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.

Essential Evergreens

Evergreens take centre stage.

Evergreens take centre stage.

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

Trees

Eucryphia x nymansensis 'Nymansay'

Eucryphia x nymansensis ‘Nymansay’

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

Chameyparis lawsoniana 'Columnaris'

Chameyparis lawsoniana ‘Columnaris’

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

Shrubs

Pieris japonica 'Variegata'

Pieris japonica ‘Variegata’

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

Pittosporum tenifolium 'Tom Thumb'

Pittosporum tenifolium ‘Tom Thumb’

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

Herbaceous

Pittosporum tenifolium 'Tom Thumb'

‘Ajuga retans ‘Catlin’s Gaint’

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

Berginia rotblum

Berginia rotblum

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

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

Evergreens make a winter garden.

Evergreens make a winter garden.

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

Breath evergreen life into you winter garden!

Winter Rose Prunning

Winter Rose Pruning.

January is a good time, in the mild South-East of England to carry out rose pruning. The principal reason for pruning roses is to maintain health and vigour. The removal of dead and diseased and damaged wood is particularly important in roses. They are prone to a variety of aliments and when planted in their traditional form on mass in a roses garden disease can spread with ease. So good rose health is important and winter pruning is a way to improve this. The pruning is not just about removing dead and diseased wood but also about improving the shape of the plant and possibly it’s size but also to maintain an open ‘airy’ habit that will help prevent disease being harboured and spread.

Basic techniques: an angled cut 5mm above an outward baring bud. For cutting out dead and old wood to remove it from the rose, a square flush cut.

stunning-roses-at-mottisfont-abbey

stunning roses at Mottisfont Abbey

So you can enjoy healthy roses with a long flowering season in the year to come.

R. Ruby Wedding. Hybrid-tea

R. Ruby Wedding. Hybrid-tea

Hybrid Teas: Remove any shoots that are dead,diseased or damaged, cutting back to healthy wood. Position cuts to encourage outward growth that will not cross the centre or other stems. Shorten all remaining growth down to a height of 20cm above ground level.

R. The Queen Elizabeth. Floribundas

R. The Queen Elizabeth. Floribundas

Floribundas: Cut out all dead,damaged and diseased wood back to healthy growth or remove to the base of the plant. Remove any stems that are rubbing or likely to rub against one another. Shorten any laterals back to 2 -3 buds from the main stem, cutting to an outward facing bud. Shorten the remaining stems to 25 -30cm from ground level.

R. Arizona sunset. Patio-miniture

R. Arizona sunset. Patio-miniture

Patio/Miniature: Remove any dead,diseased or damaged growth. Relieve congestion by cutting out the oldest stems entirely. Tip prune main stems to remove any of last seasons flowers. Prune any laterals back to within 1 or 2 buds of the main stem.

R. Iceberg. Stanard

R. Iceberg. Stanard

Standard: Remove all dead, damaged and diseased growth, back to main stem. Remove any crossing shoots that may damage another stem by rubbing. Main stems shorten to suitably-placed buds and shoots, laterals cut back to a healthy bud.

R. Iceberg. Stanard

R. Moyesii. Species

Species: Completely remove 1 or 2 old,very woody stems to the base. Remove all dead,damaged diseased wood. Remove all week stems. Remove all crossing stems that are likely to rub. Shorten all laterals to a side shoot or bud 5 -15cm from the main stem.

Old Garden Roses: Alba, Bourbon, China, Damask, Gallica, Mose, Portland, Provence Roses are all pruned the same way.

R. Great Maidens blush. Alba

R. Great Maidens blush. Alba

Remove all dead, damaged and diseased wood cutting back to healthy growth or cutting to the ground. Remove any stems that are rubbing. Cut back the main stems by about 1/3rd . Reduce laterals by about 1/3rd to a strong healthy outward facing bud. Remove all low arching stems that will touch the ground.

R. Madame isaac pereire. Bourbon

R. Madame isaac pereire. Bourbon

R. cecile brunner.China

R. cecile brunner.China

R. Madam Hardy.Damask

R. Madam Hardy.Damask

R. Tricolore-de-flandre-Gallica

R. Tricolore-de-flandre-Gallica

R. William Lobb. Mose

R. William Lobb. Mose

R. Jacques Roses. Portland

R. Jacques Roses. Portland

R. The Bishop. Provence

R. The Bishop. Provence

New English Shrub and Rugosa

R. Penelope.New English shrub

R. Penelope.New English shrub

Are pruned the same way.

R. Rugosa alba. Rugosa

R. Rugosa alba. Rugosa

Remove all dead, damaged, diseased and rubbing growth back to healthy wood. When growth becomes crowded remove 1 or 2 of the older stems that have become unproductive down to the base. To maintain a compact habit and encourage good flowering tip prune a proportion of the side shoots on the outer edges of the plant.

R. Pink bells .Groundcover

R. Pink bells .Groundcover

Ground Cover: These roses live up to their name with vigorous spreading habit, with side stems arching and hitting the ground, rooting and marching ever onwards so little pruning is required apart from ‘crowd control’ and removing any dead or diseased wood to healthy growth and pruning back hard to the base any stems heading skywards.

All this hard and very thorny work will give you healthy and free flowing plants that will look and smell wonderful come peak rose flowering season in June. If it is all sounding a bit too much like hard work, then I know a woman who can help you out! Give me a ring now on Tel:01273 470753 to book your January/February rose pruning session in.

Roses at David Austin garden-and-plant-centre

Roses at David Austin garden-and-plant-centre

Christmas Rose- The Winter Wonders of the Hellebore.

a-sweep-of-hellaborus

a-sweep-of-hellaborus

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

H. orientallis

H. orientallis

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

H. niger

H. niger

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

H.argutifolius

H.argutifolius

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

H.foetidus

H.foetidus

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

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

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

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

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