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 are  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.

Becoming a Compost Master

Good Compost

Good Compost

Composting garden waste is an important part of the gardening cycle and the more of the waste you can reuse in your own the garden the better, it will reduce trips to the local tip and the over following council collected brown bin and produce good organic matter to feed your garden so it is a win-win all round.

 Digging compost into the ground

Digging compost into the ground

Some basic compost rules: Your compost bin, must be siting on the ground, whether bare soil or lawn, but never concrete or paving. As well as micro-organisms that are going to break down the plant waste so are warms and they need to be able to get to into your bin. You need at least 2 compost bins, 1 that is in use and the second one which was filled the year before and is now being allowed to rot.

Vermin proof compost bin

Vermin proof compost bin

If you are going to compost food waste ( never cooked, or meat or fish) vegetable peelings etc., then this needs to be in a sealed vermin proof compost bin.

 Wooden slatted compost bin

Wooden slatted compost bin

There are many compost bins on the market, or you can make your own. The basic rule is the bigger you can build your compost bins the better, as the larger the volume of decaying matter the better and faster it rots. Good air flow is also an essential for quick rotting.

Building wooden compost bin

Building wooden compost bin

If you are building your own then a minimum workable size is a 1m x 1m by about 1m in height. Old pallets are good for the sides as they let the air in, or old scaffold boards cut to length with regular gaps left between the boards. The front wants to be open so barrows can be wheeled in and emptied, but as the garden waste gets higher there needs to be the ability to slot boards in across the front and slowly build the front up as the compost heap grows in time.

Adding boards to front of wooden compost bin

Adding boards to front of wooden compost bin

Now you are ready to get composting.

Composting: Use one bin at a time, all annual weeds can be composted,

DO NOT COMPOST perennial weeds, i.e. nettles, docks, bindweed, ground elder and mares tail (these will have to be taken to the tip or burned).

Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles

Docks

Docks

Bindweed
Bindweed

 Ground Elder

Ground Elder

Mares tail

Mares tail

Grass cuttings and some fallen leaves, these make good ingredients for the compost; layer these including layers of shredded paper and the odd torn up cardboard box. Also ‘hard’ garden waste, this is everything that is not green, i.e. branches and stems, these will be very hard to compost if they are not chipped first, add chipped layers into the compost, or remove woody material from the garden. It is also important that the compost bin dose not dry out, so if the contents are looking very dry, put a couple of cans of water on it.

Adding shredded paper and grass clippings

Adding shredded paper and grass clippings

To help speed up the composting, old carpet or blanket can be put over the top of the compost heap.

Covering the compost with an old carpet or similar.

Covering the compost with an old carpet or similar.

There are two schools of thoughts either turn the compost regular every 4 to 6 weeks, this requires 2 bins, so the heap is regularly turn from one to the other, or leave in the layers, perhaps experiment to see what works best.

Turning compost

Turning compost

Once the bin is full it will take approximately 1 to 2 years to break down, it maybe quicker depending on how large the heap, the larger it is the hotter and the quicker it rots, also how dry it is and of course what garden waste is in it.

Digging out rotted compost from the compost bin ready for use

Digging out rotted compost from the compost bin ready for use

Leaf mould, this is a wonderful soil improver and almost any gardener can make this, no matter how large of very small your garden is. It can be dug in or act as a top dressing.

Rotted leaf mould

Rotted leaf mould

If you have enough space then you can build a leaf mould bin again 2 are needed. Each bin should be a minimum of 1 x 1m and 1m in height. A post on each corner and 4 strong straining wires set at equal distances up the posts, then attach the chicken mesh to the wires, again the bin will compost quicker if it is on soil. If you only have a small garden then black bin liners can be used and stored in a shady spot out of the way, like behind the shed.

Bag up raked leaves.

Bag up raked leaves.

Rake up and put some leaves in with the compost the rest to go in the wire bins, use one at a time, to speed up posses can cover the bin, or fill up a bin liners half full, twist the top and tie with string, next punch 5 to 7 holes in the bottom of the bag with a garden fork, store in a shady spot. It will take about 1 to 2 years for the leaves to rot and become leaf mould.

Digging out rotted leaf mould for use.

Digging out rotted leaf mould for use.

Food waste, even if you have a tiny court yard garden then you can produce good compost from food waste.

Putting food waste into a vermin prof compost bin

Putting food waste into a vermin prof compost bin

A rat proof compost bin (provide by the local council, or brought from a good garden centre) place on bare earth. For all vegetable, bread, eggshells and food waste. This must be placed onto the bare soil. Layer the food waste with shredded paper and unprinted cardboard torn up. Do not allow the compost to dry out. It will take 1 to 2 years to rot.

Digging out rotted compost from the compost bin ready for use

Digging out rotted compost from the compost bin ready for use

Now you should have all the knowledge you need to be a compost master.

Good Luck!

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.

Dazzling Dahlia

 on mass Dahlias

on mass Dahlias

September is the month these bright and blousy garden drama queens come to the for, from the delicate with dramatic foliage to the massive dinner plate show stoppers. Making striking additions from garden boarders to centre pieces in a flower arrangement, Love them or loath them, there is much to admire in these old fashioned garden favourites.

D. Bishop of Llandaff

D. Bishop of Llandaff

D. Bishop of Llandaff: This old favourite, has striking dark purple foliage standing 90cm tall, with dramatic bright red single flowers with golden stamens. A striking addition to the late flower boarder.

 D. Bantling

D. Bantling

D. Bantling: A fine pompom Dahlia with rich mid green foliage and a mass of round vibrant orange flowers up to 90cm tall. Good for flower arranging.

D. Lindsay Michelle: This is a show stopper of a Dahlia with large flowers held above green foliage. The base of the petals are a clear yellow and the serrated tips a shocking pink. A dramatic planting and superb as a cut flower.

 D. HS Wink

D. HS Wink

D. HS Wink: dark burgundy foliage, with clear pink single flowers with a magenta base splash and yellow stamens, make this Dahlia a good choice for mixed late boarder planting. Up to 80cm tall.

 D.Witten

D.Witten

D. Witten: An elegant Dahlia with emerald green foliage and rounded white petals some flushed blush pink. At 55cm tall a good plant for the front of the boarder.

 D. Blackberry Ripple

D. Blackberry Ripple

D. Blackberry Ripple: A tall hansom Dahlia at 110m with green foliage and large striking flowers of white and purple stripes. A must as a cut flower and a garden talking point.

 D. Bishop of York

D. Bishop of York

D. Bishop of York: Purple foliage and clear yellow flowers with golden stamens standing at 90cm tall make this a must have addition to the central boarder planting.

All Dahlias like a good sunny spot in the garden and grow best in humus rich soil which dose not become waterlogged. They are not hardy, so here in the south of England they can over winter outside if protected from frost with either dry straw or horticultural fleece to protect the crown ( cut down to 20cm off the ground before the first frost and then protect).As long as the tubers do not get water logged , in heavy soils it would be best to lift the crowns. If you are concerned then you can treat dahlias in the classic way which is to lift the tubers, dust off the soil and allow to dry out in a shed.

Dazzling Dahlias

Dazzling Dahlias

For many years Dahlias went out of fashion and were rather sneered at for being to over the top and only for flower shows, but they are making a come back and it is well deserved!

Not such Exotic Fruit- From Apricots to Grapes.

 Bunch of grapes

Bunch of grapes

Gardening in the South-eastern corner of England has it’s advantages and one of these is, the ability to grow some more exotic fruit varieties, peaches, grapes and even figs grow and crop well, here are few mouth watering selections to consider.

 Peach Rochester

Peach Rochester

Peach Rochester: One of the best varieties for out sided growth, growing best against a warm wall, as a fan, in full sun. It has some resistance to peach leaf curl. Ripening late August, with good medium sized fruit yellow streaked red and sweet yellow flesh.

 Grape vitis Brandt

Grape vitis Brandt

Grape vitis brandt: Ideal for out door growth, very hardy, vigorous grower. To train up a up a large pergola or wall. Good disease and mould resistance. Crops reliably with good dark sweet fruit held in compact bunches towards the end of October. Dual-purpose grape, great for the table or to make wine. Good autumn colour is an added bonus.

Apricot Moor Park

Apricot Moor Park

Apricot Moor Park: a very good out door variety, grow up a warm sunny wall, in full sun as either a fan or an espalier. Apricots are easy to grow and relatively problem free. They do blossom very early though mid-Feb to mid- March, so may well need some protection from frost, with fleece. This variety is a vigorous grower. It produces sweet golden yellow to orange fruit blushed red. With apricot coloured flesh with a delicate sweet flavour. Good for cooking, bottling or just enjoying straight from the tree.

 Kiwi 'Jenny kiwi'

Kiwi ‘Jenny kiwi’

Kiwi Fruit ‘jenny Kiwi’: Otherwise known by their older and to my mind more elegant name the Chinese Gooseberry. This is a twinning climber, so a large warm wall or sturdy pergola is needed. Jenny Kiwi is a relatively new variety and the good news is that it is self-fertile. It needs a good sunny position in good moist humus rich soil to do well and fruit. It has rose scented flowers in mid summer and on good hot years should fruit mid-autumn.

Nectarine 'Lord Napier'

Nectarine ‘Lord Napier’

Nectarine Lord Napier: Everything you ,love about a peach, but with out the furry skin, probably best describes a nectarine. Grows best on a warm sunny wall. Some residence to peach leaf curl. Ripens early august, with orange flushed red shiny skinned fruit, with a golden yellow flesh, a sweet and juicy fruit.

Fig 'Brown Turkey'

Fig ‘Brown Turkey’

Fig Brown Turkey: This is one of the hardiest figs to grow outside, it is an old favourite and tried and tested. With large fruit, that when semi-ripe and still a little green, make a great addition to a salad, when fully dark brown and soft, are beautifully sweet, eaten straight from the tree, or for jam or ice-cream making. A fig is very easy to grow, it dose best on a warm to hot wall in full sun, the soil needs to be as poor as possible (think Mt. Ararat) A fig will produce 3 crops in a season given a chance, this of course does not work in an English climate, so make sure all late fruit and baby fruit are knock off the tree after the end of November, to encourage, figs to develop early in the season so they can ripen in a short English summer.

High summer fruit.

High summer fruit.

All of these fruits are worth the effort and not that difficult to grow, except perhaps dealing with the dreaded peach leaf cruel, then you just have to decide how much effort you are prepared to put in for the sweet juicy final lip smacking result!

I hope I have inspired you to get ordering your own exotic fruit, ready for planting in the autumn. Then this time next year, you could be getting ready to enjoy the fruits of your labours.