Geraniums-One for every aspect.

Geraniums are a great cover.

Geraniums are a great cover.

Geraniums are wonderful herbaceous perennials, not to be confused, with the Polygonums beloved for their striking flowers in summer bedding. They scramble, they form well ordered clumps and they carpet. They cope with very dry to slightly damp conditions, to full sun to dry shade. The variety and number to choose from is staggering. There surely must be a geranium to suit every situation in the garden as well as every gardeners taste.

 Geranium cinareum 'Ballerina'

Geranium cinareum ‘Ballerina’

G. cinareum ‘Ballerina’ : A good geranium for a sunny spot, it is has a compact habit and only grows to 10cm tall, it is idea for Rockies. It is free flowering from may to September with soft lilac pink flowers with distinctive red veining.

 Geranium 'Johnston's Blue'

Geranium ‘Johnston’s Blue’

G. ‘Johnston’s Blue: An old favourite, large clumps of mid green foliage with deeply palamate leaves up to 35cm tall with clear blue flowers on mass from May to August, will grow in full sun to semi-shade.

Geranium macrorrhizum 'Album'

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’

G. macrorrhizum ‘Album’: A superb semi-evergreen geranium for semi-shade in a dry spot. Forming dense carpets of mid green foliage, which colours an attractive red bronze in colder winter weather. Delicate papery white flowers are produced from June to July.

 Geranium phaeum

Geranium phaeum

Geranium ‘Phaeum’: This is a hansom tall geranium reaching 60 -80cm in height. It will cope well with dense dry shade. Its leaves have maroon blotches in the centre. Flowers of dark purple/maroon are held on tall stems. Flowering from May -July.

 Geranium pratense 'Mrs Kendall Clark'

Geranium pratense ‘Mrs Kendall Clark’

Geranium pratense ‘Mrs Kendall Clark’:This is a lovely geranium for a heavier soil in full sun. Up to 75cm tall with a clump habit. Lilac-blue flowers with white/pink veining, produced on mass from June to August.

Geranium wallchianum 'Buxton's Variety'

Geranium wallchianum ‘Buxton’s Variety’

Geranium wallchiannum ‘Buxton’s’: This is a truly wonderful geranium it is a Scambler, that will do well in full sun to semi-shade. It can be allowed to crawl through the bottom of shrubs. It has light green leaves with pink stems and open purple/blue flowers with a white centre and black stamens, making a striking impression where ever it pops up in the planting. It flowers from June to September.

 Geraniums are a superb garden plant and a must for all gardens.

Geraniums are a superb garden plant and a must for all gardens.

Top Tip: To get repeat flowering from your geraniums, shear off the spent flower heads after the main flowering, to get a later flush towards the end of the summer and into the start of autumn.

I hope I have inspired you to add to your geranium collection. These herbaceous perennials are very easy to grow and extremely good natured about most planting positions, they can get a bit carried away and perhaps need keeping in check particular in newly planted boarders where the shrubs are small and establishing as it it doesn’t take long for a geranium to get settled in and make it’s presence felt. Happy planting!

If you would like help planning and designing your garden, I Know a woman who can help you 1 Do give me Emily a ring to discuss your garden project. Tel;01273 470753.

The Jewel Garden

 Tulips-Orange, Purple, striking pink, all Jewel colours.

Tulips-Orange, Purple, striking pink, all Jewel colours.

The Jewel Garden – through pastels out the window and think intense retina popping colour! Regal purples, claret rich reds, imperial orange, if the plants were materials for the richest clothes then they would be velvet, satin and  silk. The jewel garden should be a vassal over load of contracting colours vying for your attention. Here are some to wet your appetite

 Tulipa 'May Time'

Tulipa ‘May Time’

Tulipa ‘Maytime’; A beautiful mid-height lily type tulip. Flowering mid to late April. A vivid mid-purple, with the top of the petals slightly reflexed. Free draining soli in full sun

 Tulipa 'Ballerina'

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’: A stunning eye popping bright orange Tulip, with a narrow vase shaped flower. This is a mid-season lily type tulip of 40/50cm in height. Free draining soil in full sun.

 Iris 'Black Swan'

Iris ‘Black Swan’

Iris ‘Black Swan’: A tall breaded iris of 90cm/1m tall. With swords of glorious grey foliage. Rich velvety dark purple almost black flowers are produced in May. Poor well draining soil in full sun.

 Agapanthus 'Purple Cloud'

Agapanthus ‘Purple Cloud’

Agapanthus ‘Purple Cloud’: A dramatic dark purple flowered Agapanthus. Clumps of dark green foliage with flower spikes produced late Summer August into September, with large round flower heads made up of dark blue/purple bells. A good rich soil moisture retentive in full sun.

 Crococosmia 'Lucifer'

Crococosmia ‘Lucifer’

Crococosmia ‘Lucifer’: A vivid deep scarlet red, this crococosmia is a must for any jewel garden. A tall stand of mid-green leaves up to 1m in high. With flower stems ridding above the foliage. A succession of rich red flowers open along the top of the stems. Full sun to semi-shade. Good to poor soil.

 Penstemon andenken 'Friedrich Hahn'

Penstemon andenken ‘Friedrich Hahn’

Penstemon andenken ‘Friedrich Hahn’: A wonderful penstomon, flowering from July through to the end of September, making a large sprawling clump with flower spikes up to 70cm. Rich dark garnet coloured bell shaped flowers borne in clusters along the flowering stems. Make it a wonderful addition to the jewel garden. Good humus rich soil in full sun. They can be short lived and a bit tender, but are easy to take cuttings from.

 The joys of the Jewel garden

The joys of the Jewel garden

Top Tip: Your jewel garden or flower boarder dose not all have to be about flower colour, think of berries and fruits and dramatic contracting purple and golden foliage, get experimental. Also there are a wide range of new Silvia varieties to  try, not all are fully hardy but with their long flowering season, they can be a major ingredient of your new jewel garden. I hope I have inspired you to get creative.

If you need help creating your Jewel Garden I know just the woman to give you a hand, contact Emily at Arcadia Garden Design on 01273 470753.


No Mow May-Let the Lawn Go!

Mowing a lawn

Mowing a lawn

The Royal Horticultural  Society have started a campaign in recent years, to encourage people not to mow their lawns in May. Doing away with the weekly cut for one month in spring and letting the grass grow to create a better grass habitat for invertebrates, insects. This is a lordable campaign to get us all to think about our gardens more as wildlife habitats and less as ornamental outdoor spaces for just our needs,

 A traditional striped cut lawn

A traditional striped cut lawn

One of the best wildlife habitats our gardens have to offer is grass and we can all do our bit to help create a variety of lawn habitats in very simple ways even in the smallest garden. Lots of people seem to assume the default best and  only thing to do is to either not cut your lawn at all or to rip it all out to create a wild flower meadow. The latter being really quite difficult to achieve.

 A flowering meadow

A flowering meadow

But this is not so, the best way to create as many different grass habits to suit as wider range of different insects as possible; is to have areas of grass, cut to different heights throughout the mowing season and going  into the autumn and winter months.

 Spring bulbs planted in a lawn

Spring bulbs planted in a lawn

From your neat family lawn, cut every 1 to 2 weeks, ready for ball games and family picnics, to areas of grass that have spring bulbs and grow long till June. To fuzzy fringes of grass that are cut every 4 to 6 weeks to the knee high meadow you strim in August. Creating different mowing regimes and different habitats.

 Daisies and dandelions in a lawn

Daisies and dandelions in a lawn

So even if you only have one lawn, can you decide on a sweeping shape at one end that you will only cut every 4 to 6 weeks on high, so it is always ‘daisy’ length. Allowing what traditionally were considered lawn ‘weeds’ to flower  makes valuable insect food and your sterile green lawn will now have a sweep of colour that will be buzzing with life,

 Bee on a dandelion

Bee on a dandelion

A round the edges of the lawn, or under the canopies of less dense trees, consider adding spring flowering bulbs, the same space can take you though from January with crocus and snowdrops, with Daffodils and Narcissi, from early to late spring. See the September 2018 blog about nationalising bulbs. Not only will this give you a slash of colour, it will be a valuable food source for insects, but the longer grass will also act as a different habitat. Either you can cut the grass at the end of June once the bulbs have died down and then continue with a 4 to 6 week cutting or you can let the area grow long and cut down in early autumn.

 Crocus late winter in a lawn

Crocus late winter in a lawn

If  you have grass garden paths, then cut them about every 3 weeks and on a higher cut than the     main lawn, as the wear will be intensified over the narrower area, making for a greener path and yet another different grass habitat.

 A long grass lawn

A long grass lawn

If you do have space in the more wild and woolly edges of your garden to let a strip of grass  grow up to meadow height, this will be an invaluable habitat. You don’t need to go to the effort and expense of making a ‘wildflower meadow’. Just allow your existing grass sword to grow. Other plants from cowpalsy to docks and nettles will appear, all are valuable food souses for a range of insects. The trick is to manage things, particularly if it is a small space as some of these plants can be very invasive and over 2 or 3 years you may find you have a monoculture. So weed out by pulling as needed. For larger areas mown paths will lead the way though your meadow so you can get up close to the insect life. At the end of August, beginning of September, Strim down the meadow, you may want to leave some woodier plants up like docks through the winter. Gather the grass into stripes for about 3 weeks. Remove most of the grass piles so the grass dose not die under nether, but leave the odd pile of grass staked through the winter months till mid February as an over wintering habitat for various insects. Remove late February to make way for the new season grass growth.

 Mown paths through a meadow.

Mown paths through a meadow.

I hope I have inspired you to look again at your lawn and gassy spaces in your garden and that you will decide to create different grass habitats, after all it means less mowing, so it is win win for you and the insects.


Spring Blossom

Orchard of Almond Blossom

Orchard of Almond Blossom

There is nothing that delights the heart more than spring blossom. The Japanese culture reveres the cherry blossom with the Sakura festival, where sitting under the flowering trees and ‘bathing in the blossom’ is a must, but there is far more than just cherries on offer. The spring is coloured with may different flowing trees, here are some to consider.

Malus hupehensis

Malus hupehensis

Malus hupehensis: A wonderful small to medium sized tree of 6 to 8m,with graceful ascending branches. With clusters of pink buds opening into white flowers in April. With delicate mid-green foliage and current sized fruits yellow blushed red in the autumn. Grows on most well draining soils. Full sun

Cercis siliquastrum

Cercis siliquastrum

Cercis silquastrum:’The Judas Tree’ is a great choice to break with the endless whites and pinks. With clusters of purple pea like flowers borne on the bare stems before the leaves in May. Grow, either as a multi-stemed shrub or single stem tree reaching 2.5 to 3m in height, with a rounded crown. The leaves are rounded and a subtle glaucous green. Good autumn colour. Full sun in well draining soil. Avoid heavy clay.

 Amelanchier lamarckii

Amelanchier lamarckii

Amelanchier lamarcki:  Grown as a mulit-stemed shrub or small tree with a loose doomed habit up to 6m tall. With clusters of small stared white flowers in April, followed by coppery early foliage which turns into a mid-green light headed canopy. Clusters of green blush red fruits follow with rust/orange autumn tints. Full Sun, humus rich soil that dose not dry out. Dose not like thin chalk.

 Prunus 'Accolade'

Prunus ‘Accolade’

Prunus ‘Accolade’: There are so many ornamental cherries to chose from, but this is a tried and trusted favourite. A spreading habit, very graceful tree reaching 5-6m tall. Masses of deep pink flower clusters in early April open to semi-double pendulous blush white flowers. Mid green leaves give way to good autumn colour. Full sun, good draining soil.

 Crataegus monogyna 'Stricta'

Crataegus monogyna ‘Stricta’

Cratagus monoggna ‘Stricata’: This is a fastigiate form of the common Hawthorne. With a upright habit, suitable for a small garden. The bare Thorney branches have clouds of delicate scented white flowers in April. Mid green foliage with small leaves follows. With clusters of deep red fruit. Most soils, but not water logged soil. Full sun or semi-shade.

 Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messei'

Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messei’

Magnolia x Loeberi ‘Leonard Messel’:  A wonderful Magnolia, a little slow but worth the wait. Growing to 3-4m and spread in size. Soft pink star shaped flowers are freely bourne in April. Grow as multi-stemed shrub or a small tree. Good humus rich soil will tolerate some chalk.

 Spring blossom in vases

Spring blossom in vases

I hope I have inspired you to look again at spring flowers trees and perhaps to not always choose the most oblivious. Happy planting.

Wall Tumblers !

 tumbling plants over a wall

tumbling plants over a wall

Most people think of climbers when it comes to walls, but a wall can be packed with planting possibilities including, a range of creeping and scrambling plants that are just made for the dry and harsh conditions of growing on or over a wall.  Here are some to consider

Arabis ferdinardii-cobungii 'Variegata'

Arabis ferdinardii-cobungii ‘Variegata’

Arabis ferdinandii cobungii ‘ Variegata’: This hardy vigorous alpine is a must for any wall, it makes dense carpets of low growing foliage and is smothered in tiny white flowers in late spring early summer that pack a visual punch.

 Aubrieta 'purple cascuade'

Aubrieta ‘purple cascuade’

Aubrieta ‘Purple Cascade’: This is the classic wall tumbler and is very vigorous. It will spill over walls creating dense mats of semi-evergreen leaves, with vibrant open purple flowers  from late spring to early summer. A must for any sunny wall.

 Campanular arvatica

Campanular arvatica

Campanula arvatica: An attractive low growing campanula, that seeds readily and will happily put it’s self in lots of niches and crannies of any wall. Low clumps that spill and crawl over any wall surface, with small soft mauve flowers early summer. It will also do well in part or denser shade.

Dianthus freynii

Dianthus freynii

Dianthus freynii: a delightful, low growing alpine pink with mats of evergreen grey foliage, that will creep over walls. Small pink single flowers are borne , mid summer.

 Geranium saguineum lancastriense

Geranium saguineum lancastriense

Geranium sanguineum lancastriense: A lovely delicate small leaved geranium that crawls along the surface, perfect to flop over the edge of the wall. Clear pink flowers produced intermittently from spring to late summer, as long as it is dead headed.

Hellianthemum nummularium 'Whisley Primrose'

Hellianthemum nummularium ‘Whisley Primrose’

Hellianthemum nummularium ‘Wisley Primrose’: This is a lovely rock rose, that produces a carpet of sliver evergreen foliage, that will cascade over any wall. Soft yellow flowers are produces in a splash of intense colour in mid summer.

 Wall timbering plants add an extra splash of spring colour!

Wall timbering plants add an extra splash of spring colour!

Top tips: Most the plants I have suggested, will need full sun. They will do very well in thin, free draining soil. After flowering gently shear off the dead flower heads. This is also a good time, to keep the shape of the plant in trim, particularity if there are dead or bare areas, in the mats the plants form.

I hope I have inspired you to look again, at the walls in your garden, and consider adding a splash of planting colour.

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.