Category Archives: Gardening Tips

Alpines-Small is Beautiful

 

 Alpine rock garden

Alpine rock garden

Alpines, allow you to enjoy gardening in miniature, whether you are creating a small intermit rockery in a corner of a garden, or a low dish of plants on a table or a traditional rock basin with choice plants in. There is a lot to enjoy and discover about gardening with small Alpines. Here are a few to consider.

Arabis androsace: This is a tiny and perfectly formed alpine perfect for a sink or low saucer planting, reaching 2cm in height. A rosette of tightly packet leaves, with tiny white flowers in March-April.

Dianthus freynii

Dianthus freynii

Dianthus freynii: This delightful alpine pink reaches the dizzying heights of 5cm. Making a pin-cushion of grey leaves, with fat pink flowers held on grey stems in April-May. Looks good in a scree garden.

 Geranium sanguineum lancastriense

Geranium sanguineum lancastriense

Geranium sanguineum lancastriense: 7cm tall, with a spreading habit. With small mid-green palmate leaves and pink flowers May-June. Would happily scrabble over small rocks in a rock garden of the right scale.

 Lithospermum diffusum 'Heavenly Blue'

Lithospermum diffusum ‘Heavenly Blue’

Lithospermum diffsum ‘Heavenly Blue’: Getting a little taller this plant gets to 10cm in height. This is a striking alpine with intense gentian like flowers of a stunning blue, flowering from May to July. It makes an eye-stopping addition to a alpine planting.

 Phlox douglasii 'Eva'

Phlox douglasii ‘Eva’

Phlox douglasii ‘Eva’: A good upright habit reaching 10cm tall. With a mass of small open pink flowers with a darker eye. Flowering latter in the season, from July into August. A good addition to the Alpine garden to help to extend the flowering season.

Saxifraga burserian ‘Brookside’: A good completed plant at 5cm tall.  With a dense cushion of grey tiny leaves. Tall red flower stems with white star flowers are produced from late April into May.

 Alpines planted on a rock wall

Alpines planted on a rock wall

Top tip: All the alpines I have chosen are hardy in Southern England. They like full sun and sharp well drained soil, so adding horticultural grit and sand will help. Plant Alpines like they are specimen plants, so you can really see the individual beauty of each plant. Think about the mulch and items round the alpines, the rocks and build of a rock garden with good horizontal stator to give a natural look also think of the scale of the plants and any rocks or mulches used. These should work in harmony with the planting. Even on the small scale of a pot, stones and pebble mulches can be used.

I hope I have inspired you to think again about Alpines, particularly if you have limited gardening space, as a few different pots with groups of alpines, can turn even a small balcony into a variety rich garden.

Enjoy!

More Unusual- Bulbs

 

Frittillary in a meadow

Frittillary in a meadow

When you say ‘bulbs’ to most people they think Daffodils, a handful of tulips and a sweep of crocus, but there are many more tempting bulbs to try. Bringing extra and more unusual colour and form to the spring bulb display and lengthening the bulb season into the summer months. Here are some to consider.

 Camassia cusickii

Camassia cusickii

Camassia cusickii: This tall bulb makes a sward of tall mid-green leaves, with a central flower spike up to 60/75cm tall. Flowers unfurl from the bottom upwards in session. Flowering in June with good clear blue star shaped flowers. Excellent for semi-shade

Camssia leichtlinii ‘Alba’: A white form, with flowers creamy to white growing to 70/90cm tall. As with all Camassia excellent for naturalising in wild meadows and grassy areas in semi-shade like orchards.

Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa forbesii: This bulb is often commonly called the ‘ glory of the snow’. It is certainly one of the earliest to appear. Delicate and low growing at 10/15cm, plant in small clumps. Bright sky blue flowers with a white splashed centre. March-April.

Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa lucilliae ‘Alba’:Pure white large flowers March-April, 10/15cm tall. These bulbs are superb at naturalising in both sun and semi-shade.

Fritillaria meleagris

Fritillaria meleagris

Fritillaria meleagris:The snakes head fritillary. This delicate bulb is small in statue but is a show stopper, only 20-30cm tall, it’s beautiful nodding heads reach above the grass. The distinctive flowers are bourne from March-April. In shades of white, cream and soft pink. With scale like markings on the petals, hence it’s common name. Grows well in full sun and well drained soil.

Fritillaria imperialis 'Aurora'

Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’

Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’: ‘Crown imperial’ this is the Emporia or fritillaries. A striking plant reaching 60/70cm in height with mid green base leaves a tall strong flower spike with a ring of orange bell like flowers set under the tuft of small leaves above. Flowering March to April

 Ipheion rolf fiedler

Ipheion rolf fiedler

Ipheion Rolf Fiedler: A hardy bulb from South Africa. Clumps of low mid- green foliage and open star shaped flowers in bright electric blue. This is truly a eye catcher for the early spring. 10/15cm tall. Flowers March- April

Ipheion Alberto Castillo: pure white open clear flowers. 10/15cm tall Flowering March-April. These bulbs like a sunny spot and good drainage, they naturalise well.

A mass of Chionodoxa planted under trees.

A mass of Chionodoxa planted under trees.

I hope I have wetted your appetited to try planting some bulbs that are a little different. Enjoy!

Redefining the Edge

Neatly edged flower borders

Neatly edged flower borders

Mid-winter is a good time to take a good hard look at your garden. You can clearly see, the structure of the garden and it’s layout. Perhaps the crisp lines of the rectangular beds you set out and the geometric circles and square of planting on the lawn, have lots their crispness. Or has the straight boarder along the house  begun to wavier. Have your planting beds become a little woolie about the edges?

 

 Planting flopping over the path edges.

Planting flopping over the path edges.

Now is a good time to redefine the edge of planting boarders, taking sprawling planting back in hand. Mature planting boarders can often become much larger than originally designed, the plants mature and flop and move forward, the edging geraniums and other exuberant herbaceous plants freely flow out of the flower bed onto the lawn, you start to cut round them and so year on year, the bed gets bigger and wider and the shape and form of it is lost. Paths can also fall prey to this, a little softness of plants edging the path is one thing. Overflowing planting can easily turn a wide path  into a narrow slalom course, which can get almost unpassable, particularly in wet summer weather when the weight of wet planting flops and sags forward even more. It can also be quite a trip hazard.

 Over grown path

Over grown path

But there are a number of things you can do to get your planting beds back into shape and this is the time of year to do it. Firstly take a good hard look at the shape and size of your planting, has it grown in size over the years? Have plants spilled to the front to get light leaving bare areas under other shrubs in the middle or the back of the boarder? So this may be the opportunity to not only redefine the existing edge of the boarder, but perhaps to completely reshape the boarder or even to reduce it’s size. So the next stage is to mark out using canes, the shape and size of the boarder, and then use string and pegs to mark the edges.

 marking out the edge of a flower bed

marking out the edge of a flower bed

Now you need to prune back any planting in the way of the new edge and possible even dig some plants out, perhaps they can transplanted back into new positions with in the same boarder or found a new home somewhere else in the garden or given to gardening friends. Be bold, it is no good putting an edging in that will instantly in the first growing season be swamped  by the planting.

 Digging up plants along the edge

Digging up plants along the edge

Next you need to decide what job your edging is doing, to help you decide what type will be suitable. Is the edging to be laid flat and level with the lawn to make lawn care easier, so you can mow over it so it is a mowing strip. Brick or paving slabs work well.

 brick mowing strip

brick mowing strip

Is the edging to help to retain a slightly higher soil level of the flower bed from the lawn level. Then both a metal edging of the right height like ever-edge or a brick edging would work.

 Ever-edge edging round lawn

Ever-edge edging round lawn

Is the edging to keep taller plants flopping on the edge of paths, perhaps you would like it to be decorative. Traditional rope edging tiles are beautiful, but if you do not have the budget or the time to hunt demolition yards then, there are dyed concrete edging kerbs that may be to your liking. As well as some fancy metal edging.

 metal hoop edging

metal hoop edging

Think about the area of the garden and the style of your garden to choose the right edging, so if it is a  cottage garden for an old thatched cottage, then tile edging or bricks on edge will be more suitable.

 brick edging

brick edging

 Tiles used as an edging

Tiles used as an edging

A woodland garden would be best with old logs or even sleeper edges, which even if they are new would soon weather down, to fit the mood of the  woodland planting.

log edging in Woodland planting

log edging in Woodland planting

If  your garden is a dry seaside garden, then, pebbles, and larger stones and even boulders, may be the edging of choice.

Once you have decided on you edging material and there is a huge choice on the market. Give yourself good working room in the planting bed to install your new edging. If you have reduced the size of the boarder then you may need to repair the lawn, with some top soil raked to levels, ready for seeding in the spring. Or you may have been lucky enough to have regained a path, from excess planting.

 Well edged flower beds, give the winter garden formal elegance

Well edged flower beds, give the winter garden formal elegance

If you need help to restore an old boarder or a planting area in your garden. Then I would be happy to help and this is the very time of year to carry out the work. Give me Emily a ring 01273 470753. I would be delighted to discuss your garden project with you.

Flowering Bulbs for Christmas

Forcing spring bulbs to flower ‘early’ for Christmas or New Year, can bring scent and flowering magic to your home in the depths of winter. From the blousy Amaryllis to the delicate paper white daffodils to the knock you over scent of Hyacinths. There is much to enjoy. You need to plan early to get your mid-winter display, planting prepared bulbs in September or early October. Here are some to consider.

Hippeastrum Aphrodite

Hippeastrum Aphrodite

Hippeastrum Aphrodite: A striking form, with hansom double pink and white flowers with delicate red edges, held on tall stems, with several flowers per stem.

 Hippeastrum Barbados

Hippeastrum Barbados

Hippeastrum Barbados: This variety has Christmas written all over it. With rich striking red flowers with a central white stripe. Held on sturdy stems and if you are lucky you will get more than one stem per bulbs.

 Hyacinthus Delt Blue

Hyacinthus Delt Blue

Hyacinthus Delft Blue: This is a classic hyacinths, with a delicate pale blue and slightly darker centre, with great scent.

 Hyacinthus Pink Pearl

Hyacinthus Pink Pearl

Hyacinthus Pink Pearl: This is a deep pure pink and will add a splash of colour to a house plant mid winter display and good fragrance.

Narcissi paper white Omri:multi-headed delicate flowers on 40/50cm tall stems with a subtle scent.

Narcissi tete-a-tete

Narcissi tete-a-tete

Narcissi tete-a-tete: A good strong yellow dwarf form, from 15/20cm tall, ideal for indoor forcing. With multi-heeded small trumpet daffodils.

 Groups of forced bulbs make a great Christmas display

Groups of forced bulbs make a great Christmas display

Top tips; Always use prepared bulbs. Plant in September, early October at the latest. Use bulb fibre compost, which helps to prevent waterlogging particularly in containers with out drainage holes. Or even no compost at all, bare in mind the bulb has all the nutrients it needs in the bulb it’s self, the compost is merely there to act as an anchoring medium. It is important to choose a container that is the right depth and size for the bulbs you are planting. Also consider the colours of your bulb flowers and the sort of look you want to achieve, whether going for a classic old willow patterned chamber pot or a modern large glass jar filled with colour glass beads for an Amaryllis, or a coloured glass hyacinth jar, all should be considered. Put gravel at the bottom of your container to help with drainage, add the compost, place your bulbs in a group near the centre of the container, but so the bulbs do not touch. Have just the neck of the bulb peaking out of the top of the compost, make sure the compost finished about 30/50mm below the rim, to allow for watering. The compost surface can have a layer of decorative gravel/glass beads or even some moss from your garden (but not from the countryside). Water lightly before adding your mulch layer. Now leave the bulbs in a cool but dark place, like an outside shed or garage. An airy cardboard box can help to block out more light. Check weekly and water lightly so only moist. Once 5cm of shoots are showing, bring the pot of bulbs in doors to an unheated room with good light levels and allow the shoots to ‘green up’. Once there is good green growth, bring the bulbs into a warmer room to push the growth ahead for mid winter flowering. Use colour stems and canes to support taller flower stems.

Get creative with indoor bulb planting

Get creative with indoor bulb planting

So get planting to enjoy for Christmas!

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.

 

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.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.

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: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.

Container Gardening

 container gardening

container gardening

Of course the best place for plants is in the ground, but if your garden is a small paved courtyard, or a a bit of pavement by the front door or even a balcony, then pots and containers will form your garden. The container garden can be a vibrant and stunningly beautiful place with good plant choices and containers and growing medium to match the plant requirements, you can create a wonderful garden.

 Pots of vegetables

Pots of vegetables

A few golden rules: Think about your pots/containers carefully, bigger is better, they will dry out less quickly and the growing medium will not get exhausted as quickly either. Funky shapes with bulging sides and narrow necks look great, but are a real problem when the time comes to re-pot your beloved specimen into a larger pot. Pottery and terracotta look lovely and are very traditional but are  heavy so it you have seasonal displays or you want to move pots about after they have flowered or into a more shelter position for the winter months, they can be very heavy. Also be warned even frost proof terracotta can ‘blow’ in a very cold winter. So consider lighter weight options such as ,GRP, plastic planters, Resin-stone composite, from www.potsofplanters.co.uk Also the plant will need regular turning say once a week so the growth is even all the way round. It is also important to think about the colour of your containers, all in a similar hues, shades of blue for example, or traditional colours or contrasts, and consider the colours of foliage and flowering colour going in them. There is lots to think about,

 mix and match colour, size and shape of containers

mix and match colour, size and shape of containers

Container gardening has advantages as there is possibly less weeding and less chance plants are going to grow beyond the size you want. But it dose mean diligent planning of watering and feeding, as you are expecting your plant to put in a top performance on limited resources. For extensive container gardens a simple irrigation system running off an out side tap may well be the answer.

The other main point to consider is that for most container gardens, a few plants have to do a lot of work, as normally they are small areas so you want a plant that looks good all year round. For that reason all the plants I am going to suggest here are evergreen with good foliage as well as flower.

 Camellia x vernalis 'Yuletide'

Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’

Camellia x vernalis’Yuletide’: This is a ‘must have’ camellia, it grows well in a container and will brighten any semi shady shelter corner. It is moderately slow growing with dark green shiny leaves and small single red flowers with a mass of golden stamens and it flower intermittently from mid -October the the end of January. Plant in a good ericaceous compost, top dress with bark chip feed with ericaceous plant feed and most important of all keep it moist.

 Rhododendron 'President Roosevelt'

Rhododendron ‘President Roosevelt’

Rhododendron ‘President Roosevelt’: This is a hansom Rhododendron and makes a very good container specimen with large green leaves with a vibrant golden splash in the middle. It produces cluster of deep pink/soft red flowers with a deep white throat, mid March to early May. The same growing conditions as above, in semi-shade. PLEASE NOTE with both camellias and Rhododendrons it is very important to keep them well watered in the summer months as this is when they produce flower buds for the next year.

 Phyllostachys nigra

Phyllostachys nigra

Phyllostachys nigra: This is a statuesque bamboo, that can thrive in a container, with tall upright stems up to 2m and above, the green stems when mature turn a shiny black, with rustling mid-green foliage, keep it in a more sheltered position so the leaves do not get scorched in the winter winds. Semi-shade it will struggle in full sun. A good humus rich compost, keep moist.

 Laurus nobillis

Laurus nobillis

Laurus nobillis: The humble Bay, but what a wonderful container plant it makes especially if clipped into an elegant cone. Glossy dark foliage a great foil for seasonal bedding. A must have addition to many Italian recipes, it deserves its place in the container garden. Good multi-purpose growing medium, will cope with some drying out, full sun or dappled shade.

Lavendula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’: A small neat lavender with silvery foliage, and short flower stems of dark purple lavender flowers from June to mid August. Wonderful for the bees and insect life, brilliant for adding scent to your container garden. A great ingredient in home baking and as lavender bags to keep the months out of your woollen jumpers. A must for a sunny spot. A good multi-purpose compost, add 2 parts grit, and keep on the drier side, grows well in full sun.

 Phormium cookianum 'Flamingo'

Phormium cookianum ‘Flamingo’

Phormium cookianum ‘Flamingo’: Adds a bit of drama to your container garden. Grows well in a container, with soft arching leaves up to 70cm tall, with central mid-green and cream stripes, giving way to pink and red edges. This shrub looks good year long. Grow in good multi-purpose compost, add good crocks to aid drainage, but keep moist, best in full sun, but will cope with some shade.

olystichum polyblepharum

olystichum polyblepharum

Polystichum polyblepharum: a hansom fern for a shady to semi-shady spot. Arching fronds up to 50cm tall, mid green, with yellow edging hairs and in spring dramatic shuttle cocks of new growth. A humus rich compost, slightly acidic and keep damp.

 dramatic planted containers

dramatic planted containers

I think it is important for a good container garden to have a good back bone of dramatic evergreen shrubs of different heights and textures and to add seasonal colour with small pots of bedding and bulbs to ring the changes. I hope I have inspired you to get creative, no matter how small your outside space is, there is always room for a garden.