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.

Urban Garden Design

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

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

A town oasis

A town oasis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

parking with a front garden

parking with a front garden

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sumptuous Soft Fruit

mouth watering berries

mouth watering berries!

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

RASBERRIES

Rasberry malling Jewel

Raspberry Malling Jewel

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

Raspberry Glen Ample

Raspberry Glen Ample

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

REDCURRANTS

 Redcurrent Jonkheer Van Tets

Redcurrent Jonkheer Van Tets

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

Redcurrent Rondom

Redcurrent Rondom

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

GOOSEBERRIES

Gooseberry Captivator

Gooseberry Captivator

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

Gooseberry careless

Gooseberry careless

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

LONGANBERRIES

Longanberry LY59

Longanberry LY59

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

 Longanberry LY654

Longanberry LY654

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

STRAWBERRIES

Strawberry Cambridge favourite

Strawberry Cambridge favourite

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

 Strawberry Elsanta

Strawberry Elsanta

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

BLACKCURRENTS

 Blackcurrent Ben Lomond

Blackcurrent Ben Lomond

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

Blackcurrent Ben Sarek

Blackcurrent Ben Sarek

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

Who isn't tempted

Who isn’t tempted

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

So much choice!

So much choice!

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

Enjoy!

The Mid-Summer Border.

As we speed towards the longest day of the year and summer feels well under way, the vibrant greens of the spring growth give way to the exuberant pastel shades of the mixed mid-summer border. Here are a few favourites that give good depth of foliage texture and good flowering and work well together.

Kolkwitzia amabilis 'Pink Cloud'

Kolkwitzia amabilis ‘Pink Cloud’

Kolkwitzia amabilis ‘Pink Cloud’ : A fine shrub that should be planted more, medium sized forming a dense mound of twiggy habit with small mid green foliage. With clusters of small bell shaped flowers in clear shell pink that cover the whole shrub giving a riot of colour are produced from late May into June. Copes well in thin dry chalk soils. Grow in full sun.

Choisya 'Aztec Pearl'

Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’

Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’: a good medium sized shrub that adds that evergreen backing to a border. It grows well in full sun or part shade. Mound forming habit, with delicate mid green slenderly divided leaves. Clusters of white highly scented flowers are produced May/June. Will cope with most soils but not water logging.

Cistus x argenteus 'Sliver Pink'

Cistus x argenteus ‘Sliver Pink’

Cistus x argenteus ‘Sliver Pink’: A small fast growing evergreen shrub with arching habit. Sliver foliage which is aromatic when brushed. A mass of papery soft pink flowers cover the shrub in late May into June. A must for the middle of the border. Full sun and free draining soils, also a good coastal plant.

Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve'

Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’

Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’: A small mounded sub-shrub, the perennial wall flower punches well above its weight. With its evergreen sliver grey foliage and long flower stems of small purple flowers which are produced from March through to the end of June. It grows well in full sun in all well draining soils.

Paeonia 'White Wings'

Paeonia ‘White Wings’

Paeonia ‘White Wings’: This herbaceous Paeonia adds a touch of class to the middle of the boarder with classic dark green palmate foliage. The large saucer shaped single flowers have delicate papery white petals and a mass of golden yellow stamens at their centre. Flowering end of May and into June. All free draining soils.

Hemerocalis 'Joan Senior'

Hemerocalis ‘Joan Senior’

Hemerocallis ‘Joan Senior’: A wonderful medium height herbaceous perennial. Swords of mid green foliage make a great edging plant to the front of the border. Stems of flowers rise above the foliage, with white semi-ruffled edged flowers with a deep green throat. The flowers are produced in secession in clusters at the top of the stems and flowers for most of June.

Geranium 'Johnston's Blue'

Geranium ‘Johnston’s Blue’

Geranium ‘Johnston’s Blue’: a superb low growing mound forming ground cover geranium. Which has mid-green divided foliage and clear blue/purple flowers produced in abundance from mid May to mid June. Shear the dead flower heads off for later flowerings. Great to plant as ground cover around the edges of larger shrubs or as a planting along the front edge of the border. Likes full sun but will cope with a bit of shade and grows well in all free draining soils.

Alchimilla mollis

Alchimilla mollis

Alchemilla mollis: no mid-summer planting scheme would be complete with out this self seeding ground cover plant. The pea-green rounded gently palmate leaves catch early morning dew and look stunning. Drifts of sulphur green tiny flowers are held above the leaf clumps from June into late July. A good sun loving ground cover plant. All well drained soils.

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'

Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’

Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’: Bulbs are not all about early spring. Mid May and into early June this handsome member of the onion family adds a sticking appearance to the mid-summer border. Round globes of dark purple flowers are held on 70/90cm high stems and they glide well above the lower planting in the middle of the boarder.

A boarder in full mid summer bloom.

A border in full mid summer bloom.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to get the best out of your mid-summer planting if you need help to create a new planting area or to revitalise an existing tired border then I am the woman for you. Please do give me a ring to discuss planting ideas and planting plans. Telephone Emily on 01273 470753.

Riotous Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons taking centre stage.

Rhododendrons taking centre stage.

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

 Rhododendrons fulvum

Rhododendrons fulvum

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

 Rhododendron 'President Roosevelt'

Rhododendron ‘President Roosevelt’

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

Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Grumpy'

Rhododendron yakushimanum ‘Grumpy’

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

Rhododendron 'Blue Diamond'

Rhododendron ‘Blue Diamond’

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

Rhododendron 'Elsie Lee'

Rhododendron ‘Elsie Lee’

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

 Rhododendron 'Nancy Waterer'

Rhododendron ‘Nancy Waterer’

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

Rhododendrons making the highlight of a mid summer woodland garden.

Rhododendrons making the highlight of a mid summer woodland garden.

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

Early Spring Flowering Shrubs

As the clocks go forward and the equinox has passed Spring has well and truly sprung, but spring is not all about bulb power there are many early flowering shrubs that act as great specimens in their own right as well as a flowering backdrop to all those sweeps of colourful bulbs.

Forsythia x intermedia 'Lynwood'

Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood’

Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood’: Forsythias may seem a bit common place and in some eyes even gaudy, but they are a rich golden splash at the back of a border especially if backed by evergreen planting and will sing out from the bottom of the garden even on the greyest of April rainy days.

A bold up right habit, the stems are covered in rich golden flowers, mid- March to mid April. The leaves appear after flowering. Medium sized deciduous shrub, will grow well in full sun but will cope with some shade. Will grow in most soils including poor chalk, but does not like waterlogging.

Chaenomeles speciosa ' Crimson and Gold'

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘ Crimson and Gold’

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Crimson and Gold’: A wonderful early flowering shrub, that can be planted in a border or trained up a wall. The wide saucer shaped red flowers with brilliant golden anthers appear before the leaves from the end of February through to early April. The thorny branches produce round yellow fruits in the early autumn. A medium deciduous sized shrub will cope with most soils, protect from drying out when planted up a wall.

Coronilla valentina glauca 'Variegata'

Coronilla valentina glauca ‘Variegata’

Coronilla glauca ‘Variegata’: The trouble with this shrub, is it, just does not seem to stop flowering! A medium sized shrub with delicate evergreen grey foliage which is white edged. Delicately scented clusters of rich yellow pea shaped flowers appear in mid March for the main flowering season but the shrub will continue to flower intermittently through out the spring, summer and into the autumn. Grow in full sun and best in poor free draining soils. It is not fully hardy but will grow well in the S.E of England.

Corylopsis willmttiae

Corylopsis willmttiae

Corylopsis willmttiae: A shrub with a graceful wide spreading habit which is deciduous. Grows well in semi-shade as it is a plant of the woodland edge. It likes humus rich soils but will grow well on chalky soils if enough organic material is added and it is not allowed to dry out. From early march to mid April slender tassels of primrose yellow flowers are borne along the branches. The flowers are followed by the rich purple leaves.

 Ribes sanguineum 'Tydemans White'

Ribes sanguineum ‘Tydemans White’

Ribes sanguineum ‘Tydemans White’: Perhaps as ubiquitous in early spring as the Forsythia is the shocking pink of the Ribes, but this white form has all the robustness of the common form including its masses of flowers over a long flowering period but has a more delicate charm. A medium sized deciduous shrub with a gentle arching habit. That will grow on almost any free draining soil. Long racemes of white flowers are produced from mid march to mid April.

 Stachyurus praecox

Stachyurus praecox

Stachyurus x praecox: A Medium to large deciduous wide spreading shrub with gentle habit. That grows well in fertile humus rich soils neutral to slightly acid. The rich brown branches have flower racemes forming in early autumn. The flowers open to produce 5cm long racemes of yellow cup-shaped flowers from early March. The flowers are followed by mid green broad taper-pointed leaves.

Most early spring shrubs produce their mostly delicate flowers on bare stems so to full appropriate their flowering impact, plant them either on mass in a group of at least 3. If you haven’t the room then they can be great specimen shrubs but need an evergreen ‘backing’ shrub to fully enjoy the flowers, and to create that ‘wow’ early spring impact.

If you need help to reinvigorate your garden to give it that early spring ‘wow’ factor then I can help you, from producing a planting plan for a corner of the garden or for a whole boarder, through to supplying and planting. Please do ring me. Tel :01273 470753.

Early Spring Jewels

early spring jewels.

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

 Iris reticulata 'Blue Hills'

Iris reticulata ‘Blue Hills’

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

 Iris histtriodes 'kathrine Hodgkin'

Iris histtriodes ‘kathrine Hodgkin’

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

Iris retculata 'J.S.Dijt'

Iris retculata ‘J.S.Dijt’

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

Iris histroides 'Beatrix Stanley'

Iris histroides ‘Beatrix Stanley’

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

IIris reticulata 'White Caucasus'

Iris reticulata ‘White Caucasus’

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

 Iris retculata 'Spot on'

Iris retculata ‘Spot on’

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

Iris looking at their best in containers

Iris looking at their best in containers

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