Gardenwise | Keeping Pots Perfect

Tue, Sep 07, 2021

It’s the time of year when summer pots and containers can start to look straggly and it can be tempting to think that their season is over and leave them to their own devices. With a little effort and TLC though, you can keep them flowering and looking good for weeks yet, until it’s time to pull them out and replace them with the more sedate winter container plants.

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Gardenwise | Climbing stars – let late summer clematis take a leading role

Thu, Aug 26, 2021

They must be one of the most impressive climbing plants, with glorious blooms in a beautiful range of shades, but there’s no denying clematis can be tricky. Winter and spring types can mostly take care of themselves, but summer flowering clematis fall into several different categories, all needing pruning, and if you prune at the wrong time of year, you could lose a year’s flowers. It’s this kind of calendar-watching that puts lots of people off gardening, so my rule of thumb is always to keep it simple and choose things that don’t need to be mollycoddled.

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Gardenwise | A Gorgeous Garden when you’re not always there

Mon, Aug 09, 2021

For many of us, the garden is the first thing we see when we open the door in the morning, or return to our homes after a day’s work. Increasingly, however, I find I’m called on to produce garden plans for second homes, for lots of reasons. The second property might be a holiday let, or a much- needed weekend refuge for city dwellers. It’s often the ‘home house’, originally belonging to parents and now being restored for the next generation to spend vacation time in with their families, keeping them linked to their roots. Sometimes, the plan is to move there altogether during the retirement years, so starting the garden now and allowing it to grow and mature in the meantime makes sense

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Gardenwise | Can you have a gorgeous garden by the sea?

Thu, Aug 05, 2021

A garden by the sea can be magical. Or windswept, bare and failing to realise its potential. Personally, I’d go for the former if I had one – and lots of people do – we seem to be drawn to towards the coast like a magnet, to live, to holiday, or just to spend a day near the water.

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Gardenwise | In Praise of Bigger Borders

Thu, Aug 05, 2021

If there is one thing I would love gardeners to consider more often, it’s the need to be generous with your borders.

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Gardenwise | Can You Do the Can-Can?

Wed, Jul 07, 2021

Do you think of watering as a chore or a chance to potter about mindfully, checking on your plants? I suppose it can be either, depending on what other tasks you have to juggle at the time, but I’d like to suggest that increasing your use of the humble watering can will help nudge it towards the latter.

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Gardenwise | Gardening Scentsibly – choosing the best perfumed plants

Wed, Jul 07, 2021

I’m often asked about scented plants. They can pack a powerful emotional punch, reminding you of your mother’s favourite flowers or the blooms from your granny’s garden, so it’s not surprising they’re high on the wish list of lots of my clients.

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Gardenwise | Bouquet in a Bowl – When Flowers are Good Enough to Eat!

Wed, Jun 23, 2021

If you are growing fruit and vegetables this is likely to be a bountiful time of year for you – and I wish I had the space, time and diligence needed myself to run a kitchen garden. Unfortunately, I don’t – but there are still things in the garden that are good enough to eat, and lots of us are likely to have these without even realising.

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Gardenwise | Pergolas

Wed, Jun 16, 2021

Do you know what a pergola is? I only ask because I’ve noticed a good bit of confusion around this, especially recently, as people are looking to create outdoor rooms while there are still restrictions on meeting inside – lots of people are asking for pergolas when what they actually need is a veranda, loggia or even an awning. It’s perfectly okay not to have the distinctions at your fingertips – my job as a designer is to help you figure out what’s going to work and the technical terms are beside the point as long as we get where we need to. But a pergola can be a really good addition to your garden so let’s explore some of the things it can do.

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Gardenwise | Born to be Wild

Tue, Jun 08, 2021

The glorious clouds of cow parsley along the roadside verges this month have got me thinking about wildflowers. They can be fleeting, but en masse they are certainly beautiful. If you’d like to recreate this wild look in your garden, a wildflower meadow area could be the way to go.

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Gardenwise | Could Porcelain be the Perfect Paving?

Tue, Jun 01, 2021

Choosing the right paving is one of the most important decisions you’ll make if you’re renovating your garden or planning a new one. It’s probably the biggest investment you’ll make in terms of cost – not just the cost of buying your paving but of laying it correctly too. Natural flagstone paving and brick or block paving all have their place – but the suggestion I’m making increasingly often to my clients recently is to consider outdoor porcelain paving.

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Gardenwise | Baby You’re a Firework!

Mon, May 24, 2021

Every May I always wish I had planted alliums several months ago. These round heads of purple and mauve are super for plugging the ‘May Gap’ – those few weeks in May when the garden can seem very green but lacking in colour, because the bright pops of colour from spring bulbs are over, and the summer flowering perennials haven’t really got into their stride yet. Each plant produces lots of tiny flowers exploding from the centre to produce a perfect sphere and this is why they are often likened to fireworks. Taller ones will soar over the heads of smaller plants in the border, further adding to this effect.

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Gardenwise | How to Grow a Pizza Garden - for Beginners!

Mon, May 17, 2021

If you’ve ever considered growing edibles but don’t know where to begin, the Pizza Garden could very well be for you. I’m not suggesting you grow your own wheat, obviously, that would just be silly when you can buy a perfectly good pizza base in your local supermarket, but if you fancy trying fresh home grown produce, pizza topping produce could be the way to go.

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Gardenwise | Hold the Half-Hardies!

Mon, May 10, 2021

I have noticed a lot of confusion, amongst new gardeners especially, about the plants you buy for summer colour for your pots, window boxes and hanging baskets. For several weeks, tempting displays of colourful summer flowers have been visible outside all manner of retail outlets, from petrol stations to supermarkets, and it’s perfectly reasonable to think that if they are for sale, it’s safe to plant them out in the garden – but plant them too soon and you could kill them, and here’s why.

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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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