Category Archives: Gardening Thoughts

Quinces and Pears- The Noble Fruit

An orchard of pear trees

An orchard of pear trees

While apples are all about quantity and glut, buckets of apples for cider making, huge pies and crumbles and endless chutney etc. Pears seem revered for their singularity and delicate flavour, if there was ever a fruit to be carried on a velvet cushion it would be a beautiful, blushed perfect pear. The Quince on the other hand is an ancient fruit enjoyed and praised for its culinary uses from ancient Prussia to medieval England and although more modern fruits have pushed it to the margins, it still has lots to recommend, not least it produces a tree with a beautiful habit, a rarity in most fruiting trees. Here are some to consider.

 

 Pear Buerre Hardy

Pear Buerre Hardy

P.Buerre Hardy:  Pollinator, from group 4.  A pear that will cope well with the colder conditions in northern England. A strong grower with good upright habit and good autumn tints. It is dual use. Fruiting in October with large, copper, russeted red fruit, with an excellent flavour. Pick when still hard and allow to ripen in store.

 

Quince Meech's Prolific

Quince Meech’s Prolific

Q. Meeches’s Prolific: Self-fertile, with a hansom shaped tree, which is slow growing and needs no pruning. With delicate wide single open blossom white blushed pink, it is a beautiful tree. Large pear shaped fruit, October, with a dusty down finish. A regular and heavy cropper.

 

 Pear Concorde

Pear Concorde

P.Concorde: This well know pear is very reliable and partially self-fertile, although fruiting will be more guaranteed with a pollinator from group 3. This pear produces a good compact tree. Fruiting October/November with dessert fruit, which are born in clusters, Long pale green fruit, ripening blushed yellow. Can be picked ripe from the tree, or equally pick hard and keep in the fridge and ripen one at a time.

 

 Quince Vrunja (Bereczchi)

Quince Vrunja (Bereczchi)

Q. varanja (Bereczchi):A very vigorous tree, with all the habit and growth as described above. Named after the Serbian Pomologist called Bereczchi. It produces large very golden fruit, with a good flavour and is a good cropper. Fruit September/October.

 

 Pear Doyenne du Comice

Pear Doyenne du Comice

P. Doyenne du Comice: Pollinator from group 4. One of the best know older varieties of fruit, produces a strong growing tree, with vigorous growth. Fruit November/December. Large golden fruit, with slight russeting and a red flush. A delicious flavour, this dessert pear is a good keeper, lasting up to April in store.

 

 Pear William Bon Chetien

Pear William Bon Chetien

P. Williams Bon Chrretien: Pollinator group 3. Must be one of the most widely planted and best known of pears, it will even grow very happily on a north wall as an espalier. This dessert pear fruits in September. With large pale yellow fruit and juicy white flesh with a delicious flavour.

 

 Pear Shinseiki

Pear Shinseiki

P.Shinseiki: Asian pears, offer a delightful twist on pear growing. This early variety is self-fertile, producing at the end of August into September, round rust coloured fruit about the size of an apple. With white crisp flesh with an aromatic flavour.

 picking pears

picking pears

All pears do best in a warm sheltered spot. They like a good water retentive soil, they do not like dry conditions. Root Stocks, Pears are grown on either Quince A ( approx 16ft.)

or on Quince  C (approx 10 -12ft) root stock. They can be grown as stand alone trees or a cordons or as traditional espalier, up a warm wall and a more modern approach is now fan trained pears up a wall.

 Pears and quinces, making it to the table

Pears and quinces, making it to the table

Storing of Pears and Quinces: Quinces, bruise easily and even if you have picked the perfect fruit and keep it in ideal conditions, they just do not keep. Best to get going with the pies, jams, and fruit cheese straight away. Or peal and quarter dip in cool water with lemon juice, pat dry and weigh, bag and freeze for future use.

 

 Quince jam in the making

Quince jam in the making

Pears on the other hand vary, some it is best to pick when hard and store to ripen. All fruit that is to be stored must be without any blemishes and dry. Store somewhere with out strong odours, so not next to the stack of paint pots and the old tub of creosote in the garage. The store wants to be dry and ventilated if possible and most important of all vermin free, as the mice will love your stored fruit.  Then put the fruit on trays lined with tissue paper, so each pear dose not touch. Or if space is an issue then wrap each fruit in a couple of  sheets of tissue paper and stack in a box, 1 layer per box is best but 2 layers is the maxim. Keep an eye on your fruit, it is a fine line between a slightly hard pear and a ‘sleepy’ pear.  For a small crop, keeping the pears in the bottom draw of the fridge and just bringing a couple out at a time to ripen over a few days in a fruit bowl, also works well. Long term storage of pears is only for ‘keepers’. Others will need to be enjoyed ripened straight from the tree.

 Pear pie

Pear pie

I hope I have inspired you to find a spot for the ‘noble fruit’ or enjoy the ancient fruit of the Quince tree. Making sure you choose the right root stock, for your site and situation.

Enjoy!

 

Native Pond Plants- For A Wildlife Pond

A large pond with native planting

A large pond with native planting

Most of us want to encourage wildlife into our garden and a pond planted with native aquatic plants is high on the list to increase the biodiversity of your garden. One thing to bare in mind right from the start when planning what aquatic natives to use, is that nearly all pond plants are very vigorous, so less really will become more! So that your pond has a wide range of habitats, grade the sides of your pond to create different planting depths, each of these planting steps will become mini habitats and will suit different pond life. Here are some natives to consider.

 

Starting with shallow water on the margins of the pond.

Mentha quatica

Mentha quatica

Mentha aquatica: is the water mint, with creeping stems and aromatic leaves when crushed and pink/ purple flowers in spring. It will be happy in damp areas and in water up to 150mm. It is very vigorous so better in larger ponds.

 Caltha palustris

Caltha palustris

Catltha palustris: King cup/Marsh marigolds, this is a much better behaved marginal shallow water plant, forming a compact habit, with bright yellow large buttercup flowers in mid spring. Planting from damp margins up to 50mm deep water.

 Iris pseudacorus

Iris pseudacorus

Iris Pseudacorus: Yellow flag, no wildlife pond would look right with out this beautiful native, very tolerant from almost dry soil to damp boggy margins up to 75mm of water. Mid green sword like leaves and a secession of yellow flower from April into May.

 

Medium depth of water from  100 to  150mm deep.

Butomus umbellatus

Butomus umbellatus

Butomus umbelletus: Flowering Rush, this beautiful reed has dark leaves up to 70cm tall and in May heads of dropping pink bells, borne on  thin stems that radiate out, like an umbrella, it forms dense clumps in water from 50 to 100mm deep, not quite as vigorous as some other pond plants.

 Menyanthes trifoliata

Menyanthes trifoliata

Menyanthes trifoliata: Bog Bean, this lovely pond plant creeps around in deeper water, round the base of reeds, with pink buds in mid spring giving way to white fringed flowers. From 100 to 150mm deep water.

 

Deeper water planting from 130 to 170/200mm deep.

 Scirpus lacutris

Scirpus lacutris

Scirpus lacustris: common club rush, this is a very hardy rush from the margins to deeper water, with rounded rush leaves in dark green. With a ‘fuzz’ of brown flower/grass heads about 100mm below the top of the rush stem. It may not be the most glamours plant, but it is invaluable as a habit maker in a pond.

 Sagittaria trifoliata

Sagittaria trifoliata

Sagittaria Trifoliate: Swamp potato, it’s common name dose not really sell it, it has arrow head shaped leaves held upright with white flowers in the spring. Suitable for smaller ponds. Water depths from 100 to 130mm.

No pond would be complete with out a water lily, and don’t be tempted, one is all you will need unless we are talking lake in size.

 Nyhoides Alba

Nyhoides Alba

Nyphoides ‘Alba’, is the native white water lilly, in any still water, but it is big so if your pond it only a couple of meters in size it really will be to big. But it is a beautiful addition to any pond.

All natural ponds that do not have moving water are going to need oxygenates. These can be very vigorous and it is important to work out the water volume of your pond, to work out the numbers you are going to need, most good Aquatic Nurseries will help you with this.. Here are 2 native varieties to consider.

 Potamegeton crispns

Potamegeton crispns

Potamegeton Crispns, curled pond weed

 Ranunculus aquatilis

Ranunculus aquatilis

Ranunculus aquatilis, common water crow foot

Planting tip: either plant into aquatic plant baskets or to get a more natural growth pattern, cover your planting shelves in screened aquatic plant soil ( this will be very low in nutrients and mostly clay and will have been screened for stones) and plant straight into the soil. It is fine to spread the pond soil on top of the liner, just take great care of the liner when planting.

 Planting pond plants in an aquatic planting basket

Planting pond plants in an aquatic planting basket

If you want to learn more about looking after a wildlife pond then have a look at November 2015 Blog also have a look at the portfolio section of the web site to see wildlife ponds that Arcadia Garden Design has created.

 A wildlife Pond created by Arcadia Garden Design.

A wildlife Pond created by Arcadia Garden Design.

I hope I have inspired you to think about creating a wildlife pond or replanting with natives an existing pond. If you want help with your pond project, then do give me Emily a ring 01273 470753, I would be delighted to discuss your project with you.

 

 

 

Planting on thin Chalk Soils

 

 

Planting thieving on poor soils.

Planting thieving on poor soils.

For most gardeners, the soil is the thing that gets us all most worked up, and thin chalky soil for most would seem a real challenge and perhaps a hurdle to far; but do not despair, because in fact there is a huge variety of plants that love thin poor well draining chalky soils. Think of all the billowing scents and colours of the southern Mediterranean and you already have a plant palette to build on. Here are just a few to whet your appetite.

 Thymus vulgaris 'Sliver Posie'

Thymus vulgaris ‘Sliver Posie’

Thymus vulgaris ‘Sliver Posie’: this is one of my favourite thymes, it grows to  about 15cm high and produces a compact habit. With soft evergreen silvery leaves with cream variegation and light mauve flowers in the mid summer. It will do well in a sun baked spot.

 Iris 'Brathwaite'

Iris ‘Brathwaite’

Iris ‘Braithwaite’: Breaded Irises do very well on poor soils with good sharp drainage. This tall variety up to 75cm, wants full sun. it has grey leaves and stunning flowers with regal purple velvet uppers and soft mauve falls and an orange throat, flowers produced in May. It will flower well, where its rhizomes can be baked.

 Lavendula angustifolia 'Munstead'

Lavendula angustifolia ‘Munstead’

Lavendulea angustifolia ‘Munstaed’: This small compact variety has all the traditional traits of the common ‘English lavender’ but without the size, so is more suitable for a small garden growing to 40/50cm tall. With good evergreen aromatic sliver foliage and the light mauve of traditional lavender flowers produced freely in midsummer.

Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens'

Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’

Salvia offcinalis ‘Purpurascens’: Herbs are not just for the herb garden of the cooking pot and this is one of them. This beautiful evergreen purple sage, makes a good low growing ground cover plant, with soft grey/purple foliage and spikes of  small purple flowers in the summer, it likes a good sunny spot.

 Helianthemum nummularium 'Wisley Primrose'

Helianthemum nummularium ‘Wisley Primrose’

Helianthemum ‘Wisley Primrose’: is one of the best ‘rock roses’ there is, it thrives in dry poor spots  in full sun and it will happily grow on the tops of walls or the edge of dry Rockies. Reaching the dizzying height of about 10cm, with soft evergreen sliver foliage  and a succession of  round open clear yellow flowers from midsummer onwards.

Ulex europaeus 'Flore Pleno'

Ulex europaeus ‘Flore Pleno’

Ulex europaeus ‘Flore Pleno’:  There is nothing quite as tough as old boots, than gorse, it will grow on the very poorest and thinnest of soils and in the south of England has an unbelievably long flowering time, starting from late February through to midsummer and even a flush in the autumn. This variety has a compact habit with dense spiky evergreen foliage and  brilliant yellow pea like flowers, which bees love.

A garden of planting for poor soils.

A garden of planting for poor soils.

I hope I have inspired you to think more positively about your chalky poor garden soil and realise that there is a large variety of plants that can be grown and even thrive  on your garden soil type. All of the plants I have chosen happen to be sun worshippers but there are also shade lovers that will do well.

If you need some help planning the planting in your garden, then I would be delighted to help you, give me,  Emily a ring on 01273 470753.  Also have a look at the portfolio section of the web site to see some of the many garden projects we have been involved in.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

Delightful Daphnes

Delightful Daphnes in mixed planting

Delightful Daphnes in mixed planting

Daphens are a welcome addition to any early spring to mid summer garden, with fragment flowers over a long season and with attractive foliage and a compact habit. They are worth including in a planting scheme, particularly one near a path, so their gorgeous scent can really be enjoyed. Here are a few to consider.

 D. bholua'Gurkha'

D. bholua’Gurkha’

D.bholua ‘Gurkha’: A medium sized shrub, with a dense upright habit with mid green foliage. Clusters of richly scented purple to white flowers are produced from December to February, plant in a sunny sheltered spot to get a, long flowering period. The flowers are followed by black fruits.

 D. x 'bankwodii'

D. x ‘bankwodii’

D x burkwoodii: A small moderately slow growing shrub with compact habit and small whirls of evergreen foliage. Groups of pale pink flowers open white, with a good fragrance and are produced along the branches from May to June, it likes a sunny spot.

D.creorum 'Variegata'

D.creorum ‘Variegata’

D.cneorum ‘Variegata’: A low growing prostate shrub, that makes good ground cover, with vargated evergreen foliage. It is a vigorous grower and is happy in semi-shade. Dark rose pink flowers are produced in clusters from April to May.

 D. collina 'neapolitana'

D. collina ‘neapolitana’

D.collina ‘neapolitana’: A compact moderately slow growing dwarf shrub, with mid green evergreen foliage, grows well in full sum. One of the darkest pink flowers of any Daphne, with good scent produced April to June.

 D. mezereum

D. mezereum

D.mezereum: An upright small shrub, which needs full sun, it will cope well with growing on chalk. Flowers are produced up the stems in pink clusters and are highly scented, from February to March. Small orange poisonous berries follow.

 

 D. odora 'Aureomarginata'

D. odora ‘Aureomarginata’

D.odora ‘Aureomarginata’: a beautiful small to medium shrub with long glossy emerald leaves with a creamy white edge. Scented clusters of waxy blush to white flowers are produced from  February to early April, it will tolerate a chalky soil. Best grown in semi shade to full sun.

 

Bringing Daphnes indoors, to enjoy the scent.

Bringing Daphnes indoors, to enjoy the scent.

Growing conditions: most Daphnes prefer semi-shade, although some do well in full sun. also as a rule they needs to be neutral to slightly acidic soil which is humus rich which has good moisture retention but is not water logged. The one big exception to this rule is Daphne odora, which will cope with an alkaline soil, but it still needs lots of compost and humus, it will not like drying out and very poor soils, so it will be important to make sure it dose not suffer from magnesium deficiency with yellowing leaves.

I hope you will be inspired to add these worth while shrubs to your next garden planting scheme.

 

The Shady Courtyard

 A Shady courtyard garden

A Shady courtyard garden

In town centres, surrounded by buildings or the basement flat, shady courtyards are common as the outdoor space for a lot of town dwellers. They can be more then the space to dump the bike or keep the bins. With good planting they can become a vibrant and beautiful outdoor place to sit and enjoy. Low light levels mean plants need to be chosen with care. Here are a few selections to consider, whether planting into the ground, raised beds or gardening in containers, all will do well.

 Hydrangea anomala petiolaris

Hydrangea anomala petiolaris

Hydrangea anomala petiolaris: a superb clinging wall climber which dose well in dense shade. Deciduous, with mid green leaves and open ‘lace cap’ type hydrangea flowers in white, in late summer, make this a must to brighten any courtyard wall. It is moderately slow growing but worth the wait.

 Buxus sempervirens 'Aureovariegata'

Buxus sempervirens ‘Aureovariegata’

Buxus semperviens ‘Aureovariegate’: this is the variegated Box, with it’s delicate creamy variegation to the dark green leaves it will add a splash of colour to a dark courtyard. It has the added bonus of being able to be clipped into topery forms from the traditional ball to cones, squares and even a wacky peacock.

Vinca minor 'Illumination'

Vinca minor ‘Illumination’

Vinca minor ‘Illumination’: a wonderful evergreen ground cover plant, with creeping stems of dark shiny green leaves with brilliant splashes of golden yellow in the centre, to help add vibrancy to your dark space. It has the added bonus of purple flowers produced from early March to late April early May.

 Hellaborus 'Nigra'

Hellaborus ‘Nigra’

Hellaborus ‘Nigra’: This is a more elegant Hellebore than the common orientallis. With finer palmate leaves in a soft grey-green. With clear white flowers from December round to the end of February.

 Carex 'Evergold'

Carex ‘Evergold’

Carex ‘Ever Gold’: This as an easy to grow evergreen grass which is as tough as old boots it makes neat clumps of mid green striped yellow leaves up to 20/25cm tall. It will help to bring colour to a dark corner.

 Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea: A superb statuesque clump forming bamboo. With soft mid green leaves and canes that mature to a beautiful golden yellow.

 A hansom shady courtyard seating area.

A hansom shady courtyard seating area.

All the plants I have chosen are moderately easy to grow and will do well in most soils with good organic matter added. I have chosen mostly evergreen plants to help green a courtyard space and give a good constant back drop, variegation, yellow and golden foliage help to lift the light levels as do white flowers.

I hope I have inspired you to get creative with your courtyard space. If you need help with designing your courtyard garden, then I know just the person to help you. Give me, Emily a ring on 01273 470753, I would be delighted to discuss your garden project with you.

Conifers: Little and Large

 Giant church yard yew tree.

Giant church yard yew tree.

Conifers in more recent years have been much maligned in gardening circles, with thoughts of the mixed conifer and heather island beds. But this is to miss out on a superb group of plants, that come into their own as focal points and structural planting in the winter months, here a few choice selections from very large to the very small.

Pinus mugo pumillio

Pinus mugo pumillio

Pinus mungo ‘Pumillio :A wonderfully hardy pine, which is so forgiving it grows in nearly any soil including chalk. Pairs of long needles in a bright emerald green, with a dense bushy habit. A slow growing medium sized shrub, with prostrate or ascending branches up to 2m. It makes for a great addition to any planting.

 Chamaecyparis lawsoniana pygmaea argentea'

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana pygmaea argentea’

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Pygmaea Argente’: This conifer has all the good growing habits of all lawsonianas. It is a superb selection, with a dense compact habit of blue-grey foliage with white tips. It is slow growing and possibly one of the best dwarf conifers with variegated foliage, a must for the front of a boarder or the rockery.

 Juniperus communis 'Depressa Aurea'

Juniperus communis ‘Depressa Aurea’

Juniperus communis ‘Depressa Aurea’: A good low spreading conifer, making excellent ground cover, with densely packed foliage. Leaves are a particularity vibrant yellow when young, going darker green through the growing season and it has good bronze tints in the winter months.

Cupreeus macrocarpa 'Goldcrest'

Cupreeus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’

Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcreast’: An excellent conifer which is moderately fast growing and will cope well in coastal areas and is a good wind break. It is a medium sized tree, with a broadly conical habit when young, old trees broaden out. Golden sprays of foliage are densely packed, giving this conifer a striking look and is one of the best golden conifers, the colour is best in full sun.

 Picea pungens 'Koster'

Picea pungens ‘Koster’

Picea pungens ‘Koster’: A wonderful conifer with a striking habit, forming a conical small to medium sized tree, with flat tearied branches of bright blue grey foliage, a very striking addition to a mixed planting or great as a specimen tree.

 Taxus baccata 'Fastigata'

Taxus baccata ‘Fastigata’

Taxus baccata ‘Fastigata’: The humble yew, has lots to commend it and this fastigate form, just adds to those. Faster growing than most people think and coping on poor soils, this is a brilliant medium to large tree as a focal point in a garden or to act as sentinels on either side of a path, they add structure and elegance to the winter garden. Dense dark green foliage, acts as a foil to other planting, with a compact columnar habit.

Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca'

Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’

Cedrus alantica ‘Glauca’:As conifers go they don’t get much larger or more hansom than a cedar and this is defiantly the one to consider. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, verging on the stately home size or a field or piece of land you are considering making into an arboretum, then this is the specimen tree for you. Remember you are planting it for future generations. It forms an attractive conical shaped tree when young and matures into a wide spreading specimen when older. The branches are clothed in whirls of deep blue-grey foliage.

 Conifers adding structure to a mixed planting.

Conifers adding structure to a mixed planting.

Growing conditions: conifers grow on a wide range of soils, some will cope with poor soils and little water, junipers for example, some will even cope with sitting in water, like Taxodium. Some will cope with thin soils and some chalk. But most prefer a neutral to slightly acidic soil with a good quantity of humus and do not like to be water logged.

They can truly be the back bone of the garden, particularly at this time of year and should planted much more.

 Conifers adding green texture to a mixed border

Conifers adding green texture to a mixed border

 

If you would like some help, renovating a planting area with a new planting plan, then now in the dormant season, is the time to get planning and planting, then contact me, Emily on 01273 470753. I would be delighted to discusses your garden design project with you.

Elegant Camellias

A mass of Camellias

A mass of Camellias

By the time mid-winter comes about with short and dull days anything in the garden that adds a splash of colour, is to be grabbed and celebrated. So Camellias, with varieties that flower from October through to April are a good choice. With evergreen glossy foliage and attractive habit, whether grown in the garden as specimen shrub or on mass or even as an individual specimen in a pot are a must. Here are a few favourite

Camellia 'Cornish Cream'

Camellia ‘Cornish Cream’

C. ‘Cornish Snow’: This lovely Camellia rightly has a AGM award. With a good strong upright habit which can become a large shrub. Delicate single white flowers with gold stamens, which are produced on mass.

 Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

C. sasanqua ‘Yuletide’: This is one of my top favourites, a medium sized shrub with an open habit. Flowers are borne in a succession a few at a time from mid -October until the end of January. Small single red flowers with a mass of yellow stamens, add a real splash of colour in the depths of winter.

 Camellia japonica 'Kramer's Supreme'

Camellia japonica ‘Kramer’s Supreme’

C. japonica ‘Kramer’s Supreme’: This camellia has a good compact habit forming an upright shrub. This Camilla packs a punch with large loose paeony like flowers in red and has a delicate fragrance, wonderful in an enclosed space or a pot by the back door.

 Camellia japonica 'Lady Vansihart'

Camellia japonica ‘Lady Vansihart’

C.japnica ‘Lady Vansihart’: this upright camellia has unusual holly like twisted foliage, which is a real talking point. With small sauces blushed pink flowers.

Camellia japonica 'Lavinia Maggi'

Camellia japonica ‘Lavinia Maggi’

C. japonica ‘Lavinia maggi’: A dramatic camellia which grows into a large shrub. Large double blousy flowers, some white, some, pink, some red. But most striped and blotch in all 3 colours. It is as if someone has had a mad Alice and Wonderland joke with a couple of paint pots. If you want a statement shrub this is the camellia for you.

Camellia sasanque

Camellia sasanque

C. sasanque: A graceful open habit, with sauce shaped white flowers with rich yellow stamens from late autumn through to early spring, giving a long display.

 Camellias grow well in containers.

Camellias grow well in containers.

Tips: All Camilla like a neutral to slightly acidic soils with a rich humus compost that retains moisture well but dose not become water logged. They do best in dappled shade but will cope with some full sun. It is best to avoid early morning sun so that frost covered buds and flowers do not brown. The important thing to remember is that even when they have stopped flowering they need a good water through the summer months and must not dry out as this is when the flower buds are forming for the following year. A good helping of rotted leaf mould and feed should be added as a topdressing after flowering to help with flower bud development for the following year.

 Beautiful flowers of Camellias

Beautiful flowers of Camellias

If you would like help developing a winter garden, then I know just the person to give you a hand. Give me, Emily a ring on 01273 470753 to disuses all your garden design needs.

I hope I have inspired you to add Camellias to your garden, weather in a boarder or a couple in pots by the front door. Enjoy!

Ornamental Bark

Mass of birch with sliver trunks

Mass of birch with sliver trunks

Birch Bark

Birch Bark

As the leaves finally fall it is the skeleton of deciduous trees that give structure to the winter garden and distinctive and colourful bark in the rosy lights of the winter can be a truly stunning addition to the garden and are well worth considering when choosing trees to plant.

Acer capillipes

Acer capillipes

Acer Calliopes: The ‘snake bark’ maple, this hansom tree has real wow factor at all times of the year, with the new growth a lovely coral red and leaves turning a strong red in autumn. But the bark is truly magnificent, the mid green stems, have vertical stripes of white to light green and soft pink shades. This small tree makes a good focal point for a small to medium sized garden. Grows best in good humus rich soil in dappled shade.

 Betula 'Jermyns'

Betula ‘Jermyns’

Betula ‘Jermyns’: A dramatic medium sized tree with mop headed habit. With superb creamy-white pealing stems and trunk, showing coppery coloured bark beneath. Good golden yellow autumn colour, any free draining soil.

 Prunus serrula

Prunus serrula

Prunus serrula: ‘The Tibetan cheery’, this beautiful small tree has a lot going for it and is a great addition to a small garden. It has glossy mahogany coloured bark, which positively shines. With elegant small white blossom in April any good soil that dose not dry out.

 Acer griseum

Acer griseum

Acer griseum: The ‘paperbark maple’, A striking tree particularly if grown as a multi-stem. With attractive bronze coloured pealing bark, with qualities similar to papery birch. The trifliolate leaves have wonderful fury autumn colours. A small tree, which likes humus rich soil.

Arbutus andrachne

Arbutus andrachne

Arbutus andrachne: the ‘Grecian Strawberry tree’: This small evergreen tree, is tender and needs a sheltered spot, to get it started, but becomes hardy once mature. With dark green glossy leaves and delicate bunches of waxy bell shaped flowers in a stunning red, it is a dramatic tree. The added bonus is the smooth cinnamon brown bark. It needs an acid soil which is humus rich.

 Salix daphoides

Salix daphoides

Salix dalphnoides: The ‘Violet Willow’ This is a fast growing and striking tree for a small garden. It will grow in most soils although dose not like drying out. The new growth is a rich purple which matures with a white bloom. Catkins are produced in spring before the leaves.

 Group of hansom Eucalyptus

Group of hansom Eucalyptus

 Close of Eucalyptus

Close of Eucalyptus

With deciduous trees you have over five months with out the leaves, so the bark is well worth considering particularly if your garden is small as everything you plant needs to work hard for you. I hope I have given you food for thought. If you would like help choosing and planting trees as part of a new planting plan, I know just the woman to help you. As the bare root season will be starting shortly, there is no time like the present, give me, Emily a call on 01273 470753, to discuss all your garden needs.

Autumn Nuts and Fruit

Autumn Nuts and Fruit

 The Bounty of the Autumn

The Bounty of the Autumn

As the nights begin to shorten and the air cools, Autumn begins to feel on the way, but this is the time of harvest. There are a bountiful supply of both nuts and autumn fruiting berries that can be grown and enjoyed in the garden. Here are some to consider.

 Kent Cob Nuts

Kent Cob Nuts

Kent Cob: Also known as ‘Lambert’s Filbert’, is the largest fruiting cob nut and must productive. Producing a strong growing shrub with upright stems. Clusters of nuts are born from late August into September and should be picked in the green. The fresh nut have a fresh milky taste and can also be dried, for use latter in the season.

 Blackberry Oregan Thornless

Blackberry Oregan Thornless

Blackberry Organ thornless: Of course the hedgerows at this time of year are groaning with blackberries, but if you want large lush juicy fruit and more importantly no thorns, then this is the variety for you. It has attractive lacey foliage and the large fruit are ready for picking September to October.

 Walnut 'Broadview,

Walnut ‘Broadview,

Walnut ‘Broadview’: Walnuts are hansom and large trees, this is a more compact form and early to fruit producing nuts with in 3 to 4 years. It is also self-fertile. It produces nuts early in the season, with round green fruits appearing from early August, picking into October, but steel a march on the Squirrels. Top tip, walnuts are also used in the dying industry, the green husks that surround the nut have a dark tanning, so where gloves and pick just as the husks begin to crack. Either eat, when still quite green. Or they dry well for eating latter in the winter.

Worcester Berry

Worcester Berry

Worcester berry:This unusual berry is ready to pick in late September. It makes a vigorous prickly bush, but the advantage is that it is mildew free or very nearly. It produces round dark purple almost black fruit a bit like a gooseberry and has a good flavour.

Worcester Berry

Worcester Berry

Mulberry morus ‘Nigra’: Mulberry Trees are the stuff of medieval gardens and Shakespeare and make long lived rambling trees that seem to be as happy horizontal as they do vertical. In England it is the black mulberry that really produces fruit, so alas no good for silk warms, it is the caterpillar of the silk month that feed on white mulberry leaves. Red juicy fruits start to appear in July into August and they are truly ripe when they are nearly black towards the end of August beginning of September.

Sweet Almond 'Robijn

Sweet Almond ‘Robijn

Sweet Almond ‘Robijn’: No Christmas nut bowl would be complete with out Almonds and although they are not grown as much as Walnuts, it is still possible to get a good Almond crop particularly in Southern England. They are also a smaller tree than a walnut so more suitable for the small garden. This is a new variety of sweet almond with a softer shell and a good flavour, nuts appear late summer in the green and ripen for picking in October.

 Autumn Nuts

Autumn Nuts

Autumn would not be complete with out great crops of Apples and other tree fruit, but I hope I have inspired you to plant some nut trees to join the Autumn bounty.

Mulberries and Blackberries

Mulberries and Blackberries

Everyone loves Blackberries, but adding to the Autumn berries with some more unusual berries like Worcester berry and Mulberries only adds to the joy of the season.

Happy Planting! If you would like help designing and planting a Nut GArove or Orchard, then I know just the woman to give you a hand. Contact me Emily on 01273 470753. To discuss all your garden design needs.

Colourful Winter Stems

A mass of winter stems

A mass of winter stems

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

 Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’

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

 Cornus sericea 'Flarivamea'

Cornus sericea ‘Flarivamea’

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

Cornus sericea 'Kelseyi'

Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’

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

 Salix alba 'Golden Ness'

Salix alba ‘Golden Ness’

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

 Salix alba 'Yelverton'

Salix alba ‘Yelverton’

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

Rubus thibetanus

Rubus thibetanus

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

Colourful winter stems

Colourful winter stems

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

Winter stem planting

Winter stem planting

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

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

Marvellous Mahonias

Mahonias as part of a mixed winter planting

Mahonias as part of a mixed winter planting

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

M. japonica

M. japonica

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

M.aquifolium'Apollo'

M.aquifolium’Apollo’

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

M.media 'Winter Sun'

M.media ‘Winter Sun’

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

M.nervosa

M.nervosa

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

M. japonica Bealei Group

M. japonica Bealei Group

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

 M. x wagneri Pinnacle

M. x wagneri Pinnacle

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

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

 Mahonias on mass

Mahonias on mass

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

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

Becoming a Compost Master

Good Compost

Good Compost

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

 Digging compost into the ground

Digging compost into the ground

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

Vermin proof compost bin

Vermin proof compost bin

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

 Wooden slatted compost bin

Wooden slatted compost bin

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

Building wooden compost bin

Building wooden compost bin

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

Adding boards to front of wooden compost bin

Adding boards to front of wooden compost bin

Now you are ready to get composting.

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

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

Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles

Docks

Docks

Bindweed
Bindweed

 Ground Elder

Ground Elder

Mares tail

Mares tail

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

Adding shredded paper and grass clippings

Adding shredded paper and grass clippings

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

Covering the compost with an old carpet or similar.

Covering the compost with an old carpet or similar.

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

Turning compost

Turning compost

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

Digging out rotted compost from the compost bin ready for use

Digging out rotted compost from the compost bin ready for use

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

Rotted leaf mould

Rotted leaf mould

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

Bag up raked leaves.

Bag up raked leaves.

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

Digging out rotted leaf mould for use.

Digging out rotted leaf mould for use.

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

Putting food waste into a vermin prof compost bin

Putting food waste into a vermin prof compost bin

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

Digging out rotted compost from the compost bin ready for use

Digging out rotted compost from the compost bin ready for use

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

Good Luck!