Cheap and oh so cheerful

April 12th, 2011

They may have messy leaves for several months, they may spread like mad, but I don’t think you can go wrong with grape hyacinths.   The pretty cone shaped heads of blue  are everywhere at the moment.

They are so useful in the garden, in containers

or as a river of blue underneath a hedge

The bulb has an Award of Garden Merit and should be planted in the autumn.  It naturalises very easily, which is horticulturalist- speak for it will spread like wild fire.  Or lazy-gardener speak for plant it and leave it no further effort required. Just my sort of gardening!

Buy the bulbs wholesale from J Parker – about £6 for 100, and plant with gay abandon later this year.

Something for the weekend

April 12th, 2011


With all this lovely Spring weather, you might be looking for somewhere to go this weekend.

Loseley Park in Guildford is hosting a Spring Garden Show this weekend, from Friday 15th – Sunday 17th April.

Lots of things to buy from plants to pottery, spring bedding displays, and a good tea shop too, selling the famous Loseley ice cream.  Yum!


Anglesey Abbey

March 23rd, 2011

A weekend away from garden design in Surrey, researching garden border ideas at Anglesey Abbey gardens in Cambridgeshire.

The winter garden featured recently on my favourite Friday night viewing (now that Monty is back!) – Gardener’s World- so we went to see what it was all about!  The winter garden is a small part of the grounds, and a path snakes through stands of shrubs and perennials.

There was certainly plenty of colour and a lot of planting ideas, which I greedily hoovered up for future designs.

  Grasses had been used well to create colourful and low maintenance ground cover amongst the taller shrubs.

There were some good examples of successful colour combinations.  The pale lemon of this little narcissus worked well with the stems of Cornus alba ‘Flavirmea’, and helebores picked up on the coppery tones of the bark of the Prunus serrula tibetica.

The bark looked well polished, although I expect this was helped by the constant flow of gloved hands from visitors, unable to resist touching the glossy smoothness.

The stand of white stemmed birches at the end of the garden, was a good end to the winter walk and a lesson in less certainly being more.

The tea shop was good too, especially the hot chocolate and cherry flapjack.

Well worth a visit.

Which are your favourite gardens?

Top of the Morning

March 17th, 2011

In honour of St Patrick’s Day, here is a photo celebration of the colour Green. 

There are so many greens in the garden all the year around, which is one of the reasons why I chose the name for my business. 

The warm side of the colour wheel starts with zingy greens, with plenty of yellow in them, like euphorbia

and Hebe rakaiensis, above.

Fresh appley greens of newly emerged aquilegia leaves

and Geranium macrorrhizhum looking lush and perky.

Moving to the cooler side of the colour wheel, blue green Hebe sutherlandii has neat leaves

Box is a popular green backdrop to other plants

and this azalea has a purplish tinge to the leaves.

Glossy holly is a shiny dark green in a shady corner.

With so much green around today, you don’t really need any other colours!

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Arum maculatum

March 10th, 2011


The foliage of Arum italicum ‘Pictum’ is looking particularly glossy at the moment (except in Canada, where everywhere is still frozen, or so I’m reliably informed!).  The spear shaped, dark green leaves are attractively marbled with white, and form a neat clump in a sunny or shady position.  The plant looks particularly good with snowdrops,  and the leaves are excellent in flower arrangements. 

Related to the native Cuckoo Pint, the spring flowers are the same pale green hooded cowls, enclosing a slim spike, which looks like a fat sparkler.  This spike produces drumsticks of orange red berries in the autumn, loved by the birds, which spread them around the garden to germinate.

The leaves die away in early summer so you need to plant something to cover over the space, like one of the many hardy geraniums. 

The plant has an Award of Garden Merit, which means it is approved by the Royal Horticultural Society as a ‘good doer’.  At only 15-25cm high, it is easy to find a place for it in most gardens.

Alternative gardening

March 7th, 2011

There might not be many leaves on the trees yet, and only a  few flowers out in the garden, but how about this as an idea to add colour to your garden all year round?


This was Unravel, at Farnham Maltings a few weekends ago.   It was a festival of all things woollen, at which I had a marvellous time indulging my passion for knitting.

As well as knitting on trees, there were knitted flowers on the railings………

knitting graffitti

…a knitted spider’s web…….


and even knitted molehills!  Not sure about those!


Inside, away from the cold temperatures, and out of the danger of frost, was a knitted hanging basket – the ultimate in low maintenance.


Of course, you need some of these in you want this sort of garden.

gotland sheep

But they are good at mowing the grass, so even less work for ewe (sorry!) to do.

All white on the Night!

February 27th, 2011

another rainy day

What a lot of white flowers there are around at the moment.  Good job too, as the weather is so gloomy. 

Clematis armandii is an evergreen clematis which flowers early in the Spring, dripping sprays of creamy white flowers with a delicate scent.  It is a vigoruous grower, and gets as high as a house, but looks all the more spectacular when it is in flower.  This one, planted at a client’s garden in Andover about 3 years ago, is just coming into flower.  Unfortunately I will miss the main display, as I only visit on a seasonal basis.

White flowers always look good in the shade, and this gorgeous hellebore is looking lovely at the moment.  Wish I’d kept it for myself!

Helleborus orientalis

Variegated white foliage also looks good in the shade all year round, and this combination of Euonymous fortunei ‘Emerald ‘Gaiety’, the fern Polystichum setiferum and Christmas Box, Sarcococca confusa look neat and tidy all year round. 


They were planted to replace an area of lawn, which always struggled under a conifer tree, and they look much more effective and are lower maintenance.

And then, of course, there are snowdrops…

galanthus nivalis

In my own garden, they aren’t quite so many unfortunately, but they are lovely none the less.

Anyone for coffee?

February 11th, 2011

Designing gardens for a living requires a fair amount on non-design activities, like driving along the M3.  I like being in my car and regard it a second office cum coffee shop.  It’s warm and cosy and has a good supply of paper and pens, magazines, a few chocolate bars and some sachets of instant coffee, for that Nescafe moment. 

car water heater

 I’m the proud owner of an in-car water heater, that you plug into the cigarette lighter.  It heats up a mug of water for hot coffee on the go, though it tends to work better when the engine is running, so a bit dangerous if the car is moving.

Anyway, the point of this post was to let you know about a company I discovered while driving along the M3.  A pretty van came past me from  Always on the lookout for interesting garden related items, I found this lovely dibber on their website.

A picture of Dibblet - Yew by UK

Made from yew, it is perfect for the new seed growing season.  It would be good for stirring the coffee too!

Small, but perfectly formed.

February 9th, 2011

iris reticulata

How did something so perfect as this Iris reticulata survive the freezing winter we have just endured?  The rich blue and purple flowers have emerged in the last few days, as if to say, ‘Snow? What snow?’.

If ever there was an excuse to get grubby knees in the garden, then crawling around the borders to look at this beauty must be it.  It is only 15cm high, so best to grow it where it is easy to see, in a raised bed for example.  It likes a sunny position and associates well with  perennials which die right back in the autumn, leaving space for them to grow.

Poppy doesn’t have the problem of grubby knees; she’s not keen on gardening though…sigh.

Tweet Tweet, Birdie

February 1st, 2011

Since the weather turned cold last year, I have been making a special effort to feed the birds in the garden.  I have 2 feeders, hung from the washing line, and it didn’t take long for a veritable flock of cheeky blue tits, great tits and robins to start to visit regularly.  I’ve even seen a beautiful pair of dove grey and buff coloured nuthatches hanging upside down on the peanut feeder.

bird feeders

I  have a tame blackbird, who comes when I whistle – well, I like to think he does anyway!  He might just spend the whole day lazing in the holly tree, waiting for me to appear.


I know it’s the same one all the time, as he has a damaged leg.  It doesn’t seem to bother him too much though, as he is still nice and plump.

As well as the usual supply of bird seed, peanuts and bread and cake crumbs, I sometimes make some bird cake, as a special treat.  It’s so easy to do, and much cheaper than the ready made fat balls, with the non-eco-friendly plastic nets surrounding them.  Where do all those plastic nets go?  Into some horrible landfill, I expect, to pollute the ground for hundreds of years.

Just melt some suet gently in a saucepan and add  sultanas, seeds, and anything else that was once edible and is now lurking in the bottom of the cake tin.  Pour into cookie cutter moulds to set.

I’m also advertising a new property for the spring, for one lucky home owner-to -be.  Shady position, no neighbours and going for a song!

nest box

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