the must dramatic of the ornamental quinces, this wall shrub can grow in to a hansom large specimen engulfing a large wall or can be neatly trimmed to fit round a front door. A deciduous shrub with neat gloss dark green foliage, bright red flowers with rich golden stamens are held on the bare branches from mid February to mid -March. Golden fruits appear late summer into the autumn. It will tolerate most soils, but dose not like drying out, on thin dry chalk it will need feeding well. Grows best in full sun, but will tolerate a bit of shade.

 Camellia 'Cornish Snow'

Camellia ‘Cornish Snow’

Camellia ‘Cornish snow’: This is a very reliable Camellia and an old favourite that has a vigorous habit and will do very well trained up a sheltered wall. Glossy green evergreen foliage with clear white cup shaped single flowers, February to March. Good humus rich soil which is slightly acidic, do not let dry out. Grow in semi shade and not on an east wall.

 Lonicera fragrantissima x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'

Lonicera fragrantissima x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’

Lonicera fragrantissima x purpusii’Winter Beauty’: This is a shrub form of Lonicers not to be confused with the climbing ‘honeysuckle’ It will make a slightly shaggy wall shrub with mid green foliage. Highly scented small cream flowers appear on bare stems from December to February, will grow in most soils, do not let it dry out at the foot of a wall or fence, full sun to part shade.

Winter wall shrubs

Winter wall shrubs

So rather than having a view from your kitchen window in January of a bare fence, get inspired and get planting.

If you need help planning and planting a new area of your garden, I know just he woman to help you. Give Emily a ring on 01273 470753.

Colourful Winter Stems

A mass of winter stems

A mass of winter stems

Colour in the garden can be created in many ways and although flowers are the most obvious, foliage and even stems can produce dramatic effects. None more so, than in the winter garden with thundery skies and low sun. The coppiced new growth of a number of shrubs can be truly striking. Here are just a few suggestions to wet you appetite.

 Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’

C. sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’: This variety of the native cornus, really packs a punch, the stems do produce a flame effect, with the lower section in rich shinning orange giving way to yellow tips of the younger growth, planted on mass with an evergreen back drop, this shrub sings out on a winter day.

 Cornus sericea 'Flarivamea'

Cornus sericea ‘Flarivamea’

C. sericea ‘Flariramea’: One of the best ‘yellow’ dog woods, this creeping shrub produces dense thickets of coppiced green-yellow stems, looking dramatic in the winter light.

Cornus sericea 'Kelseyi'

Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’

C. sericea ‘Kelseyi’: This variety is a good selection for the smaller garden growing to 45/60cm tall, it has golden stems, as with all cornus the new growth gives the best colour.

 Salix alba 'Golden Ness'

Salix alba ‘Golden Ness’

Salix alba ‘Golden Ness’: A vigorous grower makes dense clumps of coppiced stems up to 1.4/2m tall a rich golden colour, a wonderful contrast with groups of other colour stems like C. singuinea. Coppice regularly for best colour and to keep in check.

 Salix alba 'Yelverton'

Salix alba ‘Yelverton’

S. alba ‘ Yelverton’: This is the brightest pure orange of the salix, to grow as a winter stem, as with all Salix it is vigorous and if you don’t want a tree in the middle of the flower bed keep on top of your coppicing.

Rubus thibetanus

Rubus thibetanus

Rubus thibetanus ‘Sliver Fern’: It is a bit of a wild card, growing a black berry as a plant in a boarder rather than for fruit, will have most gardeners running to the hills with fright. But if you have the space and you are good at keeping on top of your garden maintenance then this is a truly striking plant. Tall arching stems 1.5m or taller, produced in dense suckering thickets. The stems are a beautiful dark blue/black with a white bloom and look truly dramatic when added to the rest of a winter stem garden. They look particularly good when under planted with winter flowering Ericas of hellebores. Cut out old stems in early spring and reduce the clump by ta 1/3, every April/ May to keep things under control, also reduce the length of stems in July/August.

Colourful winter stems

Colourful winter stems

The trick to growing winter stems for best colour is to have a strict coppicing system in place. This is for the Cornus and Salix. All the best colour is on new growth. There are two schools of thoughts about how to deal with this. 1) is you cut all the stems on every plant down to 200mm above ground level at the beginning of March. Or you selectively prune. 2) If you have the room to have a massive area of stems then perhaps cut one 1/3 of your plants down as above one year and then the other 2 areas over the next two years. 3) If you have a small garden and you only have one or 2 plants of each variety then consider dividing the plant into 3 and prune over a number of years as per point 2.

Winter stem planting

Winter stem planting

Remember when positioning colour stems the best results are had when having the morning or evening sun shinning on the stems. Or decide to have an evergreen back drop to the groups of stems so the colours glow and can be truly appreciated.

If you would like help producing a winter boarder call Emily 01273 470753.

Marvellous Mahonias

Mahonias as part of a mixed winter planting

Mahonias as part of a mixed winter planting

Mahonias are a wonderful shrub, not only acting as good screening, or boundary planting, but also as a glossy evergreen back drop to flowering perennial through the seasons. But they really come into their own during the mid-winter months, with dramatic and scented flowers. Here are a few of the many varieties on offer.

M. japonica

M. japonica

M.japonica: A large vigorous shrub, up to 1.5m in 5years. With stout stems and upright growth. A very good shrub for boundary planting. The leaves as with all Mahonias are held in spiral rosettes. With large pinnate leaves a glossy mid-green. Scented pendulous racemes of yellow flowers, December to March. Grows in most soils except dry shallow chalk. Sun part shade.

M.aquifolium'Apollo'

M.aquifolium’Apollo’

M. aquifolium ‘Apollo’: Often called the ‘Oregon grape’ as it sprawls along the wind swept coast of it’s native habitat. This more zooped up version of M. aquifolium, is a wonderful garden plant which makes a small spreading shrub, great for ground cover. It has small groups of stumpy pinnate leaves, which turn tints of wine red in the winter months. It has small clusters of golden flowers in March to April. It grows well in shade.

M.media 'Winter Sun'

M.media ‘Winter Sun’

M.media ‘Winter Sun’: A large shrub with upright habit, makes a dramatic back drop to the winter garden. Large spiny pinnate leaves of dark green, with clear yellow racemes of flowers held erect on the centre of the rosettes of leaves. The flowers are very fragrant, a must for planting near the back door or route to the garage. Flowers January to March. Grows well in semi-shade in any water retentive soil.

M.nervosa

M.nervosa

M.nervosea: A dwarf Mahonia, producing a low suckering shrub, ideal for a small garden at only 45cm tall. It has small pinnate leaves to 5cm, which turn a vivid red in the cooler winter months. It flowers late spring into April, with long golden racemes of 20cm. It will grow well in semi-shaded in most soils.

M. japonica Bealei Group

M. japonica Bealei Group

M. japonica Bealei Group: A large shrub up to 2m tall and above, with erect strong stems. With rosettes of medium length deeply toothed mid-green leaves. Short racemes of pale lemon flowers are produced in December to February. This shrub makes a good back bone to a mixed planting. Will grow in most soils, with good moisture, sun or part shade.

 M. x wagneri Pinnacle

M. x wagneri Pinnacle

M. x wagneri Pinnacle: A large striking shrub, with lightly toothed pinnate leaves of mid -green which are a dramatic bronze when young. Golden flowers are produced in dense upright racemes in mid spring, March to April.
* 8 lots of Mahonias.

Rejuvenating Mature Mahonias; although undoubtedly one of the reasons for planting mahonias, is their vigorous upright habit, particularly if you are using them for screening. There is the chance particularly in smaller gardens that you can be looking at a lot of tall ugly stems with a small cluster of leaves on top and the flowers far above sight and well and truly above nose level for catching that striking scent. But Mahonias respond well to pruning, it is best to rejuvenate your shrub over a number of years, a 1/3 at a time. After flowering so late March approximately, before leaf busts, cut down one third of the stems to the required height, just above an old leaf junction, these can be clearly seen in the form of lines and dots encircling the stem. Over the coming growing season the stem should produce a new leaf cluster just below the cut. Repeat the process section by section over the whole shrub over the coming years. If you want to ring the changes, so perhaps having taller stems towards the back of the shrub for screening but leaf and flowers on lower stems at the front, prune accordingly.

 Mahonias on mass

Mahonias on mass

Mahonias are a versatile shrub which are often over looked as something’ green at the back of the boarder, but have far more to offer and should be planted much more widely.

If you would like help creating a winter planting scheme or just re-planting an area of your garden, mid -winter is right slap in the middle of the planting season and now is the time to do it. I know just the person to help you, give Emily a call on 01273 470753.

Autumn Bulbs

A mass of autumn crocus

A mass of autumn crocus

Most people think bulbs are all about the spring, but in fact they can put on a good show in the autumn, Whether autumn crocus planted in sweeps in longer grass or in pots. or striking Nerines planted in flowers beds. These bulbs add a much need splash of late flower colour to the autumn garden.

Nerines are not fully hardy, but in a shelter spot in the south eastern corner of England, planted hard up against a south facing wall, where they can be suitably baked and in gritty free free draining soil, they should do very well. Otherwise they will grow well in tall pots of at least 10 to 12cm tall, in a cool green house or conservatory or sunny porch.

 N. 'November Cheer'

N. ‘November Cheer’

N. November Cheer: A bare stem reaching up to 50cm tall with a wide flower cluster of the classic trumpet shaped flowers in a delicate salmon pink, late October, followed by mid green foliage.

C. cartwightianus Albus: growing to 8 to 10cm tall flowers produced before the leaves, white with delicate veining. Ideal of group planting in the front of a flower bed.

N. 'Red Pimpernal'

N. ‘Red Pimpernal’

N. Red Pimpernel: this eye popping red Nerine flowers mid to late October reaching to nearly 60cm tall, with a dense head of trumpet flowers. Followed by glossy foliage.

 C.sutivus

C.sutivus

C.sativus: the original saffron crocus, need to be planted deep at 12-15cm and needs a hot and sunny spot. The flowers are a egg yolk yellow with the important bright red stamens that are used in cooking to flavour and colour food. The growing of this crop on mass in the fens is what gives Saffron Weldon it’s name. A great looking autumn crocus which is worth growing for the flower, even if you don’t intend to use the saffron.

 N. 'White Supreme'

N. ‘White Supreme’

N.White Supreme: An elegant Nerine reach about 45cm tall October flowering with clear white flowers in large heads.

 C.speiosu

C.speiosu

C.speciosus: this is the classic autumn crocus and naturalises well, seen growing in great sweeps through grass land. Making a sea of pink-light violet flowers of up to 10/15cm tall in September -October.

 naturalising autumn crocus

naturalising autumn crocus

Crocus grow well in full sun in well drained soil. Both of these bulbs need to be ordered about August for planting late August, follow the suppliers instructions about planting, spacing and depths for individual bulb varieties.

I hope I have inspired you to add autumn bulbs to your garden planting. If you want help with revitalising an existing planting boarder or developing a whole new planting area in your garden, the autumn is the perfect time to get planning,designing and ready for winter planting. I can help you, give me, Emily a ring on 01273 470753.

Acid lovers-Shrubs that thrive in neutral to acid conditions.

Acid loving shrubs

Acid loving shrubs

If you are gardening in the weld of Sussex and Kent and other neutral to acid soils, you may feel that gardening is a strenuous contact sport. Battling waterlogged and heavy soils in the winter which can set concrete like in the summer months, this gardening is only for the most hardy, but there are many small trees and shrubs that thrive in such conditions and make all the hard work worth while. Here are just a few to consider.

Hamamellis x intermedia 'Allgold'

Hamamellis x intermedia ‘Allgold’

Hamamellis x intermedia ‘Allgold’: ‘Which Hazels’ are superb shrubs and this is one of the very best. It has an attractive habit growing to a vase like shape with spreading branches. It has round mid green leaves similar to a hazel, hence it’s common name. With good copper hues in the autumn. The main attraction are the very fragrant deep golden spider like flower held on bare twigs in mid-January to mid-February. Grows well in any neutral to acid soil that is water retentive and humus rich, but not water logged. In dappled shade.

 Pieris 'Forset Flam

Pieris ‘Forset Flam

Pieris ‘Forset Flame’: This hansom large shrub is well worth a place in any garden. With glossy dark green foliage, which has striking bright red new growth every spring held as vertical candles above the older green foliage. This new foliage, turns through pink, to white and finally to green as it matures. In April- May it is smothered in pinnacles of dropping waxy white flowers which are almost lilly of the valley like. It makes quite a sight. Grows well in Dappled shade it will tolerate full sun. in acid soil which is moisture retentive but not water logged, with a good humus content.

Fothergilla major

Fothergilla major

Fothergilla major: Is a medium sized shrub which is moderately slow growing but worth the wait. It is a deciduous shrub with round curse toothed leaves that turn a brilliant blood red in Autumn. It has smallish white bottle brush flowers in the summer. It loves a rich acid soil with good moisture and needs full sun.

Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra'

Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’

Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’: One bit of very good news about gardening on acid soils, is the whole of the Magnolia family is now at your disposal. A beautiful, multi-stem shrub or small tree, this magnolia is a show stopper, with an elegant wine goblet like habit. Mid green foliage that goes a beautiful butter yellow in autumn. In Mid -April to May, tulip shaped, dark rich purple flowers, pale white with in, held upright on the stems. It may even flower on and off right up till August. Likes full sun to a little dappled shade, humus rich neutral to acid soil.

 Kalmia latifolia 'Freckles'

Kalmia latifolia ‘Freckles’

Kalmia latifolia ‘Freckles’: A medium sized evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves. With clusters of white to pale pink flowers with delicate spots of burgundy, flowers are borne on mass in June. It is a striking display. Grows well in moisture acid soils in full sun. Caution all part of this plant are poisonous.

Cornus kousa 'Chinensis'

Cornus kousa ‘Chinensis’

Cornus kousa chinensis; This specimen shrub requires an open situation where is can be the focal point. It is a slow grower but will reward your patience ten fold.. A large shrub or small tree, it has a striking tiered like habit, with foliage held in pairs along the branches. It has rich red autumn colour. Mid summer papery white flowers are produced followed by pimply red round fruit which hang from the branches. Grows in full sun to dappled shade, and in humus rich neutral to acid soils. dramatic addition to any garden.

Dramatic planting with acid loving shrubs and Trees.

Dramatic planting with acid loving Shrubs and Trees.

So if you feel gardening on heavy acid soils has little to no rewards hopefully this will inspire you to think again about your garden.

If you need help with a planting scheme, either new or resorting an existing area, I know just the woman who can help you. Give me, Emily a call on 01273 470753. I will be delighted to talk to you about your garden project.

Restoring a Farm Yard Pond

view from Brye of over grown pond

view from Brye of over grown pond

Client’s Brief: The clients had been give planning permission to convert the Brye/Cattal shed into a dwelling and part of the planning permission was that the disused farm pond behind the Brye should be restored, using natural materials where possible and be planted with native plant species to encourage wildlife back into the pond garden, to produce a functioning habitat. There should be access from the new car park on the higher level above the flint retaining wall and access from the back door of the Brye, as well as the 1m wide side access. The pond and it’s planting should sit the Brye into it’s restored landscape, with a simple jetty out over the water.

before designing beings

before designing beings

Site: The clients had moved into a converted barn next to the Brye, the previous owners had converted the barn and a lot of the rubbish had been dumped in the farm pond. The site was completely over grown, with an existing planted weeping willow tree and a number of other self sown saplings, including hazel, field maple and elm, which sadly was diseased, crowding the edge of the pond. The main body of the pond did not hold water any more despite the high water table and was filled with a lot of building rubble and the side boundary was edged by a ruinous flint wall.

view of pond from Brye before landscaping begins

view of pond from Brye before landscaping begins

Site constraints: The access was challenging being only 1m wide by the side of the Brye. The Willow although a beautiful tree, had it’s roots growing into the pond. No one had any idea how much rubbish was in the pond and how deep it may be. The high water table was a great concern, and would need to be taken into account. The Brye was a good 1.5m above the level of the pond, and in places the pond edge was very close to the boundary, not allowing much room to grade slopes down to the waters edge. The pond had to be restored to the exact same shape and over all depth. The natural constraints which were put on the project by South Downs National Park, we had to make sure we used natural materials, that the disturbance of existing wildlife would be to the minimum and they had a tight rein on the native planting that could be used.

Designing the pond. The first thing to do was to have an ecological survey carried out over 6 weeks to assess what wild life was present. Also a topographic in-depth survey was carried out. Armed with this information and with the clients brief, I was able to start work on designing the project which would still have to go back to the planners. Luckily for the clients there was sadly not much in the way of wildlife present, including the rare great crested newt which would have been amazing to have in your garden, but would have made for an impossibly expensive build.

 

The first challenge was the difference in height, round the Brye and getting access to the garden. So a set of brick steps lead down by the flint wall from the car park to a Broadwalk, with a set of steps up from the Broadwalk to the back door and a set of steps down onto the sloping lawn round the pond. Wood was used as a Broadwalk as the client particularly liked this material and a wooden walkway had passed the initial planning that had been put in years before by the previous owners. Sadly planners change and so do tastes, so it was rejected so a new design of a brick path with brick steps into the garden was produced.

 rubble etc. removed from pond.

rubble etc. removed from pond.

The next was concern about the high water level and the Willow. SDNP planning said they were happy for natural ponds to now have a butyl liner over spread with puddling clay and this is how they restore dew ponds on the Downs. The Willow, was going to have to be root pruned and then have some very strong root barrier placed round the roots on the pond side of the tree. Under pond drainage was need with a pump, to remove excess water from under the liner, this was managed with a pump and floatation devise to keep the water table level below the liner level.

putting pipe work in.

putting pipe work in.

Restoring habitat to the pond. A wide planting shelf of up to 2m wide was to be constructed all the way round the pond and would gentle slope down so there could be different depth planting zones for the aquatic plants. A large bog garden area lined with puddling clay was created so that it could become an over flow area for water above the pond water level, particularly in the winter months when there was more rain. Areas of native shrub and understory planting were designed round the pond to create different habitats. The areas of grass were to have different moving treatments, with different grass lengths and some kept long through the winter months, to produce as many different habitats as possible. Piles of cut grass would be left through the winter months for invertebrates to hibernate and small mammals. The whole ethos of the design was to create new and varying habitats.

 spreading clay liner

spreading clay liner

The clients enjoyment in the new garden: In amongst all the thoughts on native planting and natural build processes, it was important to remember the clients, their family and their clients who would be using the garden, so they could all interact with it fully. Hence the wooden jetty, leading through the bog planting over the water. Also meandering grass paths cut through the meadow grass, leading down to the waters edge and round the blog planting. There will be simple seats set in quite niches where the pond life can be enjoyed.

 puddling clay spread over the pond surface.

puddling clay spread over the pond surface.

Landscaping: It was decide to use a SDNP recommend pond contractor for this very specialist project. It was important that the project was carried out over the dormant season, for both the existing plants and any wildlife, also so the winter rains could naturally fill the new pond.

 moving soil round the site

moving soil round the site

Access was the first problem to be solved. It was decide that a large ramp in earth and hard core should be created, over the top of the flint wall. This allowed the empty top garden to be used as a working area and gave access for the large machines needed to clear the pond and start the processes of re-shaping and grading the pond.

 moving soil around in the working top garden

moving soil around in the working top garden

Once the shape had been produced,all the pipe work needed to be put in place, this was not just the under pond drainage and pump but also a large rain harvest tank which was to collect water from the roof of the Brye and would be used to top up the water level in the pond.

 soil and rubble from the pond being stacked.

soil and rubble from the pond being stacked.

Next the underlay, butyl liner were to go in, next was 80 tones of pudding clay. Unfortunately as this work started what had been a record hot summer and very dry autumn gave way to some very heavy rain, just as the clay arrived, the site turned into a very muddy and difficult place to work.

 putting foundation stones in for the jetty.

putting foundation stones in for the jetty.

As the pond team struggled on they finally managed to finish the landscaping of the pond including putting the large sandstone foundation stones in place ready for the green oak jetty. The jetty had been build to an Arcadia design by a skilled set of carpenter, with no metal fixings below the water level.

Now the pond was ready to fill up and ready for May planting.

 finished pond

finished pond

May Pond Planting: The pond was planted in mid May right at the start of the pond planting season. All the native plants arrived from a local trade nursery that specialises in growing their own water plants. The pond had been pumped out a few days before hand so the water level was just below the planting shelf.

 pond, with water level dropped ready for planting.

pond, with water level dropped ready for planting.

The first plants to be planted were the lilies and other floaters, that had been planted in aquatic baskets. The baskets are lowered to the pond bottom on ropes. The next to be planted are free-floating floaters, these are plants like water soldiers, these are thrown out into the water round the edge of the pond and will float around the surface moving on a gust of wind.

 pond plants arrive.

pond plants arrive.

Then the all important oxygenators are planted, these are in bunches with small metal weights on, again you walk round the pond throwing them in, slowly they sink just below the surface.

lily baskets ready for planting with planting ropes.

lily baskets ready for planting with planting ropes.

The next plants to be planted are the marginal aquatics, the planting areas were marked out on the planting shelf round the pond. The shelf may be nearly 2m wide in places but the plants were to be planted on only 1.5 m wide sections of the shelf and in blocked areas. Native pound plants are very vigorous and can be invasive, so they would easily spread over time.

planting floaters in baskets.

planting floaters in baskets.

Then each area of marginal planting is set out in accordance with the planting plan, and the plants, planted. Each evening as these are water plants and need more water, all the newly planted plants were watered with a sprinkler and the remaining plants waiting to be plated which were in the shed of the willow, to keep them damp at all times.

planting marginal aquatics

planting marginal aquatics

Once all the marginal plants were planted, the bog garden was set out and planted.

marginal aquatics

marginal aquatics

Now the pond is being filled up, and all the clients have to do is watch the new plants grow and breath live into their newly restored farm pond over the coming growing season.

 planting bog plants

planting bog plants

If you would like help and advise on creating a wildlife pond, I know just the person to help you! Give Emily a ring on 01273 470753, to discuss all your pond needs.

 pond planting completed.

pond planting completed.

Coastal Planting

dramatic coastal planting

dramatic coastal planting

Living by the sea, has many advantages, bracing walks and fine views amongst them, but many find gardening in exposed coastal areas a challenge. But it is still possible to have a garden, that can be fully enjoyed and planted with dramatic planting. Here are some plants that cope well with salt laden winds and the hash environment of the sea side garden.

Hippophae rhamnoides

Hippophae rhamnoides

Hippophea rhamnoides: This is a hardy deciduous upright shrub, that lives up to it’s common name of ‘Sea Buckthorne’ .It can become a large shrub or even a small tree and is ideal as a first defence against sea winds. It has an open habit, with thorny dark brown branches and narrow sliver leaves. Late summer clusters of small round orange berries are produced along the branches and persist long into winter. Will tolerant most soils, but is not keen on waterlogging.

Tamarix pentandra 'Rubra'

Tamarix pentandra ‘Rubra’

Tamarix ramosissima Rubra: This seaside classic, produces a large upright shrub with slightly sprawling habit. It has fine mid green foliage borne on shiny brown branches and is deciduous. It is covered in fluffy pinkish red sprays of flowers from August into September. It copes well with sea winds and again is a good shrub to plant around the boundaries of your seaside garden. Grows on most free draining soils, sunny aspect.

 Cistus x purpurens

Cistus x purpurens

Cistus x purpurea: This beautiful medium sized evergreen shrub, grows into a mound of aromatic grey green foliage which is slightly sticky to the touch. It produces large pink/purple saucer shaped flowers. Bourne freely from June to July. It does well in seaside gardens and can cope with sea winds. Grows in any free draining soil. Full sun.

Brachyglottis 'Sunshine'

Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’

Brachyglottis (Senecio) ‘Sunshine’: This is a must have for any coastal garden, with it’s ability to cope with sea salt and strong winds. A low growing evergreen shrub with a mound habit but happy to spread. Of sliver slightly furry leaves, and clusters of brilliant sunshine yellow daisy like flowers from June to September. Good free draining soil. Full sun.

Centhranthus ruber

Centhranthus ruber

Centranthus ruber: No seaside garden would be complete with out this very pushy and hardy herbaceous plant, it will grow almost any where and with only the merest suggestion of soil, from cracks in the pavement to on shingle banks at the top of the beach. Some may consider it a weed, but a very stunning one it is. Upright growth of mid green with almost succulent mid green leaves, and pink/red wide heads of clustered small flowers freely borne from May up to the first frosts. It is not that long lived, but as it seeds freely, it will always be present. Sunny position, free draining soil.

Eryrgium maritimum

Eryrgium maritimum

Eryrigium maritimum: ‘Sea Holly’ A stunning statement herbaceous plant for any coastal garden. Mid green, and sliver spiky leaves make a base pad from which tall branches of stems with smaller spiky leaves almost like brats emerge, Small multiple thistle like flower heads appear from July, the stems below and flowers turning a silvery blue. The colour and thistles will last into late summer. Full sun, free draining soil.

the very best of seaside planting.

the very best of seaside planting.

These plants will cope well in seaside sites, the trick of planting by the coast is to layer your planting and get good planted wind barriers in place to help protect some areas of the garden, this can of course be a bit of a challenge if you still want your sea view as well. But it is possible to have stunning seaside gardens and great views and even the odd nock out of the wind as a spot to have a patio and garden bench. I hope this has inspired you to think of the potential of your coastal garden. If you need help to create your seaside garden then do give me a ring Tel:01273 470753.

I would be delighted to discuss your garden project with you.