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.

 Concrete rope edging

Concrete rope 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.

 large pebbles for edging

large pebbles for edging

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

A whole window ceil of scented Hyacinthus

A whole window ceil of scented Hyacinthus

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

Narcissi paper white omri

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!

Terrific Topiary

 

A herd of unicorns, may be considered to be topiary madness.

Topiary- is the horticultural practise of training perennial plants, by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs, and sub-shrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes, whether geometric or fanciful. The term also refers to plants which have been shaped in this way. As an art form it is a type of living sculpture.  The word Topiary, derives from the Latin word for an ornamental landscape gardener, topiarus, a creator of topia.” Wikipedia .

 clipping topiary

clipping topiary

Topiary is an ancient art from the Romans in Europe to the Parterre gardens of the 1600’s to the Eastern art of cloud pruning, a desire to clip, and train evergreen plants into unnatural shapes has always been the art of an accomplished gardener. Good  topiary can add strong structure to your garden particularly in the winter months and if you have the patience and skill a great amount of creative fun as well. Here are some suggested shrubs that are tried and tested as good topiary subjects.

Buxus semperrirens, clipped as spirals

Buxus sempervirens: Box, the classic topiary shrub, although now sadly fraught with possible problems ( see below)  This dense small leafed shrub is ideal for close clipping, and therefore for being trained into intricate shapes. Slow growing and will grow on poor shallow soils, it does not like being too wet. Grows in sun or part shade.

 Lourus nobillis (cornes)

Lourus nobillis (cornes)

Laurus nobillis; Bay can become a very large tee, but is also happy being clipped, it can be a little tender in cold areas, so clip no latter than August, so new growth can harden before the winter. Moderately fast growing, with glossy dark leaves, it clips well into geometric shapes. It has the added advantage of being used in a lot of Italian cooking. It will grow in poor soils and in full sun and even into shade.

 clipped myrtus balls

clipped myrtus balls

Myrtus communis terentina: a compact Myrtle, with dense mid green growth, the small leaves make it ideal for topiary. It can be tender so do not clip after late July. Small white flowers in mid summer and aromatic foliage.

 Taxus baccata-yew, clipped squares.

Taxus baccata-yew, clipped squares.

Taxus baccata: the mighty yew, with dark green needles and it’s ability to cope well in shade, makes a good topiary subject. It will cope even on chalky soils but it does not like to dry out, But equally it will not cope with water logging. It is not as slow as people think so with its small leaves it is good for the most artful topiary.

Ligustrum clipped into a peacock

Ligustrum clipped into a peacock

Ligustrum ovalifolium: the humble privet, can be elevated to a whole new level when used for topiary. It has many advantages, being small leaved it can be easily chipped into animal shapes and it is quick growing, meaning it trains at speed up wire models, so perfect for the topiary enthusiast  who is keen to have a Noah’s ark of animals.

 Varigated holly topiary lolly pop trees.

Varigated holly topiary lolly pop trees.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Marginate’: with mid sized holly leaves with creamy edged variegation and a female form with berries, this makes a topiary shrub with added benefits. Clips well into cones, pyramids, boxes and balls.

 wire topiary model

wire topiary model

Tip: you need good sharp shears and if you are trimming box have a bucket of week disinfectant to hand to keep dipping into, to try to prevent, both box tree caterpillars and infection of box tree blight. Which are now both common in South-East Britain, it may be a case of thinking of using one of the other shrubs I have suggested, as both of these  horrors are now a real problem. Also the thing about maintaining good shapes in Topiary is trimming little and often to keep that crisp line. Also if you are going adventurous and thinking of a peacock or a more humble spiral, then a good frame work model, in chicken wire can be invaluable at helping you train new growth but also a guide to clipping your growing topiary.

 Topiary in pots

Topiary in pots

 

 Cloud pruning Topiary on an impressive scale.

Cloud pruning Topiary on an impressive scale.

Good Luck and let your imagination go wild!

Wall Shrubs-An added Dimension.

 Chaenomeles covering a wall.

Chaenomeles covering a wall.

Growing shrubs up walls, often allows you to grow slightly more tender varieties and allows you to enjoy the full structure of the plant even if it is deciduous, as the wall will still be clothed in branches. It also means that you have the joy of a ‘climber’ but with out the rampantness of climbing plants. So wall shrubs work well for a more compacted space. Here are a few to consider.

 

 Chaenomeles japonica 'Ma Dame Butterfly'

Chaenomeles japonica ‘Ma Dame Butterfly’

Cheanomeles japonica ‘Madam Butterfly’: A wonderful deciduous wall shrub. Thorny bare branches produce orange flower buds giving way to large open peach flowers with golden stamens in February- March. The flowers are followed by yellow ornamental ‘quinces’ in autumn.  Grows in most soils in sun of partial shade. Do not allow to dry out.

 

 Cotoneaster horizontalis

Cotoneaster horizontalis

Cotonester horizontalis: This is a stunning wall shrub and it is it’s growing habit that is the star. It’s branches fan out and each has a herring-bone pattern of twigs, making it a wonderful addition to the winter garden. It has small dark green leaves and tiny white flowers in spring, the leaves go a rich red in autumn and it has tiny round dark red berries. Grows nearly anywhere and will even cope with very dry poor soils. Part shade to full sun.

 Cytisus battandieri

Cytisus battandieri

Cytisus battandieri: Okay this shrub ticks the box of a bit more unusual. Nicknamed the ‘Pineapple broom’ after it’s unusual flowers, which are dense racemes of golden yellow flowers which do indeed look fairly pineapple like, it also smells of pineapples. It trains into a good wall shrub, with soft sliver foliage and in warmer climes is semi-evergreen.

 Ceanothus x delileanus 'gloire de versailles'

Ceanothus x delileanus ‘gloire de versailles’

Ceanothus x delileannus ‘Gloire de versailles’: makes a great wall shrub as it can have rather a lax habit, so it is easily trained . A deciduous ceanothus with mid green foliage. Freely producing large racemes of  powder blue flowers, from mid summer up to the first frosts. Watch for drying out and plant in full sun.

 Fremontodendron 'California Glory'

Fremontodendron ‘California Glory’

Fremontodenddron ‘California Glory’: A large very vigorous evergreen wall shrub, with lobbed downy green sliver leaves. Large yellow cup flowers during the summer months. Most soils and grow in full sun. Warning this plant can cause skin and eye irritation.

 Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’: A large evergreen shrub with dark green crinkly leaves with a silvery underside. Producing long grey catkins during February and March. A superb coastal plant. Partial shade.

 Ceantohus over a wall.

Ceanothus over a wall.

Tips: Wall shrubs differ from climbers, in the fact that they have no means of supporting themselves and as they make woody growth they can be heavy. So a few wires and a flimsy trellis will not cut it. You need to put in a good solid structure of either very close and strong horizontal wires or a purpose made trellis made out of something as sturdy as roofing battens. It is very important to get the wall structure up before planting. So you can train your wall shrub from the start. Also because wall shrubs create a good strong structure in themselves, they are perfect to grow twinning climbers up, like clematis etc, but make sure you choose a planting partner, whose size and vigour fit in with the size and growth of the host wall shrub.

 Clematis and Chaenomeles on a wall

Clematis and Chaenomeles on a wall

I hope you now feel inspired to look again at wall shrubs and perhaps plant something a little more unusual. If you want help with planning new planting in your garden then do give me Emily a ring 01273 470753. I would be delighted to discuss your planting project and any aspects of garden design with you.

A summer visit to 3 very different gardens that we have landscaped.

 

Encouraging Birds into the garden was important.

Encouraging Birds into the garden was important.

 

It is always good to go back and see the gardens you have designed, landscaped and planted a few years after the work has finished, to see how it is all settling in.

 

A journey down the garden

A journey down the garden

 

The first garden was designed for a couple who had a mature garden and were very knowledgeable and keen gardens, but as they got older they needed a garden which was easier to maintain. So the planting beds were reduced in size and planted with dense planting with all year round interest that would be easy to look after.

 

A wide sweeping path leads to the bench at the bottom of the garden

A wide sweeping path leads to the bench at the bottom of the garden

 

Also the narrow gravel path was replaced with a wide sweeping paved path, which was easy to walk on and less work to look after. A wide bench was placed at the end of the path, so views down the garden could be enjoyed. There was an enthuses on using plants to attach the wildlife particularly birds, So a row of Crab- Apple trees was planted, so not only could the blossom be enjoyed in the spring but also the birds could feast on the fruit in the Autumn. Bold and vibrant colours were chosen in the planting to cheer the sole at all times of the year.

 

The second gardens I went back to see were a front and back garden in East Grinstead. The back garden has strong lines of hard landscape and bold blocks of planting, giving it a crisp modern feel, with stunning warm Indian sand stone, and  the walls painted a soft yellow orca  and caped with the same warm stone.

 

The sunken hot tub garden, the yew hedges are still to reach their mature height.

The sunken garden with hot tub, the yew hedges are still to reach their mature height.

 

The sunken hot tub garden is screened from the main garden and the side of the house by Yew hedges, to aid privacy. The hedges have to still reach their mature height but are doing well after only a couple of years.

 

Views across the main dinning terrace

Views across the main dinning terrace

 

The planting round the main dinning terrace is in bold and dramatic blocks and squares and is beginning to fill nicely, the corners of the beds are picked out by low lighters, that give a gentle light pool and atmospheric soft light to lead you round the night garden.

 

 The front garden and sweeping new drive edged by generous planting

The front garden and sweeping new drive edged by generous planting

 

The front garden, needed a new larger drive to accommodate the new budding drivers and their first cars. So a larger circular drive was created, as there would be quite a bit of turning on the drive, gravel would not be suitable so instead a soft coloured gravel mix was used in a resin bonded surface. The colour scheme was pulled through from the back garden with the same orca walls and soft yellows and corals and purples for the planting. Clipped mounds of box and low Ballard lights, show the edge of the drive. A dense textured planting edges the drive set below the branches of groups of Crab-Apple Trees which are settling in well and making good growth. The trees give height and scale to the scheme. The front garden has a good balance between the needs for parking and generous planting to soften the hard structure and link the house to the garden. A wide path sweeps through the planting to reach the side gate into the back garden.

 

The third garden I went to see, was again landscaped only a couple of years ago and sits almost on the Downs on a very thin chalk soil. The new wooden extension of the house steps out into the mature shrubby of the garden which remained. The clients wanted a garden that was easy to look after and fitted with the down

Planting beds by the house give way to the informal lower garden

Planting beds by the house give way to the informal lower garden

land views beyond. So the design was to have a very light touch. A more formal upper garden was created round the new terrace just below the large windows of the extension adding to the existing mature shrubby. With minimal planting beds with soft country style planting

 

 An informal garden, views back to the house from the long grass meadow.

An informal garden, views back to the house from the long grass meadow.

 

The lower garden was to be much more informal, with few new trees and to become a meadow. As the garden is close to the Downs and the soil very poor it was decide to use a normal grass turf and allow the down land plants to seed and populate it over time, so that wild thyme, marjoram, ox-eye daisies, to name but a few would follow, which is beginning to happen.

 

 A newly planted Birch draws the eye to the end of the garden and the Downs beyond, in front is set the rustic oak pergola, so veiws

A newly planted Birch draws the eye to the end of the garden and the Downs beyond, in front is set the rustic oak pergola, so views can be enjoyed back up the garden.

 

Mown paths cut through the grass meadow leading to the central bird bath and on down to the rustic pergola at the end of the garden.

The meadow is under planted with naturalising narcissi,  to give early spring colour before the grasses and invading wildflowers get going latter in the year. The meadow is cut in August and the cuttings cleared to keep the lawn poor and encourage the next batch of invading wildflowers to take hold.

The garden is still very young but is beginning to settle down well and is much enjoyed by the new and keen novice gardeners who own it.

I hope you continue to enjoy your own gardens as Summer unfolds.

If you want to transform your garden into a new and wonderful space, then do give me Emily a ring 01273 470753

Quinces and Pears- The Noble Fruit

An orchard of pear trees

An orchard of pear trees

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

 

 Pear Buerre Hardy

Pear Buerre Hardy

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

 

Quince Meech's Prolific

Quince Meech’s Prolific

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

 

 Pear Concorde

Pear Concorde

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

 

 Quince Vrunja (Bereczchi)

Quince Vrunja (Bereczchi)

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

 

 Pear Doyenne du Comice

Pear Doyenne du Comice

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

 

 Pear William Bon Chetien

Pear William Bon Chetien

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

 

 Pear Shinseiki

Pear Shinseiki

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

 picking pears

picking pears

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

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

 Pears and quinces, making it to the table

Pears and quinces, making it to the table

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

 

 Quince jam in the making

Quince jam in the making

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

 Pear pie

Pear pie

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

Enjoy!

 

Heroic Hydrangeas

 Stunning Hydrangeas, make great cut flowers

Stunning Hydrangeas, make great cut flowers

I say Heroic hydrangeas, as they are often the wall paper at the back of a large boarder or thought of as lining the drives of stately homes, but these shrubs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, lace-cap or mop heads and some in between and a variety of colours that change with age and even are beautiful as dried flowers.

 Stunning Hydrangeas, make great cut flowers

Stunning Hydrangeas, make great cut flowers

Of course over the years there has been a fashion for fiddling about with the soil pH to produce blooms of deep blue on an acid soil, a pH of less than 7 ( the lower the deeper the blue) less acidic and it heads towards purple. Pink and into deeper pink on alkaline soils with a pH  above 7.  Personally I think the joy is letting your Hydrangeas just colour with what your soil is and see how they change in  different planting potions, but of course if you have picked a “ Blue” variety and you are on natural to alkaline soil, the chance it it will not be a deep  blue at all, so don’t be disappointed. They need a good humus rich damp soil, in dappled shade, but will cope with full sun. flowering from July to the end of September.

So baring all of the above in mind, here is a selection to consider.

 Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’: This has been the hydrangea of the moment or the last 7 to 10 years at least as the ‘new’ designer fashionable one that started to pop up at Chelsea in main avenue gardens and it is certainly a show stopper. A medium sized shrub with a floppy open habit, of large white to flushed green flowers up to 30cm across freely produced from July to September.

 Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora'

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ 

 H. paniculata ‘Grandiflora’: A large shrub, with a mass of panicle shaped flowers of sterile florets appear in August and become a deep pink towards Autumn.

 Hydrangea macrophlla 'Ami Pasquier'

Hydrangea macrophlla ‘Ami Pasquier’

H.macrophlla ‘Ami Pasquier’ : a small to medium sized shrub with a good compact habit, a good mop-head variety with deep red florets.

 

 Hydrangea macrophlla 'Blauer Prinz'

Hydrangea macrophlla ‘Blauer Prinz’  

H.  macrophlla ‘Blaucer Prinz’: A medium sized shrub. A good mop-head variety, with heads that are shades of pink into deeper red on alkaline soils and shades of purple into deep blue on acid soils.

 

 Hydrangea macrophlla 'Lanarth White'

Hydrangea macrophlla ‘Lanarth White’

H. macrophlla ‘Lanarth White’: A small to medium sized shrub with a neat compact habit, one of the best lace-cap varieties. It produces large flattened heads, with central flowers which are pink on alkaline soils and blue on acid soils , surrounded by white florets.

 

 Hydrangea macrophlla 'Madama Emile Mouillere'

Hydrangea macrophlla ‘Madama Emile Mouillere’

H. macrophlla ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’: a medium sized shrub with large mop head flowers of white florets with a pink or blue centre depending on soil pH. With serrated sepals.

 Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

H. quercifolia: This unusual hydrangea has, leathery deeply lobed leaves, oak like in shape, with a white underneath that turn a blistering coppery red in the autumn. It produced large creamy white shaggy panicle s of flowers in August. It is a medium sized shrub.

 

 A mass of Hydrangeas.

A mass of Hydrangeas.

I hope I have made you think again about these shrubs that fell out of fashion and were considered some what Victorian, they are beginning to be planted more widely and have must to offer, in fact what is not to like about Hydrangeas.

 

 

 

 

Native Pond Plants- For A Wildlife Pond

A large pond with native planting

A large pond with native planting

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

 

Starting with shallow water on the margins of the pond.

Mentha quatica

Mentha quatica

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

 Caltha palustris

Caltha palustris

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

 Iris pseudacorus

Iris pseudacorus

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

 

Medium depth of water from  100 to  150mm deep.

Butomus umbellatus

Butomus umbellatus

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

 Menyanthes trifoliata

Menyanthes trifoliata

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

 

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

 Scirpus lacutris

Scirpus lacutris

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

 Sagittaria trifoliata

Sagittaria trifoliata

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

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

 Nyhoides Alba

Nyhoides Alba

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

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

 Potamegeton crispns

Potamegeton crispns

Potamegeton Crispns, curled pond weed

 Ranunculus aquatilis

Ranunculus aquatilis

Ranunculus aquatilis, common water crow foot

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

 Planting pond plants in an aquatic planting basket

Planting pond plants in an aquatic planting basket

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

 A wildlife Pond created by Arcadia Garden Design.

A wildlife Pond created by Arcadia Garden Design.

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

 

 

 

Planting on thin Chalk Soils

 

 

Planting thieving on poor soils.

Planting thieving on poor soils.

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

 Thymus vulgaris 'Sliver Posie'

Thymus vulgaris ‘Sliver Posie’

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

 Iris 'Brathwaite'

Iris ‘Brathwaite’

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

 Lavendula angustifolia 'Munstead'

Lavendula angustifolia ‘Munstead’

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

Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens'

Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’

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

 Helianthemum nummularium 'Wisley Primrose'

Helianthemum nummularium ‘Wisley Primrose’

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

Ulex europaeus 'Flore Pleno'

Ulex europaeus ‘Flore Pleno’

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

A garden of planting for poor soils.

A garden of planting for poor soils.

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

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

Happy Gardening!

 

 

Delightful Daphnes

Delightful Daphnes in mixed planting

Delightful Daphnes in mixed planting

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

 D. bholua'Gurkha'

D. bholua’Gurkha’

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

 D. x 'bankwodii'

D. x ‘bankwodii’

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

D.creorum 'Variegata'

D.creorum ‘Variegata’

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

 D. collina 'neapolitana'

D. collina ‘neapolitana’

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

 D. mezereum

D. mezereum

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

 

 D. odora 'Aureomarginata'

D. odora ‘Aureomarginata’

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

 

Bringing Daphnes indoors, to enjoy the scent.

Bringing Daphnes indoors, to enjoy the scent.

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

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

 

The Shady Courtyard

 A Shady courtyard garden

A Shady courtyard garden

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

 Hydrangea anomala petiolaris

Hydrangea anomala petiolaris

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

 Buxus sempervirens 'Aureovariegata'

Buxus sempervirens ‘Aureovariegata’

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

Vinca minor 'Illumination'

Vinca minor ‘Illumination’

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

 Hellaborus 'Nigra'

Hellaborus ‘Nigra’

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

 Carex 'Evergold'

Carex ‘Evergold’

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

 Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

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

 A hansom shady courtyard seating area.

A hansom shady courtyard seating area.

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

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

Conifers: Little and Large

 Giant church yard yew tree.

Giant church yard yew tree.

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

Pinus mugo pumillio

Pinus mugo pumillio

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

 Chamaecyparis lawsoniana pygmaea argentea'

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana pygmaea argentea’

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

 Juniperus communis 'Depressa Aurea'

Juniperus communis ‘Depressa Aurea’

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

Cupreeus macrocarpa 'Goldcrest'

Cupreeus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’

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

 Picea pungens 'Koster'

Picea pungens ‘Koster’

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

 Taxus baccata 'Fastigata'

Taxus baccata ‘Fastigata’

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

Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca'

Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’

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

 Conifers adding structure to a mixed planting.

Conifers adding structure to a mixed planting.

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

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

 Conifers adding green texture to a mixed border

Conifers adding green texture to a mixed border

 

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