Evergreen ground cover

Mixed ground cover

Mixed ground cover

Ground cover, is the unsung hero of all planting schemes, whether scrambling over the base of trees in a densely shady area, or hiding unsightly man hole covers in the middle of the flower bed. Crawling under shrubs and other plants from it’s most basic being a weed suppressant to a highly decorative added element to the planting scheme. Ground cover planting deserves as much thought as the main stars of the planting show. Here are a few to consider.

 Vinca minor 'Illumination'

Vinca minor ‘Illumination’

Vinca minor ‘Ilumination’: This is a superb ‘periwinkle’ like all of the minor variates it dose not have the same thug like qualities as the major and this is a real star. A low creeping habit with dark glossy green leaves, and a striking central splash of golden variegation. With purple open flowers in early spring. Witch tolerate quite dense shade, will cope with almost all soil conditions except waterlogging.

 Geranium macrorrhizum 'Album'

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’ : A wonderful, low growing geranium with a spreading habit and easily seeds. The soft light green foliage, takes on red autumn hints when it gets cold. Soft pink buds open to white delicate flowers from mid summer, dead head to prolong flowering. Will do well in quite dark shade and dry conditions.

 Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia myrsinits: A lovely crawling ground cover plant for a sunny position on poor soil. Whirls of glaucous grey foliage spread low across the ground. Clusters of sulphur green flowers are borne at the end of the creeping stems. A striking plant.

 Lamium maculatum 'Sliver Beacon'

Lamium maculatum ‘Sliver Beacon’

Lamium maculatatum ‘Sliver Beacon’: This is a vigorous spreading plant, growing low to the groud , it can be a thug, so only plant where it can get up a head of steam. Mid green foliage with central sliver/white variegation.. With soft pink small flowers in early spring. Will cope with dense dry shade. Most soils, accept very thin and water logged soils.

 Bergenia 'Baby Doll'

Bergenia ‘Baby Doll’

Berginia ‘Baby Doll’: A valuable ground cover plant that makes crowed dense groups up to 20cm high. Of glossy dark green leaves and flower spikes of vivid pink flowers in early spring, sun to dappled shade. Grow in a humus rich soil.

 Hedra cancariensis 'Sulphur Heart'

Hedra cancariensis ‘Sulphur Heart’

Hedra cancariensis ‘Sulphur heart’ ( paddy’s pride): This ivy is the “Big daddy” of  ground cover planting. Ives are not just for large walls, they do very well scrambling across the ground. With large shinning leathery leaves of mid to dark green with a strong central yellow splash and cream leaf edges, this is a dramatic ground cover to brighten any dark corner. Will tolerate even dense dry shade and most soil types accept  water logged soil.

I hope I have inspired you to look again at ground cover planting and the many plants that fill this all important niche.

Valiant Viburnums

 Valiant Viburnums

Valiant Viburnums

Viburnums are wonderful shrubs, forming the evergreen back ground of the boarder, to specimen shrubs and much more in between, With varieties giving interest through out the seasons, there is much to recommend these fine garden plants.

 V. x bodnantenes 'Charles Lament'

Viburnum x bodnantenes ‘Charles Lament’

V. x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’: An elegant medium to large up right With mid green foliage and clusters of waxy blush pink highly scented flowers, borne on bare stems in December to January. Full sun to semi -shade.


Viburnum Carlesii

V. Carlesii: A medium sized compacted domed shrub with soft green foliage, with good crimson autumn colour. Round clusters of pure white flowers with a heady scent in April – May. Full sun.


Viburnum davidii

V. davidii: A small dense low mound forming evergreen shrub. With distinctive broad pointed oval leaves with well defined veins. White flat headed flowers in June followed by blue/black berries held well into the winter months. Full sun to shade

V.opulus Aureum

Viburnum opulus Aureum

V. opulus ‘Aureum’: A more zooped up version of the native ‘Guelder Rose’ Medium shrub with less vigorous growth and lime yellow leaves splendid autumn colour. Flat heads of white flowers May-June followed by rich red berries, thrives on thin soils. Semi-shade to full sun.

Viburnum Plicatum f. tomentosum

Viburnum Plicatum f. tomentosum

V. plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’: This is a real statement shrub and can be planted as a solo specimen. A medium sized shrub with wide tiered spreading branches, giving it a striking habit even in the winter. Mid green leaves with dark red autumn tints. Showy wide flat headed white flowers, are borne raised above the branches in mid summer. Full sun.

Viburnum tinus 'Eve Price'

Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’

V. tinus ‘Eve Price: A medium to large evergreen shrub with dark glossy leaves that will cope well in semi-shade. Small pink white flowers are feely borne in mid winter.

scented Viburnum flowers

scented Viburnum flowers

Viburnums are versatile shrubs which are easy to grow and very hardy, They will grow in most soil conditions apart from water logging. Some will even cope with thin chalk soils.

I hope I have inspired you to look again at the shear range of plants and find a spot for some viburnums in your own garden.

Scent through the Seasons

A bunch of scented roses

A bunch of scented roses

Scent, is one of the great pleasures of the garden, whether, you turn a corner on a damp winters day and a get a waft from a scented shrub or plant your nose deep in a rose. Or sit on a summer evening and scent fills the air. It is something we all enjoy.

Winter: It may be hard to imagine, but there are many scented flowering shrubs in the winter, just the thing to cheer up the walk from the garage to the back door on a gloomy winters day.

 Winter. Sarcococca ruscifolia

Winter. Sarcococca ruscifolia

Sarcococca ruscifolia: A dwarf slow growing form, with upright habit and dense evergreen shiny foliage. Highly scented clusters of small almost insignificant flowers, that pack a very big scented punch in January to February, followed by small glossy red berries. Sun to quite dense shade. Good humus rich soil.

Winter Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'

Winter Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’

Lonicera x purpusii ‘Fragrans’: A medium sized shrub with a shabby mound forming habit. Highly scented creamy yellow flowers are produced on the bare stems in mid-winter. Full sun and a little shade. Most soils.

 Spring. Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'

Spring. Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’: A small evergreen shrub with a dense mound forming habit, emerald green leaves with a narrow cream band around the edge. Clusters of blush pink waxy flowers with a powerful scent from April to early May. It is one of the few Daphne’s that will cope with some chalk. But it prefers a good soil. Sun to semi-shade.

 Spring. Skimma japonica 'Fragrans'

Spring. Skimma japonica ‘Fragrans’

Skimmer japonica ‘Fragrans’:  It is the male form of this shrub, that you need. A small compacted mound forming evergreen shrub. Covered in clusters of creamy white highly scented flowers April to May. Sun to semi-shade, humus rich soils, neutral to slightly acidic.

Summer: spoilt for choice from Lavender to roses and beyond, the garden is bathed in perfume in this season.

 Summer Philadelphus Beauclerk

Summer Philadelphus Beauclerk

Philadelphus ‘Beauclerk’: This has one of the most pungent scents of all of the ‘Mock Oranges’, it can waft over the garden on a mid summer evening. A medium sized upright shrub, mid green foliage. A mass of single white flowers with a deep maroon central splash and a very heady scent. Full sun, most soils.  A must!

 Summer. Lavandula stoechas

Summer. Lavandula stoechas

Lavender stoechas: This can be a tender variety and may need protecting in harder winters, so possible plant in a pot that can be moved into a frost free spot over the winter months. But is is well worth the effort for its strongly aromatic feathered foliage which almost smells of eucalyptus as well as lavender. With small ‘eared’  purple flower borne in mid summer. A sunny spot on free draining soil, plant somewhere your hands will naturally brush against it.

Autumn: Scent is getting a little thinner on the ground in this season but there are still a few scented shrubs to delight your smell respecters.

 Autumn Rosa 'Geoff Hamilton'

Autumn Rosa ‘Geoff Hamilton’

Rosa ‘Geoff Hamilton’: Roses have a very long flowering season particularly in the South East of England. This delightful, disease resident rose, flowers right up to the first hard frosts. With delicate soft pink flowers and a strong heady scent. Full sun and a rich soil.

 Autumn Osmanthus armatus

Autumn Osmanthus armatus

Osmanthus armatus: A large dense evergreen  shrub with upright habit to 2m and above. Dark green spiny holly like leaves. With clusters of scented white flowers in the autumn. Sun or dappled shade. humus rich moist soil. Full sun to dappled shade.

 Winter flowers- Snowdrops

Winter flowers- Snowdrops

I hope I have inspired you to think about scent when planning your garden and at all times of the year. If you would like help designing a planting scheme or even a whole garden. Then I know the woman to help you, just give me Emily a ring 01273 470753 to discuss your garden project.

Go on Get Heady with the Scent!

Vivid Variegation 

Some purists don’t have any truck with variegation, but I think they are wrong. In the dull days of late autumn and in a shady corner, variegation can bring a vibrancy to planting and add an extra dimension  Here are some plants to consider.

 Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald and Gold'

Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald and Gold’

Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald and’ Gold’:  A wonderful sturdy evergreen shrub. With shiny mid green leaves with a thick band of yellow variegation on the edges. It is a small shrub and will grow in full sun to part shade on most soils, but will not tolerate water logging. It can even be trained as a good dense wall shrub.

Sadly there is no Free from copyright image to illustrate this plant.

Phormium ‘Maori Sunrise’:  A dramatic evergreen shrub with bold sword like foliage, which arches gracefully. The leaves are a mix of bands of colour, from soft pink, to red and cream.  A good statement shrub or for a focal point pot. A Small to medium sized shrub, grows on most free draining soils in full sun or a little shade.

 Pittsoporum tenifllium 'Garetti'

Pittsoporum tenifllium ‘Garnetti’

Pittosorum  tenuifollum ‘Garnettii’:  A hansom medium to large evergreen shrub. With a broad conical habit and beautiful foliage. Small clusters of wavy edged leaves in soft green with white almost sliver variegation, produced on dramatic black stems. Makes a dense shrub or even a small tree. Good to lighten the back of a large border.

 Cornus alba 'Ellantissma'

Cornus alba ‘Ellantissma’

Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’:  This is a beautiful medium sized shrub. With all the dramatic winter colour of it’s red stems and the added bonus of soft green and cream variegation. Like all dogwoods, very tough and will grow almost any where as long as it is not to dry. Sun to semi-shade.

 Mischanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'

Mischanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus: This is a stunning grass which has the wow facture. Growing to nearly 2m tall. Its upright green leaves have thick horizontal yellow stripes, defiantly one for the jungle garden. Grows well in full sun in water retentive soil.

Iris pallida 'Varegata'

Iris pallida ‘ Aurea Varegata’

Iris  pallida ‘ Aurea  Variegata’: There is lots to love about this mid height bearded Iris. It’s scented light mauve flowers and its grey leaves with striped cream variegation add a little extra. Grow on well draining soil in full sun.

 Vinca minor 'Illumination'

Vinca minor ‘Illumination’

Vinca minor ‘Ilumination’: This is a wonderful new variety of the lesser ‘periwinkle’ it has been around for a few years now and is a must for a dark and gloomy corner. An evergreen ground cover, that crawls over the ground and will grow in dark shade in most soils. The mid green glossy leaves have a large central splash of gold. Small open purple flowers are produced in spring.

 Varigated foliage adds a splash of foliage colour in a display of containers.

Variegated foliage adds a splash of foliage colour in a display of containers.

Top tip: If you suddenly see sections of your plant reverting to plain green, then get going with the sectors and prune them out. Remember variegated foliage is not as strong growing as normal green foliage, so if you don’t act your plant will quickly loose all its variegation and revert back to plain green.

I hope I have inspired you to look again at variegated foliage, it is not just white variegation, but gold, pink and many other colours. Evergreen variegated plants really have an added bonus in the winter months. Add an extra touch of colour to your garden.



The Garden Harvest.

 Autumn Harvest

Autumn Harvest

October heralds the garden harvest, when all your hard labours in the fruit and vegetable garden are now realised. It often also produces a glut of produce and once you have exhausted all your family and friends with ‘food parcels’, the next thing to do is get preserving so all this tasty home produce can be enjoyed through the winter months ahead. Here are a few ideas.

Apple Bramley's Seedling

Apple Bramley’s Seedling

Apple Bramley’s Seedling: The classic cooker, found in many gardens, needs 2 pollinators, crops November to March. Large fruits with crisp juicy flavour.

Tomato 'Gardener' Delight'

Tomato ‘Gardener’ Delight’

Tomato Gardener’s Delight: A well know variety that is an easy to grow cane fruit, with medium sized red salad tomatoes.

Green Tomato and Apple Chutney: A classic chutneys and prefect for glut crop

Recipe: 900g/2lb Cooking apples, peeled, cored and remove all bruised and damaged areas. Rough chopped.

15ml/1tbsp: mustard seed, 900g/2lb, green tomatoes rough chopped.

350gms/ 12oz Onions, skinned and rough chopped. 1Garlic clove, skinned and finely chopped.

225g/8oz Sultans. 350G/12ozs demerara sugar. 25ml/5tsp curry powder. 5ml/1tsp cayenne pepper.

20ml/4tsp salt. 900ml/1 ¼ pints malt vinegar.

  • Using a large preserving pan. Put the apples in with ½ pint of water and cook till tender.
  • Add all the other ingredients and stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Heat gently for about 3 hrs, stirring occasionally, to prevent sticking, until most of the liquid has gone and the chutney is a soft brown colour.
  • Prepare sterilised jars, warm ready, pot the chutney will still hot, and cover in the usual way with waxed discs (wax surface down).
  • Label and store. Tip: due to the vinegar in chutney, metal jar lids will go rusty, so use plastic lids or just the cellophane covers.
 Blackberry Lochness

Blackberry Lochness

Blackberry Loch Ness: Thornless variety which is a reliable cropper. With large berries.

Blackberry cheese: cheeses became very popular in Elizabethan times it is like a very solid jam that can be stored in an open dish and be cut into sliced or squares to be enjoyed on crackers or toast.

Recipe:  900g/2lbs Blackberries, ripe and undamaged. 450G/1b cooking apples, peeled cored and rough chopped.  Sugar ( quantity depends on the weight of the fruit puree)

  • Put all the fruit into a large persevering pan with 1 pint of water and cook for about 30 mins until fruit is tender.
  • Now spoon the fruit into a large sieve and press through with a wooden spoon. Measure the puree. For every 600ml/1 pint of puree add 350g/12oz of sugar.
  • Heat gently stirring the sugar until dissolved., bring to the boil cook until the mixture becomes thick and the wooden spoon leaves a clean line when drawn through the mixture.
  • All need to be sterilized. Either put in jars or shallow dishes and cover in the normal way or the cheese can be put into small moulds, so the cheese can be set and then turned out and served whole.
 Redcurrent 'Red Lake'

Redcurrent ‘Red Lake’

Red current Red Lake: Mid -season current with bright red fruit and a heavy cropper.

Raspberry 'Malling Jewel'

Raspberry ‘Malling Jewel’

Raspberry Malling Jewel: Main crop, firm good flavoured fruit perfect for freezing and persevering.

Summer fruits in Vodka: There is nothing like experimenting with flavours by adding  fruit flavours to your favourite spirits. They also make great Christmas gifts as the fruit will have infused after a few months.

Recipe: 450gs/1lb of mixed soft fruit, red currents, raspberries, loganberries. All stems and leaves removed and any damaged fruit. 17g/6oz caster sugar. Vodka

  • Thoroughly clean a large glazed stone ware jar, with firm lid and which can fit a saucer inside it.
  • Toss the fruit in the sugar until completely covered and leave for 2 hrs.
  • Layer the fruit into the jar, then pour in enough vodka to completely cover the fruit.
  • Place the saucer on top of the fruit to keep it completely submerged. Now cover with a layer of tight cling film. Add the lid and store in a cool dry place.
  • Every week or so stir the mixture to make sure the sugar and vodka are fully mixed. Make sure you cover well.
  • Label and store for at least 1 month before using, the longer you can hold off the better the flavour. The fruits can be eaten with ice cream or cream and the fruit vodka will be like a liqueur.
 Damson Farleigh

Damson Farleigh

Damson Farleigh: Also know as the Crittenden Damson, The earliest Damson to crop. No need for a pollinator. Good flavoured black fruit with green juicy flesh.

Damson Jam: This is a beautifully flavoured jam and well worth making as it is not available in shops.

Recipe: 2.3kg/5lbs wash and undamaged and ripe Damsons. 2.7kg/6bls sugar. A knob of butter.

1) Put the fruit in a preserving pan with 900ml/1.1/2 pints of water. simmer until the fruit is soft and pulpy.

2) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add the butter.

3) Put back on the heat and boil. Using a slot spoon, remove the stones as they come to                   the  surface.

4) Continue to boil until setting point is reached.

5) Remove any scum from surface with slot spoon, pot and cover in the usual way.

 Damson Farleigh

Crab Apple John Downie

Crab-Apple John Downie: A large showy crab-apple with upright habit. White blossom and in September large conical yellow flushed red fleshy fruit, full of flavour.

Crab- Apple Jelly: Jellys are beautiful with their clear colour and full flavour. Either used with roast meets, traditionally Lamb or cold meats or as a less sweet treat on scones.

Recipe: 2.5kg/5.1/2 lbs washed undamaged crab-apples all stalks and leaves removed. 6 cloves. Sugar ( depending on quantity of jelly)

1) Rough crop the crab -apples ( do not peel or core!). Put in preserving pan with 1.7L/3 pints of water. Bring to boil. Simmer for about 1.5hrs. Until fruit soft and pulpy. Stir to stop sticking. Add a little more water if needed.

2) Spoon the fruit into a jelly bag. Turn a short stall upside down. Attach the jelly cloth to the 4 legs and  leave to drain into a large bowl. ( over night is good.)

3) Once all the liquid has drained through the bag, discard the pulp.

4)  Measure the liquid. For every 600L/1 pint of liquid add 450g/1lb of sugar. Return to pan and heat gently.

5)  Stir to prevent from sticking and bring to the boil, boil until setting point is reached.

6) Remove any scum and pot and cover in the usual way.

 Enjoying Homemade Jam

Enjoying Homemade Jam

Top Tip: for all preserving, use ripe ( depending on the recipe) and most importantly undamaged fruit. Good equipment; a jam thermometer is a must. All jars and bottles need to be clean and then sterilized . Make sure all tops and lids are also sterilized. For jams, jellies, chutneys and relishes make sure you have wax discs and cellophane tops and rubber bands. NB the waxed side of the disc is what goes against the jam/chutney surface. A pack of labels with date made and in Chutney case a date it can  be eaten ( All chutneys need about 3 months to mellow before eating, so one made in October will be perfect for the cold ham and turkey on boxing day!)

 Stored jams, preserves, chutneys and pickles from the garden harvest

Stored jams, preserves, chutneys and pickles from the garden harvest

I hope I have inspired you to get cracking with preserving your crops or even to get planting some fruit so you can  have home made, jams, jellies, fruit spirits and liqueurs and chutneys and relishes on tap. So even in the depths of winter you can still enjoy the abundance of summer.

Enjoy !


 Prairie planting

Prairie planting

Prairie planting is often short hand for a more naturalistic style of planting that started to be made popular in Germany in the 1970’s and 1980’s and by great exponents like Piet Oudolf and Nigel Dunnett among others. It tends to concentrate on using grasses and mostly but not always late flowering perennials. Hence the ‘prairie ‘ part of the name, using a lot of North American and Mexican native plants. Using a reduced pallet of plants that thrive on the same soil and climatic conditions and maintenance requirements. The plants are planted in bold groups and sweeps, with the odd accent plant (Piet Oudolf and the early German style) and Nigel Dunnett has taken the principles of the same habitat requirements and planted in a more naturalistic way, where the varieties are ‘scatter’ through the planting either totally mixed or the odd one or two together or a few in larger groups, to give a look that broadly represents planting in nature. So here are a few plants to consider, that work well in Prairie planting.

 Panicum virgatum 'Heavymetal'

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavymetal’

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’: This is a top favourite of mine, possible because of the name? Stiff metallic grey leaves in good upright clumps up to 90cm tall. Powder blue flowers turn soft yellow in the autumn, up to 1.20m in height. Prefers a richer moisture retentive soil.

 Pennisetum aloepearoides

Pennisetum aloepearoides

Pennisetum alopecuroides: clumps of mid green arching leaves up to 75cm.With soft feathery brown spikes of flowers produced August to October that turn yellow in winter. Flowers best in full sun. Will cope with dryer soils.

 Rudbeckia fulgida var. sulivantii 'Goldstrum'

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sulivantii ‘Goldstrum’

Rubeckia fulgida sulllivantii ‘Goldstrum’: The late flowering perennials never fails to gladden the heart, it produced massive of buttercup golden  daisy like flowers with a distinctive black centre from August, right up to the first frost. Above mid green clumps of leaves. Reaching heights of 70cm. It likes a good moisture retentive soil in full sun.

 Helianthus Lemon Queen

Helianthus Lemon Queen

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’: Sunflowers, what a joy in late summer and this is a beautiful soft lemon one, that flowers freely from July to September, up to 150m tall, planted in a clumps, so they have maximum impacted. And plant in full sun.

Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'

Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’

Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’: this is a twist on common ‘golden rod’ and no ware near as invasive. It produced dense clumps from 1 to 1.5m, with graceful long racemes of golden flowers from late summer well into autumn, it likes a good moist soil, neutral to acid.

 Echinops bannaticus 'Globe Blue'

Echinops bannaticus ‘Globe Blue’

Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Globe’: clump forming with large, serrated dark green leaves with white undersides, spiral up the tall 80cm-1m stems. Round thistle like blue flowers, much loved by insects from July to September. Will grow on most soils. Full sun.

Vivid Prairie Planting

Vivid Prairie Planting

Tips:  First decide what soil type you have and how, fertile it is and how moisture retentive it is. A lot of the classic prairie type plants, surprisingly like quite a lot of moister, I have seen Helianthus growing in drainage ditches in Kansas. It is important to choose plants that are going to grow well on your site and grow well together. It is important to decide which are going to be the thugs, and rampant self seeders, to  reduce their number and possible slightly contain them so they will not over whelmed the scheme. Remember the thing about naturalist/prairie planting, once it is established it is meant to look after it’s self to give it that natural look, so your choice of plants needs to grow well together. Watering well and weeding well in the first couple of growing seasons will be needed for the prairie scheme to establish. The joy of the planting is that although it is very heavy on perennials although there is no reason why some sub-shrubs and even shrubs can not be used, the planting is left to stand for the winter, giving invaluable resource to wildlife, but also the grasses looking great in winter winds and the seed heads wonderful in the frost and snow.

Then end of February or early March here in the south east of England, cut all old flowering stems down and most grass varieties to the ground, spread a good thick layer of organic mulch to help keep the moisture in and feed the planting and most importantly to help suppress the weeds.

 Prairie planting in the winter

Prairie planting in the winter

I hope I have inspired you to consider creating a Prairie garden or at least planting up an existing boarder in a more naturalist style. If you would like help creating your Prairie garden, do give me, Emily a ring 01273 470753, I would be delighted to discuss your planting project with you.

Sussex Heritage Trust Award Winner 2023

The Byre - Sussex Heritage 2023 Winner

The Byre – Sussex Heritage 2023 Winner

Sussex Heritage 2023 Winner logoThe Byre is a 13th C. grade II listed flint barn. It’s restoration and conversion and it’s surrounding landscaping and pond were awarded a Sussex Heritage Trust 2023 award in the small residential category.

Read the full story of the restoration of the pond, it’s surrounding landscape into a variety of different wildlife habitats and connecting the Byre and it’s new extension with steps and paths to the new garden, using local materials, in keeping with the historic building and the South Downs National Park environment.

The jetty after a few years of growth, leading out through the pond rushes to the water.

The jetty after leads through the rushes to the waters edge.

Learn more about the Sussex Heritage Awards.

Arcadia Garden Design, worked with the clients from surveying of the site, to commissioning environmental reports, designing the pond and surrounding landscaping, producing all the technical and construction drawings for the project from the steps leading from the Byre to the restoration of the pond and the jetty. Designing all the planting and carrying out the aquatic. marginal and bog garden planting.

The pond after a few years, the planting has now settled in.

Views across the pond to the Byre.

Find out about staying at the Byre – A luxury retreat, lovingly created from the restored Barn, set in the heart of the South Downs National Park.

Hooray for Hemercallis

 Hemerocallis a splash of different colours

Hemerocallis a splash of different colours

These tough as boots grow pretty much any where hard working perennials, need to be ‘shouted’ about much more. They come in small up to 50mm to pretty large up to1m in height and will grow in sun or partial shade in most moist soils. They come in a wide range of colours from white, pink,  to many different yellows and golds to burning oranges to deep reds. Some are even multi coloured. From robust singles to ruffled doubles and delicate spider trumpets, there surely is a Hemercallis to suite every taste! Here are just a few to sample.

 Hemerocallis 'Chorky'

Hemerocallis ‘Chorky’

H. ‘Corky’: This is a top favourite of mine, with robust mid green sword like foliage and refined slim trumpet flowers on tall stems in buttery golden yellow with stripes of brown on the back of the petals. Flowering mid summer with a later splash of flowers in late summer.

Hemerocallis 'Joan Senior'

Hemerocallis ‘Joan Senior’

H. ‘Joan Senior’: This is an elegant mid height hemercallis, with clear white flowers with a deep light green throat, wonderful for a white planting scheme or dappled shade.

 Hermerocallis 'Luxury Lace'

Hermerocallis ‘Luxury Lace’

H. ‘Luxury Lace’: This is a rather blousy soft focus Hemerocallis at 60/70cm tall with mid-green foliage and large ruffled edged flowers in soft apricot/pink with a green throat.

 Hemerocallis 'Stella de oro'

Hemerocallis ‘Stella de oro’

H.’Stella de Oro’: this is a wonderful small variety up to 40/50cm with clumps of skinny light green leaves and wide open bright yellow flowers. Flowering mid-summer.

 Hermerocallis 'Burning Daylight'

Hermerocallis ‘Burning Daylight’

H. ‘Burning Daylight’: This Hemerocallis creates a large bold clump up to 70cm tall, with eye popping intense fire orange flowers which are scented, one for the hot garden. Flowering June/July.

Hemerocallis 'Crimson Pirate'

Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’

H. ‘Crimson Pirate: This is a striking Hemerocallis with spidery vivid red flowers a real garden talking point. Flowering mid summer.

 just some of the stunning colours of Hemerocallis

just some of the stunning colours of Hemerocallis

This over looked perennials demands more use whether as a splash in mixed planting, or a giant edging sweep along the front of the border. I hope I have inspired you to look again at Hemerocallis.

The Potager- Ornamental Vegetable and Herb Garden.


 A Potager Garden

A Potager Garden

The Potager garden was originally designed by medieval French monks, but its hay day was in the 16Cth. When no french garden would be complete with out one. A potager is an ornamental vegetable, fruit and herb garden. With symmetrical and geometric patterned flower beds, intersected by narrow paths. The fruit and vegetables are as ornamental as possible but also edible and planted in groups and in decretive patterns.

Here are some varieties to get you started on the design of your potager.

 Laurus nobilis as a clipped hedge.

Laurus nobilis as a clipped hedge.

Laurus nobilis- bay, in fact a large evergreen tree. But it can be chipped and trained into many topiary shapes from, cones, squares and lolly-pops. These trimmed trees will add structure to your Potager garden even in the winter months. You can add an extra dimension by training your lolly-pop standards to have twisted trunks. The leaves are used to flavour sauces and meat dishes particularly in Italian cookery. A must to define the axis’s of your design.

Rosmarinus officinallis 'Miss Jessopp's Upright'

Rosmarinus officinallis ‘Miss Jessopp’s Upright’

Rosmarinus officinallis ‘Miss Jessopp’s Upright’: although Rosemary has in fact been re-classified as a Salvia, I think it is still best known as Rosmarinus and all nurseries will know what you are asking for. This is a lovely variety of the evergreen shrub with a small compact habit and upright stems, making it perfect as a low hedge to edge the vegetable beds of the Potager. The aromatic leaves are used in both savory and sweet dishes and to scent clothes draws. The flowers are also edible.

 Thymus serphyllum 'Russetings'

Thymus serphyllum ‘Russetings’

Thymus serphllum ‘Russetings’ : A wonderful evergreen low creeping thyme, which will grow in the cracks of the paths or run around under standards like gooseberries and bay trees. With a mass of pretty small purple flowers much loved by insects from mid summer. It has the added advantage of being a mainstay of the culinary herbs being just widely in the recipes of many cuisines.

 Apple saturn 'Stepover'

Apple saturn ‘Stepover’

Apple Saturn ‘Stepover’ : grown on the most dwarfing stock, M27, these apples have been developed to grow low to the ground almost like a horizontal cordon, so you can step over them as the name suggests. A wonderful talking point to edge the main path. This variety is self-fertile, has good disease resistance and is a superb apple, with a strong flavour and a crisp flesh which is very juicy. Pick October and keeps to January. Surely a must for you Potager.

 Rainbow chard cut & come again

Rainbow chard cut & come again

Rainbow Chard: This is a wonderful vegetable which can be harvested for many months and particularly comes into it’s own in the autumn and winter when it has it’s main cropping season, just cut the stems and remove the tougher leaves but eat both stem and leaf. But it’s ornamental merit is what is attractive for the potager. It has vivid stems in white, cream, pink, red, orange and yellow. A stunning vegetable, that tastes good to.

Cynara scolymus 'Gros Vert de Leon'-Globe artichoke

Cynara scolymus ‘Gros Vert de Leon’-Globe artichoke

Cynara scolymus ‘Grosvert de Lean’: This is a statuesque hardy variety of Globe Artichoke from France. It produces a great sword of sliver grey leaves and a a tall flower pick up to 2m tall. With tight round green buds which are very succulent and have a knock out taste are produced in late summer. If you miss the odd one or two in your harvest then they will open to reveal their beautiful blue thistle like flowers. Insects will love the flowers and birds the seeds.

 A potager garden

A potager garden

Top tips: The site for your Potager should be in full sun if possible a little shade from the odd tree over part of it is probably ok. But don’t forget it is all about symmetry so you want the same key plants to mirror in different parts of the garden then having the same light conditions through out will help. Also don’t forget that some flowers are also edible and this can increase the amount of colour in your potager garden. Marigold, Borage, violas and natstershams to name a few.

 The mixed planting of a Potager garden

The mixed planting of a Potager garden

I hope I have inspired you to have a go at creating your own Potager, if you don’t feel confident having a go your self, then I know just the woman who can help you, just give me Emily a ring on 01273 470753.

Don’t forget, in a Potage Garden the edibles are the stars not ornamental flowers.

Spiraea, Philadelphus and Weigela- Late Spring-Early Summer Shrubs

 Spring and Summer flowering shrubs

Spring and Summer flowering shrubs

Spiraea, Philadelphus and Weigela, could be considered to be the holy trinity of summer flowering shrubs, these are the back bone and structure to any good large boarder planting scheme. Often summer colour is thought of as roses and herbaceous planting and shrubs get over looked. But they have much to add when in and out of flower and no good planting scheme would be with out these three. Here are some varieties to consider.

 Philadelphus Belle Etoile

Philadelphus Belle Etoile

Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’: ‘mock orange’, it is all about the scent with Philadelphus, and this variety has to be amongst the best. A medium sized shrub with tall upright, arching growth, gives a statuesque feel to the boarder. Mid green leaves and wide open white flowers flushed with a  maroon centre. Flowering June to July. Sun part shade.

 Pheladelphus Manteau d' Hermine

Pheladelphus Manteau d’ Hermine

Phiadelphus ‘Manteau d’ Hermine’: A compact variety producing a neat mound of low growth with fresh green leaves. Long lasting sweetly scented flowers June into July. Will grow in any reasonable soil with good drainage, they do not like being water logged.

Spiraea Arguta

Spiraea Arguta

Spiraea aruguta: ‘ Bridal wreath’, this is a truly spectacular late spring early summer shrub, when in full flower. A mound forming medium sized shrub with long arching branches, it really must be given it’s head and allowed to fully develop its habit, which is graceful and eye stopping, but sadly to often is hacked into submission. Small clusters of white flowers produced in profusion line the branches from April to May. Followed by small mid-green leaves. Sun or a little shade.

 Spiraea japonica 'Candle Light'

Spiraea japonica ‘Candle Light’

Spirea japonica ‘Candle Light’: This is a small compact growing Spiraea ideal for the small garden or flower bed. With a compact dense habit and small bushy soft yellow leaves that mature into a strong yellow. Flat heads of soft pink flowers are produced from July to August. Sun or a little shade. These tough  shrubs will put up with a lot of different soil conditions but not water logging.

 Weigela florida 'Foliis Purpureis'

Weigela florida ‘Foliis Purpureis’

Weigela florida ‘Foliis Purpureis’: A small to medium shrub which is slow growing with a dense compact habit. With grey-purplish leaves which act as a stunning foil for the pink trumpet like flowers produced in clusters from May to June. Grow in full sun although will tolerate a little shade. All good well drained soils.

 Weigela florida variegate

Weigela florida variegate

Weigela flordia varigata: Medium sized shrub with a dense habit. Leaves have a delicate variegation of creamy white edging to the leaves. Scented pink flowers in June. Best grown in dappled shade, so the variegated leaves do not get scorched.

 Spring shrubs can be wonderful in pots and containers

Spring shrubs can be wonderful in pots and containers

Tips: These three hardy shrubs will grow nearly anywhere. From good rich soil to thin chalk. They like good light levels and a sunny spot, but the yellow leaved and variegated forms of all three shrubs are prone to scorching in very hot sunny potions. Only prune if really needed, to reduce size or remove very old or diseases wood. If you have chosen the right shrub for the space it should not need to be pruned. If you do need to prune, then after flowering is the best time, to allow for regrowth and the development of next years flowers.

 All these beautiful shrubs, add a bold splash of colour to the late spring garden.

All these beautiful shrubs, add a bold splash of colour to the late spring garden.

I hope I have inspired you to take a fresh look at these under used shrubs, with their long flowering season, scent, spectacular flower displays and varied foliage colour. As well as the range of sizes. These shrubs really do deserve to be planted much more widely.

If you need help to revamp a planting area and to redesign a planting scheme, then I know just the woman to help you. Give me Emily a ring on 01273 470753, to discuss all your garden design needs.

Pretty in Pink

 A pink flower border

A pink flower border

The white garden and even now the hot garden and cool counter part, has been pretty much ‘done’ to death. So if you want to be in the vanguard of a new look, why not hit your dreamy feminine side, get all ‘Barbara Cartland’ and go ‘Pretty in Pink’.  Here are a few plants to get you started.

Hebe 'Great Orme'

Hebe ‘Great Orme’

Hebe ‘Great Orme’: A wonderful domed evergreen shrub up to 1.2/1.5m in size. With Swirls of long mid-green leaves and large dramatic spikes of bi-coloured flowers from rick pink to soft white. Mid summer. Any good free draining soil. Full sun.

 Syringa pubescens Subsp. microphylla 'Superba'

Syringa pubescens Subsp. microphylla ‘Superba’

Syringa pubescens subp. Microphylla ‘Superba: This is a lovely slowish growing compact Lilic. Getting to about 1.5m in height or a little taller. Small rounded mid green leaves. With small clustered mid pink flower clusters which are highly scented in June – July. Good soil full sun.

 Rosa 'Gertude Jekyll'

Rosa ‘Gertude Jekyll’

Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’: This is a vigorous upright rose, produced by David Austin. Up to 2m, also can be used as a short climber for a fence or arch way. Good disease resistance. Eye popping shocking pink cupped flowers with strong scent produced from early summer up to the frosts. Good humus rich soil with good moisture retention. In full sun.

 Anemone hupehensis japonica 'Prinz Heinrich'

Anemone hupehensis japonica ‘Prinz Heinrich’

Anemone hupehensis japonica ‘Prinz Heinrich’: This is a great end of summer perennial that will just flower and flower. The huge advantage is it is shorter than most Anemones at 70cm and much better behaved, it is less likely to spread. Flowering from July to the first frosts with rich pink open flowers and golden stamens. Full sun or part shade. To even quite dense shade. Most soils.

 Bergenia 'Eroica'

Bergenia ‘Eroica’

Bergina ‘Eroica’:fabulous low growing ground cover perennial. Evergreen with rounded leathery leaves of mid green that go a superb wine red in the colder months. Flowers held on red stems are a eye shocking magenta with a black central eye. March/April. Good humus rich soil dappled shade.

 Salvia hemorosa 'Rosa Queen'

Salvia hemorosa ‘Rosa Queen’

Salvia nemorosa ‘Rose Queen: Clusters of base leaves in mid green and a mass of mid pink flower spikes produced from May to August, this perennial earns its keep. Height 45cm. Full sun well drained soil.

 Pretty in Pink !

Pretty in Pink !

I hope I have inspired you to try something a little different, whether you decide on one particular shade of pink or mix it up, don’t forget shades of foliage and even pink new growth. Splashes of white can help to space the colours, you can go as mad or as restrained as your creative juices desire. Good Luck.

Don’t forget,if you want help creating an eye catching pink garden, I would be happy to help, just give me Emily a ring 01273 470753.

The Gravel Garden

 A gravel Garden

A gravel Garden

The Gravel Garden, was brought to public notice, by the wonderful gravel garden that Beth Chatto created out of the car park, of her garden in Essex. It has developed into a particular garden style, not only defined, by free draining soils and in full sun. But the radio plants to decorative mulch and rocks and stones. The plants tend to be more spaced and in small groups, so the individual habit can be enjoyed. The choose of mulching chippings is important, to frame the plants and large Peebles, rocks and stones can also be used, begging the question when is a gravel garden not a rock garden? Most gravel gardens tend to be flat or on slight slopes, with generous irregular shaped beds and winding paths, allowing self seeding to create the informality that is a hall-mark of a gravel garden. Here are some plants to consider.

Cistus dansereaui 'Decumbens'

Cistus dansereaui ‘Decumbens’

Cistus dansercaui ‘Decumbens’:  A good compact small cistus, with aromatic evergreen foliage. Wide flat open papery flowers, which are white with a big splash of red at the centre and golden stamens. Flowering June into July. Full sun.


Ceratostigma willmottianum

Ceratostigma willmottianum

Ceratostigma ‘Willmottianum’: A small open twiggy shrub, with stems that are red  with small leaves that turn a rich red in autumn. Clusters of sky  blue flowers with white centres are produced freely from late summer up to the first frost. Full sun

 Ulex europaeus 'Flore Pleno'

Ulex europaeus ‘Flore Pleno’

Ulex europaeus ‘Flore pleno’: A mound forming compact shrub with prickly evergreen foliage. Sweetly scented double flowers produced from April-May and into June. Full sun.

 Hebe 'Red Edge'

Hebe ‘Red Edge’

Hebe’ Red Edge’: A lovely densely mounding low hebe with dramatic evergreen sliver foliage which has winter tints of red and purple. The flowers are pretty insignificant and are small and white, if produced in mid summer. It is all about the foliage.

 Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia myrsinites: This is a very unusual looking plant, it creeps and crawls its way across the ground. It is evergreen, with pea-green stems with sparsely produced green glorious leaves and clusters of pea-green flowers in April. A must for the edge of the gravel  garden. Full sun.

 Heleanthemum 'Wisley Primrose'

Heleanthemum ‘Wisley Primrose’

Helianthemum ‘Wisley Primrose’: No gravel garden would be complete  with out a mound forming and spreading rock rose. This is a lovely sliver leaved variety with soft yellow flowers from mid to late summer. Full sun.

 A very colourful gravel garden

A very colourful gravel garden

Top Tips: Gravel gardens require very good drainage and are best in a sunny spot on poor free drainage soil. You can help the drainage of your gravel garden, by adding pea-beach and horticultural grit. Also by mounding the planting beds with crushed stone or even crushed brick, before adding a layer or top soil mixed with gravel. Choose gravel and chippings for mulching that are local to your area, are you going to vary the sizes, so the paths are different? Decide if you are going to have groups of  larger stones as focal points in the planting or around specimen shrubs. Are there going to be large rocks at path junctions or as seats. There is a lot to consider when designing your gravel garden.

If you would  like help designing a gravel garden, then I know just the person to give you a hand. Give me Emily a ring on 01273 470753 to discuss your garden project. I would be delighted to help.