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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.
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.
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.
With daylight increasing all the time this month, spring is definitely in the air, and if you don’t already have a tree in your garden for spring blossom, now is the time to remedy that. These are really the last couple of weeks for planting bare root trees before the growing season begins in earnest. If you can’t get to a specialist nursery, don’t worry, you’ll have loads to choose from at your local garden centre.
Let’s consider some of the earlier perennial plants that do so much to extend the growing season in the garden. As a garden designer, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve people’s enjoyment of their outdoor spaces, and even though the year’s still young, there are so many beautiful plants that can brighten up borders in early spring, so it’s well worth seeking them out.
March is the month when daffodils really come into their own and look wonderful planted en masse, especially around the base of mature trees. You can extend the daffodil season, however, by introducing different varieties so as to enjoy golden yellow or white blooms from February right through to April.
February is a good month to crack on with planting a new hedge if that’s on your to-do list for the coming year. You can of course buy hedging plants in pots and plant them at any time of year as long as the ground isn’t frozen, and if you only need a small number of plants that should work well.
One of the challenges facing a garden designer is how to make a garden look good all year round. The choice of plants for spring, summer and even autumn is endless, but when it comes to the colder months of the year you need to rely heavily on shrubs and ornamental grasses that will add colour and structure even in winter. Fortunately, there are loads of these to choose from and I relish the challenge of producing planting plans to suit different locations and soil types – always remembering that they need to look good and perform reliably. When winter flowers are needed, one of my favourite plants to design with is the hellebore or Lenten Rose.
Regular readers of Gardenwise will know that I’m firm believer in making your garden work all year round and in enjoying it for twelve months of the year. It’s very tempting as the days grow shorter and colder to retreat inside and forget all about the garden until spring rolls around. Whether we like it or not though, the garden’s still there and still visible from inside all winter long, even if we’re not spending much time outside. A little time and effort now will help keep things looking well throughout winter and beyond and ensure that the garden is ready to spring into growth next year, ideally without too much winter weather damage.
With November approaching, the bare root season is about to begin, so it’s time to think about how you can make the most of this if you’re planning any changes to the garden. First though, it might be helpful to explain what exactly bare root means for those not in the know as these terms can be confusing if you’re not of a horticultural bent!