Use me!

Mon, Aug 13, 2018

I’ve recently acquired one of those cute little bamboo coffee cups that you can re-use over and over again, and at the end of its life it composts down, apart from the rubber lid. It’s much nicer to drink from than a plastic or metal re-usable container or indeed the single use paper cups it’s intended to replace. It’s getting a lot of use, as I’m on the road a lot visiting clients’ gardens and after a couple of hours on site it’s safer for all concerned if I get my caffeine hit. It made me think just how many of the single use cups I used to get through – many of us have only recently realised that these can’t be recycled because of the thin inner layer of plastic.

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At last... some rain!

Tue, Jul 31, 2018

Although it was lovely to bask in the glorious and seemingly endless sun shine of early summer this year, the rain that we’ve had was well overdue and now we need more of it! The lawns are not in the best shape at the moment, the grass has been dormant for weeks with no noticeable growth and more drought resistant weeds have had free reign to flourish and to spread.

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Midsummer Blues

Mon, Jul 23, 2018

Most of us need more blue in our gardens. This mayseem an odd thing to say but I suspect if you bear this in mind the next time you’re surveying your own garden or indeed someone else's, you might be inclined to agree with me. Pinks and reds, yellows and oranges are inclined to dominate for much of the year and including enough blue to keep a good visual balance can be a challenge. There was a fashion a few years ago for painting anything that didn’t grow in the garden blue, from fences to sheds to benches, and in fact I took it up enthusiastically myself. It can get a little jarring in winter though, so you’re probably better off to stick to subtle greens and neutrals for the furniture and fencing and let the plants add the colour.

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The Wildflower Meadow

Mon, Jul 16, 2018

A flower – speckled meadow is a beautiful sight and I’m often asked to include one in garden designs. I’m always happy to oblige, for a number of reasons.

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Desperate for drink

Tue, Jul 10, 2018

With a nationwide hosepipe ban recently announced, we need to be very selective about how and when we use water in the garden. Even if it rains soon, it will take weeks if not months for reservoir levels to get back to normal and at the time of writing the ban is expected to be in place until at least the end of July. Right now gardens have to contend with unprecedentedly high temperatures, drying winds and plants and trees in full leaf – all things that make them need water more than ever. Garden lovers have difficult decisions to make – which areas need water the most - as there simply isn’t enough to go around. You may be able to eke out supplies by re-using “grey” water, and here are a few tips to help you use any water to best advantage:

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We’re all going on a summer holiday

Tue, Jul 03, 2018

As a weather-obsessed nation we’ve certainly got lots to talk about this year, but personally, I feel sorry for the plants. Our gardens have had to contend with the greatest snowfall in living memory, and now pretty much sub – Saharan conditions, all within the space of three months. If your lawn’s going brown, don’t worry – when the rain comes, as it surely will, the grass will recover and green up fairly quickly.

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You Can’t Beat a Bench

Mon, Jun 25, 2018

Well, you can’t, in my opinion. Bench seating is one of the most versatile ways to rest your weary bones in the garden and every garden, no matter how small, has room for at least one.

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Furnishing the Outdoor Room

Mon, Jun 18, 2018

As the evenings lengthen towards the summer solstice I hope you have been able to enjoy some time outside in the garden. This is the time of year when your garden furniture comes into its own so if yours is tired or past its best it might be time to think about investing in some new pieces. As a firm believer in the benefits of sitting down and enjoying the garden as much as possible, I look upon outdoor furniture as one of the most valuable investments in your garden, and it’s often overlooked in favour of hard landscaping and plants when planning your space. This is why I always include advice on the best furniture as an integral part of a garden design.

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It’s not too late for the Chelsea Chop

Tue, Jun 12, 2018

The Chelsea Chop – it sounds like a rather edgy haircut, doesn’t it? In fact the term refers to the cutting back of flowering perennials in early summer in order to slow down flowering and extend the season until later in the year.

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Roses – a Who’s Who

Tue, Jun 05, 2018

If you’re tempted to give roses a try after reading last week’s Gardenwise, or indeed to expand your collection if you’re already a rose grower, it might be useful to talk about the different kinds of rose plant you’ll find available if you visit your local garden centre. I really do believe that there’s a rose for every garden and would hate to be without them. One of my favourite things in summer is to cut a few blooms for the house, often plonking them informally into a jam jar or drinking glass and leaving them where I can inhale their heavenly scent.

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Greenfly? Bring it on…..

Tue, May 29, 2018

My garden design clients are often nervous about growing roses in their gardens as there’s a perception that they take a lot of maintenance and “you have to spray them a lot”. This is really not so. Certainly if you want a really, really low maintenance garden, there’s a host of other shrubs you can use to give you structure, colour and interest all year round. To get the best from roses, an occasional prune and feed does make a difference – although those are easier to do than you might think.

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Let there be Colour…….

Mon, May 21, 2018

A visit to your local garden centre at this time of year is a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon – or indeed any other day of the week, when you may find it less crowded! You will be spoiled for choice as this is when the selection of summer bedding plants is at its very best, and if you buy your plants at a garden centre rather than a supermarket, you will find qualified staff on hand to help and advise you, so you can choose the plants that suit your needs best and get advice on how to plant and care for them too.

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Viva la Diva!

Tue, May 15, 2018

As I write the tulips are making a wonderful show in the garden and every time I look out the window they lift the spirits. They have to be one of my favourite flowers, both for growing and cutting and I could never have too many. Which is just as well, as in our climate they are the least reliable of spring bulbs – hence the diva reputation. For every dozen you plant, eleven or twelve will perform beautifully the following spring, but in the year after that you would be lucky if two or three bother to show up.

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Weed wars

Mon, Apr 30, 2018

How can you tell when spring has arrived? Easy – you will know when the weeds start growing! As spring has been unusually late this year, growth has been very slow to start, but everyone is quickly making up for lost time. If you can get on top of weeds in the garden around now, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy later on.

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In Praise of Muck

Tue, Apr 24, 2018

“Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow”. – Jerry Herman, “Hello Dolly”

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Onwards and upwards

Tue, Apr 17, 2018

If you’re thinking of growing sweet peas or indeed any climbing plants in the border you’re going to need some kind of structure to support the plants as they grow. There are lots to choose from and the supports themselves can make a visual statement in the garden and contribute to the overall look and feel of the space.

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Plant out Sweet Peas for Summer perfume

Mon, Apr 09, 2018

Planting out sweet peas is one of my favourite spring tasks in the garden and very easy to do. If you have sown your sweet peas from seed under cover, you can usually plant them outside from around mid-April onwards depending on the weather. Do take care this year though as spring has been very late to arrive and temperatures this month can be freezing or very warm, so err on the side of caution – they will quickly make up for lost time so wait a week or two if you’re in doubt. Sowing from seed gives you the best choice of varieties, but good garden centres will have young plants in pots or trays that you can also plant out now.

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Climbing plants for boundaries

Tue, Apr 03, 2018

As we talked about garden boundary options last week, you might like to hear about some climbing plants that can be used to good effect around the perimeters of the garden. A word of warning first though – when I’m called in to design garden plans, clients often assume that planting climbers is a good way to disguise an unattractive boundary. It can work, but you have to be careful, as you could end up drawing attention to the very feature you’re anxious to conceal.

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Setting Boundaries

Mon, Mar 26, 2018

Whatever size your garden is, there will be some sort of boundary separating it from the world outside and the boundary has an important role to play in a number of ways. In towns and cities we need to enclose our own space and create a private area outside our homes for our own personal use, and in more rural areas with larger gardens the boundaries may be further away from the house itself, but still have an important role to play in the design of the garden.

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It’s only natural

Tue, Mar 20, 2018

When thinking of spring flowers it’s often bulbs that come to mind and most of us tend to plant them in borders in any space that’s available. This can work very well and planting them like this adds colour and interest to otherwise brown and green borders early in the year. But there is another way to make them work for you, and that’s to naturalise them in grass.

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