Plums and GreenGages – The taste of High Summer!

 

The joy of growing and picking your own fruit!

The joy of growing and picking your own fruit!

There has to be nothing quite like picking a ripe, juice laden plum from a tree in your own garden, to make the heart quicken a little in all gardeners. While vegetable gardening is hard work, fruit growing is retentively easy and the most work you will have, will be in the harvesting. Here are some firm favourites

Plum opal

Plum opal

Plum Opal: Oval medium sized fruit, yellow with a purple flush and a strong sweet flavour. Middle of August, good reliable cropper. Partially self-fertile.

Green Gage

Green Gage

Green Gage: The original old gage. Small very juicy round green fruit, with a rich sweet aroma. Produced mid-season, end July early August. Partially self -fertile.

Plum Victoria

Plum Victoria

Victoria Plum: A firm old favourite. Medium sized fruits rosy pink, with blue bloom, sweet yellow juicy flesh. Harvey regular cropper. Dual use, cooking or dessert. Late August -early September. Self-fertile.

Cambridge Gage

Cambridge Gage

Cambridge Gage: Green/yellow round fruit, very juicy sweet yellow flesh,. An excellent early gage, a prolific cropper. Early August. Pollinators Laxton gage, Merryweather Damson.

Plum Marjorie's Seedling

Plum Marjorie’s Seedling

Plum Marjories Seedling: Enormous blue/black plums with blue/grey bloom. Yellow juicy flesh. Cooker, excellent bottling plum. When very ripe easily good enough to eat straight from the tree, as a dessert plum. Late, end September into October, and the fruit can last on the tree into November. Self -fertile.

 Luxton Gage

Luxton Gage

Laxton Gage: A large green fruit with yellow/green sweet flesh. Good cropper, Mid August. Self-fertile.

The taste of High Summer. Enjoy!

The taste of High Summer. Enjoy!

Now is the time, to make your selections, taste your way through different variates growing in friends gardens, taking notes of the ones you want to grow. Most come on dwarfing root stock, so are suitable for a small garden and a lot are self-fertile, so you don’t need the added room for a pollinator tree. Order your trees early autumn for winter delivery and planting. Top tip, Stone fruit like lime, so if your soil is heavier, then add some lime.

This is the time of year when the crop begins to ripen for early gages and plums are just around the corner. Enjoy!

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.

A Traditional Cottage Garden, in Lewes, Sussex

 

 Before work starts

Before work starts

Site: A small walled town garden, with existing brick paths, some now very uneven. With large boundary trees and shrubs. A dark terrace set in the shady section of the garden and overgrown with a large grape vine dwarfing a wooden pergola. Also an existing, leaking concrete pool and mature but overgrown planting in places. The aspect of the site is north facing getting both morning and afternoon sun. With a chalky soil which has been cultivated for many years, but now needs feeding. One side of the garden is next to a busy road, and street furniture needs to be screened from the garden, also the bottom boundary has a large office building, overlooking the garden.

 The morning the tree work and crown lifting are to start.

The morning the tree work and crown lifting are to start.

Client Brief: To produce a traditional garden reusing as much of the existing materials as possible and to produce a design that would be in keeping with an old town house and the walled garden. A cottage garden style of planting was wanted but with the amount of maintenance being kept to a minimum. Also room for a new bike store and a terrace that was in the sun and could sit 6.

 clearance work is finishing and the setting out of the site and foundations for the paving are being laid

clearance work is finishing and the setting out of the site and foundations for the paving are being laid

Design Solution: The old paths next to the house were to be removed and planting was added to the base of the house where possible. A new wider brick path, using the existing bricks was to run the length of the back of the house and be edged by a generous border of roses and mixed planting, with a set of Arches framing the entrance from the kitchen french windows out onto the lawn. A new square terrace for 6 to dine, edged with scented planting, was set outside the study next to the existing concrete pool, which was to be refurbished. The Terrace was now set to get some of the early morning sun and most importantly the evening sun. A lot of the overgrown shrubs were to be removed to allow for new planting and to ‘rescue’ some choice specimens including a beautiful Cornus as a small tree, which was to have an existing  bench set undernether. Removing the large terrace in the shade, meant a central section of the garden could be returned to lawn, giving a greater sense of space in the garden. A new brick stepping stone path leads from the back door down to the back gate. The bike store is hidden at the back of the biggest border, which in time will be screened by large evergreen shrubs.

treated soft wood timber arrives for the Arches and for the made to measure trellis panels.

treated softwood timber arrives for the Arches and for the made to measure trellis panels.

Landscaping: A number of teams with different specialisms were needed for this site. First the Arboriculturists arrived to remove a lot of the over -grown shrubs and stump grind out their bases, they also crown lifted a large Sycamore that dominates the garden and removed the dead from a central ornamental pear ( Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’).

Trellis panels are being erected on the back boundary wall to add privacy from neighbouring offices.

Trellis panels are being erected on the back boundary wall to add privacy from neighbouring offices.

Then the hard landscaping was carried out by Ross and his team of landscapers. First lifting all the existing bricks used in the garden and working their way through them to decide what could and could not be re-used.

The 2 Arches are built, ready for staining.

The 2 Arches are built, ready for staining.

The brick paths were to look as traditional as possible so were butt jointed stretcher bonded, with the terrace edged with lines of brick on edge and basket wave pattern in the centre. There were not enough bricks for all of the paths, so it was decided to get new bricks which matched as near as possible the existing bricks and use these new bricks to build the brick stepping stone path. Ross and his team carefully roughed the edges of the bricks, so they did not look so new before laying them. The effect is very good and I feel sure that in a few years it will be hard to spot the difference between the old and new.

The stepping stone brick path and solid path section leading from the back door to the gate.

The stepping stone brick path and solid path section leading from the back door to the gate.

The building of the bike store, softwood arches and the refurbishing of the pool got under way. The pool was given a new brick edge to link it with the rest of the design, a new pump and filter system and the inlet and overflow sorted, this solved the leaking problem and all the new work was painted in G4 to keep it water tight. A new softwood trellis with squares of 80/85mm, was put up along the bottom boundary to aid privacy from the office block.

The new brick terrace is nearly complete, the existing pool is ready for it's new edging course, pump and filter.

The new brick terrace is nearly complete, the existing pool is ready for it’s new edging course, restoration, pump and filter.

At last all the hard landscape was nearly finished and Richard and his team arrived to start work on the soft landscaping, with the preparation of the planting beds, with ever-edge going in and compost being dug into the beds. Rotavating the existing lawn area and new top soil in places and raking to new levels.

 The plants arrive

The plants arrive

Now for the existing bit, The planting, all the plants arrived from one good local nursery where a large number are grown on the nursery and nearly all the other stock is British grow and the Roses arrived from the specialist rose grower. I had chosen new English Roses so they have all the scent and beauty of old fashioned roses but some good disease resistance and most importantly good repeat flowering. For the arches small cluster rambling roses are being planted. I set to work planting the garden, with the sunny borders filled with sun loving roses, lavender, breaded Iris, Paeony and salvias to name a few. The large shady beds and woodland end of the garden, filled with ferns, solamans seal, hellebores, Anemones and many many more. So even though the garden is not large, measuring just 15m x 20m, different areas have a very different feel, so there is the ability to sunbath, or tuck yourself away on a bench under a tree in the dappled shade.

Tree planting, heping to screen the street lamp over the garden wall

Tree planting, heping to screen the street lamp over the garden wall

The final furlong of course is the lawn, Richard and his team returned, once the planting and mulching was completed to put down the turf and produce the new lawn.

The lawn has just been laid. The finish garden from the back door.

The lawn has just been laid. The finish garden from the back door.

Now all is needed is for the plants to grow and for the clients to enjoy their new garden after 2 months of build with a few delays due to the snow.

 Views of the new garden from the corner near the bike store back to the house over the peacock bench.

Views of the new garden from the corner near the bike store back to the house over the peacock bench.

View over the pool and main terrace.

View over the pool and main terrace.

Paeonias-Flowering Beauty

 

 A mass of paeonia colour.

A mass of paeonia colour.

Nothing says mid-summer exuberance in the garden quite like peonias, whether the herbaceous or the shrub/tree paeonia, their fleeting beauty is to be embraced and celerbrated. Here are just a few suggestions.

 P. delavayi f. Lutea

P. delavayi f. Lutea

Paeonia delavayi f. lutea: This wonderful tree paeonia, it may be a little on the slow side but it is worth the wait. A great addition to the back of the border. Tall up right steam reaching to 2m or above, in dense thickets, with new growth of red stems and deeply cut  leaves. Large tea-plate size sulphur yellow flowers are born freely from late May into June. Grow in full sun and it will be happy in free draining soil from acid to alkaline.

P. officinallis ‘Rubra Plena’

Paeonia officinallis Rubra Plena: Perhaps the most common of garden grown paeonias, this herbaceous paeonia grows to 60/75cm tall, making a sturdy upright clump, with mid green leaves. These crimson double flowers are a splash of colour for the middle of the border. Flowering May to June. Full sum well drained soil.

 P. lactiflora 'Bowl of Beauty'

P. lactiflora ‘Bowl of Beauty’

Paeonia lactiflora Bowl of Beauty: herbaceous paeonia a strong grower to 80cm/1m tall. Mid green foliage. Large sugar pink open flowers with clusters of creamery white central petals, make this a show stopper for any planting scheme. Flowering June to July. Full sun and well drained soil.

 P.lactiflora 'White Wings'

P.lactiflora ‘White Wings’

Paeonia ‘white wings’: this wonderful elegant herbaceous paeonia with dark green palmate foliage has large open dinner plate single flowers with delicate almost paper like white petals and a mass of golden stamnes at it’s cemtre. Flowering June. All good drained soils full sun.

 P. lactiflora 'Duchess de Nemours'

P. lactiflora ‘Duchess de Nemours’

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Duchess de Nemours’: This old garden classic adds a touch of elegance to the mid summer border a stand of stems up to 1m tall with glossy mid green foliage. Large cup shaped flowers of creamy white are freely born from June to July.

Peony border with Paeonia lactiflora 'Kelway´s Supreme', Alchemilla mollis and Geranium magnificum

Peony border with Paeonia lactiflora ‘Kelway´s Supreme’, Alchemilla mollis and Geranium magnificum

They may have gone a little out of fashion in recent years, considered to be a bit ‘blousy’ and fleeting, but I would argue they are a spectacular addition to any mid- summer planting scheme, whether used in a modern block planting along side grasses and over fashionable long lasting perennials or in a more classic traditional planting, they earn their place. The Japanese revere them with Paeonia festivals, but perhaps we can just start to plant them again.

The Spring Woodland Garden.

 

the spring woodland garden.

the spring woodland garden.

The spring is when the understory of wooded areas of the garden come into their own. Whether is is just the corner under a large deciduous tree or a long wooded boundary, with the lengthening days and higher light levels reaching the woodland floor, spring is the main season of interest for these areas in the garden. There are a host of plants that produce high impact in early spring. These hardy plants then cope with the dry conditions and dense shade provided by the tree canopy above latter in the year. Here are some winning favourites.

Ribes sanginum 'White Iceicals'

Ribes sangnineum ‘White Icicle’

Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’: Medium sized upright shrub, with hairy stems and small palmate mid green leaves. The bare stems hang with long racemes of delicate white flowers in April. It copes well with semi-shade so a woodland edge shrub. Soil, fertile. Lots of leaf litter.

Epimedium x perralchicum frohneliten

Epimedium x perralchicum frohneliten

Epimedium x perraichicum Frohnleiten: A small mound shaped shrub, with mid green leaves that are heart shaped, and are bronze when young. This evergreen shrub will cope well with dappled shade and thrives in fertile soil with lots of leaf litter. Small dainty yellow flowers are born on stems above the leaves in April-May.

Geranium phaeum

Geranium phaeum

Geranium phaeum: A statuesque geranium at 80cm tall, with upright stems of mid green palmate leaves with dark chocolate splashes in the centre. This strong grower will cope well with dense shade, and will cope with dryer soils. It has small dark purple flowers mid- May onwards.

 Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius: A tall robust Hellebore at 60cm. With pea green stems and leaves. The leaves are deeply lobed with a serrated edge. Large clusters of green saucer shaped flowers, are produced from April into mid-summer. It will cope well with semi-shade but likes a humus rich soil.

Polygonatum x hybridum

Polygonatum x hybridum

Polygotatum x hybridum: Please Note, poisonous if eaten. This wonderful woodland plant adds elegance to your planting tall arching stems to 70cm high with dark green leaves in pairs along the stem. In May delicate drops of white flowers hang down from the arching stems.

Pulmonaria longifolia

Pulmonaria longifolia

Pulmonaria longifolia: A superb woodland ground cover plant, clumps of low growing leaves mid to dark green with white silvery dots. Clusters of small flowers are held on stems above the leaves and are in a vivid shade of blue. Flowering March to April. Grows in dappled to dark shade in a good fertile soil.

Tiarella 'Iron Butterfly'

Tiarella ‘Iron Butterfly’

Tiarella ‘Iron Butterfly’: this clump forming evergreen ground cover plant adds a touch of the exotic to a woodland planting mix. Clumps of palmate bronzed green leaves with dark splashes and thin stems of small neat fragrant cream pink flowers are produced in late spring. Semi-shade in fertile soil.

 the spring woodland understory.

the spring woodland understory.

When planting up a woodland area under trees always plant in small sizes or bare root, this makes it easier to plant between the roots of the trees. Also go for a more natural approach, allow the plants to flow and mix variates, to give a more wild and natural carpet effect to your planting. If you would like help with your woodland planting or any other planting advise and plans then do please give me a ring. Tel: 01273 470753 to talk to Emily about all your planting needs.

Evergreen Hedges-Great and Small.

 

 Evergreen hedges, edging and screening

Evergreen hedges, edging and screening

Hedges are an important part of any garden, from wind breaks, to dense boundary hedges, to the screening of unsightly areas like the compost heaps and shed, to dividing the garden into’rooms’, to the back drop of a border or to an ornamental hedge in it’s own right. A good hedge is a asset in any garden. The evergreen hedge has the added bonus of all year round beauty. There are many to choose from, here are a few favourites.

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata: English Yew, a traditional formal hedge, of up to nearly any height, small dark green needles as leaves, with small red cup fruits (which are poisonous to humans, as are the leaves to cattle and horses) makes a good dense hedge. It will grow on shallow chalk to acid clay and although considered slow, it is faster then you think, and can make a good hedge with in 5 to 7 years particularly if planted as a double staggered row. Sun or part shade. Cut once a year, August.

Prunus laurocerasus

Prunus laurocerasus

Prunus laurocerasus: ‘ Laural’, A good large formal hedge, large glossy emerald green leaves, followed by red/black cheery like fruit (which are poisonous to humans). A quick growing hedge, which forms a dense structure. Will grow in all moist soils and sun or part shade. Cut mid to late summer. Either with shears or a hedge trimmer, if you are worried about the look of cut leaves then you may want to tidy the cut up a bit by using secretors.

Elaeagnus x ebbingei 'Coastal Gold'

Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Coastal Gold’

Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Coastal Gold’: A good medium to large formal hedge for growing in coastal areas, as it copes well with the wind and salt. Mid green leaves, with a sliver underside and a large splash of golden yellow in the middle of the leaf, gives this hedge a wow factor and can brighten up even the darkest of winter days. Fast growing on most damp soils sun to part shade. Cut Late spring to August.

CoCotonester frigidus 'Cornubia'

Cotonester frigidus ‘Cornubia’

Cotonester frigidus ‘Cornubia’: This makes a wonder free-flowing/informal medium to large hedge. With dark green leaves, sliver underside, the new leaves are held upright on the arching branches like ‘candles’ in the early spring. Followed by clusters of white flowers May- June. However possibly the best bit is the freely born great clusters of red berries that hold on into early winter. Grow on any moist soil. Sun or part shade. Prune carefully only shortening some of the longer branches, with hand tools in December/January.

Berberis x stenophylla

Berberis x stenophylla

Berberis x stenophylla: A good medium sized free-flowing/informal hedge, with the added bounce of thrones, so good for boundary planting or problem areas. Arching branches of small neat dark green spine like leaves, with grey underside. In mid to late spring there are cascades of canary yellow flowers borne freely all the way along the stems. Followed by small blue fruits. Grows in any good moist soil and will tolerate thinner chalk. Prune late summer, taking care to keep the arching habit, prune with hand tools

.

 Hebe 'Red Edge'

Hebe ‘Red Edge’

Hebe ‘Red Edge’: This makes a neat low dense hedge, in curving mounds. Tiny grey leaves with thin red/purple edges which colour more in the cold winter, occasional small white flowers in mid to late summer. Draining soil, with some moister, humus rich. Full sun. It can be tender so do not prune hard or late in the season. Trim, mid summer.

Pittospormum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb'

Pittospormum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’: A superb low hedge, with dense burgundy purple foliage. The new grow is a striking lime green before becoming purple. Grows in sun or part shade, a good draining soil, which is humus rich. It can be tender so do not prune hard or late in the season. Trim mid summer.

 different Evergreen hedges

different Evergreen hedges

Now is a good time of year to plant an evergreen hedge, as long as the ground is not waterlogged or frozen solid, it will give it a chance to settle in before the start of the growing season. Plant either as container grown or normally a cheaper option as root ball stock.

hedge cutting

hedge cutting

Hedge cutting: Think about the time of year you are going to cut your hedge not just for the look of your hedge or what suits you, but more importantly think of the birds. A hedge is a great bird habitat from roosting, to feeding and of course nest building. So all hedge cutting should be out of the way by the second week in January and not starting again until late June or early July. If in doubt, have a look at your hedge with out disturbing the occupants and see that all nests are empty and chicks have fledged before you start the hedge cutter.

 small hedges, for edging.

small hedges, for edging.

So I hope I have inspired you to get out there and plan where your new hedge is going and to get planting. For all aspects of planting design I am happy to help, just give me a ring. 01273 470753.

The First Flowers of the New Year- The Snowdrop.

 

Carpets of Snowdrops.

Carpets of Snowdrops.

As winter is beginning to turn the corner and the days are beginning to stretch, the first signs of the Spring that is to come, begin to appear. In the form of clumps of snowdrops, pushing up through the leaf litter and soggy winter turf. This humble common bulb must surely gladden even the hardest of hearts and the coldest of winter days. It may be plentiful and seem almost nondescript, but there are many varieties and for the Galanthus groupie they go positively wild about the snowdrop. Here are a few varieties that you may like to try.

G. Caucasicus

G. Caucasicus

G. caucasicus: A NEW, variety. Clumps of broad leaves to 100mm, with flower stems rising above with delicate white flowers, with horseshoe- shaped green markings on the inner petals. Early flowering, January.

G. S.Arnott

G. S.Arnott

G. S. Arnott: An old favourite with large globular white flowers held above glaucous green leaves.150/200mm tall. Flowering Feb-March.

G. elwesii

G. elwesii

G. elwesii: Turkish snowdrop, Strong growing clumps of mid green/grey leaves with flowers held above the foliage, the flowers are large and open petalled. 100/200mm. Flowering Jan-March.

 G. Lady Beatrix Stanley

G. Lady Beatrix Stanley

G. Lady Beatrix Stanley: One of the very best double snowdrops. With fine leaves and long outer petals. 100/150mm. Jan-Feb.

 G.nivalis Charotte

G.nivalis Charotte

G.nivalis Charlotte: Good for naturalising, a twisted on the native snowdrop this new Dutch variety, has strong growing clumps of grey leaves and dense groups of white pendulous flowers. It increase well. 100-150mm. Flowering Feb- March.

 G. Green Brush

G. Green Brush

G. Green Bush: One of the very best green marked snow drops. Clumps of greyish foliage, flowers held slightly above. 100/150mm. Flowers are delicate and pendulous with the tips dipped green. Jan-early March.

snowdrops and other early flowering bulbs.

snowdrops and other early flowering bulbs.

Snow drops, tolerate most soil conditions but do best with some moisture and semi-shade conditions. They associate well with other early bulbs like winter Aconites, Chionodoxas and Leucojums.

Snowdrops in pots.

Snowdrops in pots.

Apart from growing the bulbs in groups, in flower borders or allowing them to spread into glorious carpets over areas of lawn, they also look very good in pots. Tall containers or ones set at eye level are best, so you can really appreciated their delicate beauty with out having to crawl about on your hands and knees! Also think about where you are going to grow them or have the pots, make sure it is along side a path or near the back door or on route to the garage, somewhere you are likely to venture even on the coldest of winters days.

So if you are keen to become a Galanthus groupie then here are a few places you can visit, also check local listing for your nearest garden offering snowdrop trails. Don’t forget to take your notebook and camera so you can decide which varieties you want to add to your collection. The good news is as snowdrops are planted in the ‘green’ you may not have long to wait.

National collection of Galanthus, Cambo Estate Gardens, Kingsbarns, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8QD.

Something more local. Nymans, Handcross, Nr. Haywards Heath, W.Sussex.

The national garden scheme are running a snowdrop festival with 80 gardens taking part. To find one near you click on http://www.ngs.org.uk/

Or if shopping is what you have in mind. Harveys garden Plants, Great Green, Thurston, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP31 3SJ. http://haveysgardenplants.co.uk/

Delicate beauty!

Delicate beauty!

ENJOY!

Now is the time to Design your Garden.

 A modern garden in Brighton.

A modern garden in Brighton.

In the depths of winter, the bare bones of a garden can be seen, those problem areas come a little sharper into focus. The unsightly shed and compost bins, the stacks of plastic pots, that could be better screened. The path that is not quite wide enough now the shrubby has grown and you are walking with one foot on the lawn turning it into a muddy stripe in the winter. The terrace which is not quite in the right place for the evening sun. The planting boarder that has got too wide and difficult to manage and has spread outwards leaving a bare middle with over crowed edges.

The boundary planting which has got to large and has gone from a tall hedge to over powering a large section of the garden. To the line of leggy shrubs and large clumps of herbaceous plants that desperately need dividing to flower well. All gardens however mature they are can need a little redesign and new thinking and this is great time of year to do it.

Landscaping a family garden

Landscaping a family garden

What to consider when thinking about redesigning your garden? The first thing is to get everyone involved who uses the garden, how ever briefly. Get them to write a list of the 3 most important things they would like from a new garden. Compare notes decided as a family what your most important needs are.

 Landscaping has just been completed on this town garden in Horsham

Landscaping has just been completed on this town garden in Horsham

Next, Budget- Costs of landscaping- After care. Now you have all had your wild dreams of grass tennis courts, 100m long herbaceous boarders, ponds and jettys and Jacuzzis, now is the time to think realisticly. First what is your budget? Will it be enough to reasonably build your dream garden? Or is there a middle ground of perhaps having the garden built in stages over a period of time helping spread the costs ( some of my clients go for this option) or could you do some of the work yourselves? I am not suggesting you should become a brick layer every weekend or dig your swimming pool with 3 members of the family on spades for six months. But how about staining your own trellis/ pergola. Doing some of the clearance yourself or carrying out your own planting.

 Small court yard garden. Lindfield

Small court yard garden. Lindfield

Also does everything in the existing garden have to go? This rarely happens there are often existing trees and shrubs that stay or are pruned or crown lifted if they are getting a bit large. Those over crowded herbaceous plants some may be worth dividing and lifting and transplanting to new sites in the garden. Also your existing paving materials may be able to be lifted and relaid and added to. There may be other items and materials in the garden that can be used in the new design.

Lewes Maritime Garden

Lewes Maritime Garden

Aftercare, it is important to be realistic about how much time you have per month to look after your new garden, Sissinghurst is of course lovely and what most people think of when they think of a typical English country garden, but it is very high maintenance and takes a fleet of full time gardeners to keep it looking as it does. So how much time beyond moving the lawn once a week from April to September have you got? Perhaps the higher maintenance plants on your wish list have to go, and instead of the long herbaceous boarders, a good mixed planting of shrub and herbaceous and ground cover and mulch is the answer. With few boarders. Do you need to consider some help in the garden? From a hedge and tree expert who could come and cut the boundary hedges and screening trees. To to more specialist jobs that you feel less able to cope with, pruning top fruit and roes for example. Or more regular help, perhaps the less skilled grass cutting you get a lawn care firm to carry out and you concentrate on the planting areas. Or perhaps you just want to sit in your garden and let a weekly trained horticulturalist take the strain. What ever you decide, it is important to work out the level of care needed and how it is going to be carried out, at the design phase. So the garden that is designed for you not only suits your needs but suits the amount of maintenance it is going to get.

Walled Garden Steyning

Walled Garden Steyning

So start the possess, walk round your garden and look critically at it, work out the areas that do not really work and you would like to change. Think of the areas in the garden that were best to sit in, when you were enjoying the garden in the summer, mark them. Have the family meeting, work out who is mowing and who is hedge cutting and who gets first dibs on the hammock on a summer afternoon. Raid the piggy bank, and decide how much the budget is and who has what skills and what time to help with the landscaping. Now give me a ring so we can talk about your garden project I would be delighted to help create your new garden! Tel: 01273 470753, go on give Emily a ring!

A wildlife pond nr. Lewes

A wildlife pond nr. Lewes

No garden is to big or to small, and lots of clients just have areas of their existing gardens re-designed.

The Night Time Garden:- garden lighting.

 

 

 The night Time garden

The night Time garden

As we enter the deep days of winter and darkness fills large quantities of the day, we tend to retreat inside and the garden can disappear into the gloom and deepening dusk. But this extra length of darkness can bring a new dimension to your garden, this is when garden lighting comes into it’s own.

Lighting of steps

Lighting of steps

There is of course always the practical, not nose diving down a set of steps, or turning out of the garage in a dark damp December afternoon to walk into the shrubbery and miss the turning onto the garden path. Most people instinctively at this point reach for the blast of the hydrogen security lights which of course do the job, but this is, as unsubtle as a punch on the nose. There are more elegant solutions which do the job just as well. For steps, a strip of LED lights, running under the edge of a riser, pick out each one beautifully and a coloured strip, like deep purple or aqua-marine turn a practical use into a feature in it’s own right.

Lighting a path

Lighting a path

The course of a path and it’s change of direction can be picked out, by low energy lights set into the edge of the paving, lighting your way as you move through the garden, turning the practical need to get from the garage to the back door, into a sinus line of light spots meandering through the darkened garden.

Trees up-lit

Trees up-lit

Of course winter can bring out the very best in up lighting mature deciduous trees, the dappled effected of up-lighting a tree in summer, as the light changes on the leaves and their movement is of course beautiful in it’s own right, but in winter it moves from mealy beautiful to stunning. The light plays and picks out the textures of a mature trees bark, it traces the many main branches as they subdivide into ever small branches right down to the delicate tracery of the tiny twigs at the out edges of a trees crown. It’s whole breathtaking habit and structure shown in all it’s beauty. I defie anyone not to be struck by the ‘wow’ factor of a large tree well up lit. This can make a tree which for most of the year may be mealy the back drop of the garden, into the night time garden’s star focal point. A feature like this for most garden owners can be enjoyed from the comfort of the sitting room arm chair as they gaze out into their winter dark garden.

Moon lighting shinning on to a terrace

Moon lighting shining onto the terrace below.

For many the concept of garden lighting is all about outdoor entertaining, turning sunset cocktails into long barbecue party nights. Again, most people have their patio or large terrace, next to the house, and think again either about the security lights or about the powerful wall lights most people have by the front door or next to the shed door. Again of course they do the job, but there are more imaginative approaches. First of all if you are having a party it is pretty unlikely you are all standing in the garden next to the house with all the house lights off, of course a certain amount of the back ground garden lighting is going to come from the house. Then have a look and see what you have growing near the patio if you are lucky enough to have a tree and it is mature and tall enough, then you can produce a gentle and subtle lighting effect. Hanging specialist ‘moon lighting’ in the branches of a tree, will create pools of light on you patio. Not only will it light your party giving it a gentle wine bar ambiance it will also create intriguing shadows from the tracery of the tree branches onto the paving below. Also low level up-lights through the planting and angled across the terrace at knee height will light a terrace well. The outer edges of the patio, where it edges, planting beds or where a path or steps lead off can be marked with ‘Candle lighting’ these are thin elegant lights, set at below knee high that like the name suggests give out a small glow of light, just enough to mark the edges and guide you at night.

Garden sculptures lit with coloured lights

Garden sculptures lit with coloured lights

One of the main reasons for having garden lighting is to light ‘features’ whether this is a tree or an architectural plant like a group of Agaves or similar. A garden sculpture, or a pergola or fountain. These undoubtedly become the stars of the night time garden. Up lights can be used to subtly use light and shadow to pick out the features in a face or form. The movement of water can be seen on a fountain or the surface of a pool with submersible lighting. Or you can hit the disco and go for some wacky lights that are coloured or change colour gently scrolling through a coloured rainbow. To add that extra night time ‘wow’ factor!

A lit water feature and garden beyond

A lit water feature and garden beyond

I must at this point add a note of caution, when it comes to garden lighting less really is more, I am sure you have all seen the very well intentioned lighting over kill. With steps having 2 lights per step, paths that seem to have a light every half meter. Or the ‘I like it all’ garden lighting mentality, where your eyes bounce from lights all round the patio, to every rather uninteresting blobby bush being picked out. To an argument of different coloured lights round the garden. Turing the whole garden into a light polluting mass, that is to distracting to look at and no doubt cost a fortune to put in and to run.

It is possible to have too many lights!

It is possible to have too many lights!

Good lighting design is about knowing what to light and when to stop, for it to work well it needs the darkness of the rest of the garden to high light your well lit feature, it might be just one beautiful tree, or the practicality of getting you to the garage, in a way that has turned into a light feature on it’s own. The good thing about modern lighting is there is a lot on the market and they now use very low voltage and are therefore pretty cheap to run. Also there are some very good lighting designers and electricians that specialise in the installation of garden lighting. I would always recommend a specialist is used in this field, it needs very particular knowledge and is not like wiring your kitchen. So I urge restraint when deciding on the lighting in you garden.

Lighting the winter garden

Lighting the winter garden

Garden lighting adds an extra dimension to your garden and changes it completely, so now the days are nearing their shortest, I hope you feel inspired to have a look at your garden in a new light, hopefully literally, how wonderful would it be to have one of those trees up lit so you can see it from the kitchen when you are cooking on a early winter evening. Or sitting under it with a glass of wine late into a darkening summer evening. Why not have a look at what a garden can look like at night, visit http://www.arcadiagardendesign.co.uk/portfolio/

Enjoy your night time garden!

The Autumn Garden: Helping your garden wildlife survive the winter.

A good wildlife habitat

A good wildlife habitat

As the clocks go back autumn is well and truly under way and winter is just around the corner. Traditionally autumn was a time for the keen gardener to cut down, sweep up and make the garden tidy for winter. However our understanding of the needs of the wildlife that live and visit our gardens is much greater and most of us want to garden in a way that will encourage and help the many species that rely on gardens to survive the winter ahead. So here are some helpful hints to help the wildlife in your garden.

 seedheads are an important food .

seedheads are an important food .

The not so tidy gardener: leave herbaceous plant seed heads to stand over the winter, only cutting them down in early spring, these are an invaluable food soruse for birds small mammals and over wintering insects can take refuge through the winter.

toad hibination habitat.

toad hibernation habitat.

Similarly do not go completely mad removing every fallen leaf from the garden, the odd pile at the back of the border, or under the hedge, or piles raked to the edges of paths or in heaps on noncultivated bits of ground are wonderful hibernation habitats for a range of creatures including, amphibians, frogs,toads and newts. Reptiles like slow-warms and of course for small field mice and other mammals as well as a good habitat for intersects of many species.

Try to find room in your garden for the odd pile of small twigs and even logs, again in the corner of a border or down by the compost heap, somewhere where the piles will not be disturbed, if the piles are large enough and have leafs piled through them they may even turn out to be a suitable hibernation spot for a hedgehog to carry out it’s over wintering hibernation. Sadly Hedgehogs are becoming an increasingly rare sight in  domestic gardens and we must all do our bit to try to create the right habitat for them.

a group of 'Bug Hotels'

a group of ‘Bug Hotels’

Many other species will also use these twig/stick and log piles from a mass of different insects to over wintering bees, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. A more decorative solution may be to hang a ‘bug hotel’ from a fence post or up under the eves of your house roof.

Hedge hog house

Hedge hog house

There are also ready made hedgehog houses on the market, these should be placed in a quite sheltered place away from any disturbance, including the local cats and any dogs. The hedgehog house should be in a position where it will not be disturbed through the winter months and preferable somewhere it can stay long term. The other big problems for Hedgehogs is habitat loss, the domestic garden is an important habitat but with implementable close board fencing now being the norm for garden boundaries rather than the porous garden hedge, the hedgehogs are struggling to move about the garden environment and are not able to have the size of territory they require for a healthy existence. So if you have a sturdy fence then think about cutting a small gap say 100/150mm wide by about the same high or a little bigger at a few points down your fence and on the corresponding side of the garden to allow hedgehogs to freely roam.

 mice nesting in long grass.

mice nesting in long grass.

Grass cutting, consider leaving the grass longer at the edges of the lawn perhaps 4 to 6 weeks growth, to allow a different habitat for over wintering species. Also if possible is there an area of grass that you can let grow to seed and leave uncut till early spring, this will become an invaluable area for insects, reptiles, amphibians and small hibernating field mice, particularly if this taller area of grass can edge a hedge or shrubby area.

a selection of bird feeders

a selection of bird feeders

Winter Feeding, from bird tables to nut and seed feeders to fat balls, and a whole range of bird feeders that are now squirrel proof, the market is flooded with all sizes and types to suit every situation and bird and gardener. Make sure you site the feeders well, not just for your enjoyment to see the birds from the kitchen, but also at a good height where the birds will not fall pry to the local cats. Also put out a low pot or bird bath for the birds, With both the feeders and bird bath it is very important to keep them regularly clean to prevent the spread of disease

So now you have an excuses not to be such a tidy gardener, and I hope these suggestions have inspired you to do your bit in your garden this autumn to help the animal species that live in and visit your garden get through the winter weather, be it a mild southern one or one with the odd attic blast.

For more information see www.rhs.org.uk/advise/wildlife for general information about helping wildlife in your garden. Also see www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife for help and information on bird food types for what bird species and for advise on different types of bird feeders

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.