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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Loveliest of Trees

Tue, Mar 13, 2018

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.

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Perfect Early Spring Perennials

Tue, Mar 06, 2018

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.

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The nicest narcissi

Tue, Feb 27, 2018

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.

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Final Call for Hedges travelling to...

Tue, Feb 20, 2018

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.

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The Lovely Lenten Rose

Tue, Feb 13, 2018

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.

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Getting into Gear and Putting the Plot in

Tue, Feb 06, 2018

Last week ‘s Gardenwise was about reconnecting with your garden after a long, cold and muddy winter and I hope you had a chance to do that and that a few rays of sunshine appeared to encourage you! We may still have the cold and the mud for a while yet but spring is drawing nearer with every week, and there are some jobs that are well worth doing around this time if you can manage it, so here are a few suggestions if you’re itching to get outside and get gardening. These will help freshen up the garden and hopefully the air and exercise will freshen up the gardener too!

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Woolies, Wellies and Jobs to do!

Mon, Nov 20, 2017

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.

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