Gardenwise | Please welcome….AGM Award Winners

Tue, May 04, 2021

This week, I thought we might look at some perennials that hold the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, just in time for summer. AGM holders, you might remember from last week’s column, are tested thoroughly by the RHS before the gong is bestowed upon them, so when shelling out for these plants you can be sure that you are giving your garden the best possible chance of reliable, healthy blooms.

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Gardenwise | And the Award goes to……….

Tue, Apr 27, 2021

When browsing in a garden centre or on a nursery website, have you ever seen a little cup or trophy symbol attached to a plant and wondered what it meant? It’s the AGM or Award of Garden Merit, given by the Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading authority on all things horticultural, to plants that provide outstanding performance.

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Gardenwise | Black or White? It’s a thorny issue………..

Mon, Apr 19, 2021

On a country walk today the hedgerows are frothy with the prettiest of white blossom – up close it’s like miniature cherry blossom, and in fact it shares the same genus as cherry, Prunus. It’s our native Prunus Spinosa, or blackthorn, whose wood was traditionally used to make shillelaghs. I remember miniature versions of these varnished and sold as souvenirs to spendy tourists, but the shillelagh, Google tells me, was in former times used to settle disputes ‘in a gentlemanly manner’, and modern students of self defence practice its use as a martial art. Which probably says a lot about where we are as a nation when you think about it. But I digress.

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Gardenwise | Colour Me Beautiful – paint in the garden

Mon, Apr 12, 2021

I often think paint colour is one of the most underused elements in a garden and it’s something I always address when I’m producing garden plans for my clients. Paint can make such a difference to the feel of a space, making it feel bigger, smarter and pulled together, but can also be used to great effect on individual features like furniture to transform it.

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Gardenwise | Upwardly Mobile – Spring Flowering Climbers

Tue, Apr 06, 2021

I love all of the signs of spring, but one of my absolute favourites is the new growth of climbing plants. The early shoots of clematis, honeysuckle and climbing roses have a way of gladdening the heart – I want to cheer them on as they climb, outwards and upwards, to embrace the new season. Climbers that flower in spring are especially valuable as they distract the eye from still-bare borders and from the messy brown foliage of bulbs that have just finished flowering.

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Gardenwise | Sitting Comfortably Whatever the Weather

Mon, Mar 29, 2021

If word on the grapevine is anything to go by, garden furniture has been eagerly sought after since the Christmas decorations were packed away. Last year taught us that we definitely need outdoor spaces to meet family and friends in, and since that’s likely to continue, everyone’s looking to make them more comfortable.

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Gardenwise | Pretty little things – plants for woodland gardens

Wed, Mar 24, 2021

Some of the prettiest, most dainty flowering plants belong in the woodland category – think of native bluebells for instance – spectacular as carpets stretching underneath trees, but individually exquisite when viewed close up. Our native bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, needs lots of space to thrive and doesn’t particularly work well with other plants – so is perhaps best kept for larger gardens. The cultivated or Spanish bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica, should be used with caution – a sturdier, less elegant bluebell, it’s invasive and inclined to hybridise with the more delicate natives so I would avoid it.

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Gardenwise | Curl up this Winter with a Garden Classic

Tue, Dec 08, 2020

When I’m not at the drawing board you will find me with my head stuck in a book. If it’s remotely fine and I have time, I’ll be in the garden with a book and a beverage, and surely wood burning stoves were invented for curling up beside in winter with a volume or three?

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Gardenwise | Gifts for Garden Lovers

Mon, Nov 30, 2020

Good news this week if you’re wondering what to buy for the gardener in your life this Christmas– there are lots of lovely things available locally that would be not just useful but very welcome, and with stores opening up you can choose to visit or shop online.

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Gardenwise | Seasonal scents to lift the spirits

Mon, Nov 23, 2020

Anything that makes the garden more inviting in winter has to be a good thing, am I right? So this week I thought we might look at plants with attractive scents for winter – easily overlooked, but worth exploring if you believe, as I do, that a garden should work hard for you for twelve months of the year. Most of the favourites on my list are winter flowering shrubs that will sit quietly in the wings for months until it’s their time to shine – so placing of them needs careful thought. If possible, you want them near the front door, or near a path where you can enjoy the fragrance as you pass – but you might want to combine them with something more decorative for the rest of the year.

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Gardenwise | Winter Stars Get Ready for Their Close-Up

Mon, Nov 16, 2020

This week it feels as though deciduous garden plants are really getting serious about bedtime. The wind and rain of the last few days have brought leaves cascading down, and those still clinging on have turned yellow overnight, as though to signal their intentions. It’s an untidy season, which is probably one of the reasons I don’t like it very much – but it was still good to get outside for an hour at the weekend to begin the clean-up. You need to keep moving outside at this time of year to keep the cold at bay, so I gathered several buckets of fallen leaves to add to the leaf mould pile beside the shed.

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Gardenwise | What’s in A Name – Feeling Sorry for a Tulip...

Wed, Nov 11, 2020

You might remember me mentioning last week that I’d been ordering tulips, so just to remind you, you still have several weeks to plant the bulbs if you haven’t already. As they originate in the Middle East (not in Holland – the Dutch are just brilliant at growing and breeding them), they really need baking heat in summer, after the flower and foliage has yellowed and died down, in order to flower the following year. (Don’t we all.) This not always being forthcoming in Northern Europe, for every dozen you plant you could be lucky if two or three bother to show up in year two. That said, nothing else makes such a colourful display in late spring – so if you’re thinking of indulging, here are a few suggestions.

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Gardenwise | Carried away by a Catalogue

Mon, Nov 02, 2020

It’s time to plant the tulips – at least it will be once they arrive. An email informs me that my bulb order has been shipped, but in these strange times who knows what adventures they will have before they arrive safely at my door?

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Gardenwise | Finding hope in Falling Leaves

Wed, Oct 28, 2020

As far as I can make out we’ve only had one bank holiday since New Year’s Day without a lockdown in place. History will judge whether the damage caused was justified, but for now one thing at least is certain: damage is being done. This week I’d like to encourage you, if you possibly can, to let nature help you undo at least some of that damage; or if that’s not possible, to help you cope with it and give you hope for the future.

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Gardenwise | Pots of Cheer for Darker Days

Wed, Oct 21, 2020

It’s been a particularly lovely autumn and just now the leaf colour on the trees is a sight to behold. The sunny weather and blue skies we’ve been enjoying help to make the landscape – and the garden – sing with colour. But thoughts are turning now to the weeks and months ahead- how can we keep the garden looking cheerful over winter, until the spring bulbs arrive?

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Gardenwise | Sorbus – They’re Super!

Wed, Oct 14, 2020

I’m feeling a lot of love for Sorbus at the moment – they are such a super little tree. Our native Sorbus aucuparia is also commonly known as the rowan or mountain ash, which confuses people a lot – this is the kind of confusion that the use of botanical names, as opposed to common ones, helps to avoid. Anyway. You’ll know Sorbus aucuparia by its pinnate leaves – small leaflets arranged either side of a common stalk – and its abundant bunches of scarlet berries, visible from mid to late summer onwards. It’s a small, dainty tree, and this, as well as its long season of interest – bunches of creamy blossom in spring and good autumn leaf colour – make it a good candidate for a small garden. It’s also good for exposed locations, being completely unfazed by poor soil and strong winds.

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Gardenwise | The Benefits of Going Under Cover

Thu, Oct 08, 2020

No matter how lovely your garden is, you must admit that sometimes it would be really convenient if you could just add a roof. Fresh air is all very well and we need the rain for sure, but wouldn’t it be lovely if we could enjoy the garden without the rain actually falling on us while we do it?

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Gardenwise | Stretching the Seasons

Wed, Sep 30, 2020

Since that decided nip arrived in the air last week, it feels as though autumn is definitely here, although the golden sunny days might hang around for a little while yet if we’re lucky. It can be easy to give up on the garden at this time of year and I’ve definitely been guilty of that myself over the last month or so. As summer ends and growth slows, things tend to get overgrown and a bit neglected, plants sprawling and looking past their best – just like humans do at the end of a party. Not that anyone can remember what a party’s like just now, obviously.

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Gardenwise | Berry Nice Indeed

Tue, Sep 22, 2020

It’s getting to the time of year when berries abound on plants both wild and cultivated. This is when they can be enjoyed in the ornamental garden and hedgerow – visually, at least. A few weeks further on and a cold snap will see them stripped off by hungry birds, but just now, as the season turns and the leaves begin to do likewise, the jewel like clusters still adorn the branches.

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Gardenwise | A Sense of Place for Perfect Paving

Mon, Sep 14, 2020

One of the more important principles of garden design is good flow – a well designed garden will fit in and sit well, not just with the home or building to which it belongs, but with the wider environment outside, whether that be town or country, seaside or city centre. It’s well worth keeping this in mind before you make your final choice of paving, as your patio or terrace, steps and paths are probably your largest investment in terms of outlay when you are planning changes to the garden or indeed creating a new one.

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