Soft and Gentle

Mon, Sep 17, 2018

Today I thought we might look at some soft, gentle colours for planting schemes. Softer colours make for a restful scheme, but even if you’re fond of brights and like to have pops of vivid colour in the garden, paler pastel shades are a good way to offset these, and a good way to link groups of more vivid colours.

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Pretty Little Things

Mon, Sep 10, 2018

I know it feels as if summer is only just over and there’s still a lot of this year left to go, but it’s already time to be thinking about next year and planning for the early months of 2019. There’s something special about the very earliest of spring bulbs. After a brown and grey winter, with little colour apart from green, it gives me a great sense of hope to see tiny shoots poking their tips out from the cold earth, ready to burst into blooms of glorious colour. Although they’re tiny, they’re not deterred by cold, frost and rain, they just carry on regardless, and this is one of the reasons why I love them.

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Thinking Big

Mon, Sep 03, 2018

Let’s think about scale today. I wonder if you’ve considered scale in the garden, at least in terms of plants? If not, it’s worth considering, as playing with different sizes can add an extra dimension to the space. As a garden designer, I’m always thinking of proportions – the layout of a garden on the ground has to be worked out until it’s just right before moving on to planting, and the proportions of all the different elements have to work, not just for the property to which the garden belongs, but for the human beings who will be using and enjoying it.

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Throwing Shapes or in Good Form?

Tue, Aug 28, 2018

Have you ever thought about shapes in the garden, or to be more exact, in the planted areas? It’s worth thinking about because a well-planned garden will include a variety of plant shapes to achieve the most visually pleasing look. It can be tempting as a new gardener to focus only on the flowering potential of your new best friends, and I understand this completely, having once been a rookie myself. It’s so tempting to wander through a garden centre and be seduced by the colour, texture and fragrance of blooms, and to fill up your garden with attractive flowers.

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I’ve Got a Crush on You?

Tue, Aug 21, 2018

I love aromatic plants. What’s an aromatic plant? Well, I think of it as a plant you have to do something to in order for it to release its aroma. So you have to crush the leaves or stems or possibly even tread on it, in order to appreciate its unique fragrance. This is in contrast to scented plants, usually with scented flowers – roses, jasmine or sweet peas for instance – that release their scent into the air without any input from humans. But an aromatic plant makes you work that little bit harder – you have to get up close and personal and engage with the plant in order to appreciate the scent it has to offer, unless you’re in a very sunny climate in which case the sun will draw the aromatic oils from the plant.

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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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