Welcome to my plant and gardening blog. I wanted a section where we were able to share our gardening journey, from the design process to the creation of gardens, and also some planting and aftercare advice. The idea of this blog is to document our own gardening builds at various stages and to also give a few tips along the way. We will also add information about some of our planting schemes but it is by no means a page of do’s and don’ts – after all, every garden is different, and we are all unique in our tastes.
Alchemilla Mollis is one of the unsung heroes in a garden. It is superb for filling your garden borders and hiding any unwanted gaps. A. mollis is a herbaceous perennial that forms clumps of soft and hairy, light green leaves with almost maple-like shapes. It has small, bright yellow/green flowers are on show in large sprays just above the foliage from around June to September and if you cut back the flower heads in August, it will often produce a second flush of flowers – what’s not to like. Well, one thing to keep in mind, it will like to self-seed quite freely, but if you remove the seed head carefully this can be minimised.
I absolutely love this plant, the foliage on it has a tendency to catch water and decorate itself with jewel-like droplets.
The Aliums have started to come out and they look stunning against the dark grey backdrop of the garden fence. We painted the fence dark grey so that it will complement the plants that are in front of it, and also prolong its life. Allium Hollandicum Purple Sensation is one of the more common and most popular of the Allium cultivars. They have a striking silhouette which makes them particularly well suited to a variety of planting schemes, and they also look fab in pots or mixed borders. They have a densely packed cluster of deep purple, star-shaped flowers that appear in early summer above strap-shaped grey-green leaves. These leaves can start to die off early, even by the time the flowers start to appear above it. The flowers will appear in June and will usually only last until the end of the month, but the green seed heads that are left behind can add just as much interest and structure to your planting scheme.
I like to plant these within other plants to hide this foliage as it can be unsightly. They can team up well then with things like herbaceous geraniums or ornamental grasses, which will help mask these leaves as they die off. I often plant them with other varieties of Alliums that flower later to prolong the period of interest, and the best thing about Alliums is that bee’s love them, and that can only be a good thing.
A garden path is very important to your relationship and journey through a garden. There are many different types of a garden path, in shape, materials used and deciding on where you want it to take you. It can be meandering and narrow forcing you to slow down and to manoeuvre your way through the garden to pass areas of interest. A garden path can also be straight and wide, creating a formal appearance, also allowing you to to move through the garden with ease.
When planning this garden, the path was one of the defining elements of the overall design. It was the first pencil marks in the design process, and we planned the garden layout around it. The centre of the garden is made apparent by the tree and planting section in which the path splits and takes you around. The central planting section with the tree acts to slow down your journey and stops the eye looking directly through the entire garden, almost forcing your focus to the planting that surrounds the space.
These Veronica ‘Tissington White’ look beautiful this time of year. They have been planted in the centre of the garden under the Hawthorn tree. They are planted amongst four box plants that will be clipped later in the year and will form the structure in this area, while the veronica’s offer a more naturalising element to the centrepiece of the garden.
These Veronica’s forms a dense mat of thick, dark green foliage, from which tall spires of lightly coloured flowers appear in early in the summer and can go on flowering into August. These are a magnet for bees which is a huge bonus for any garden, and they look great growing among other perennials at the front of a mixed herbaceous border.
They have been very happy situated in the gravel, and the soil is quite poor underneath but has been improved with some general garden compost. These have really filled this space within 2 seasons. Once they have finished flowering they still offer interest with their greens spikes offering a structural element similar to that of the alliums around the garden. Whether on accident or by genius design, the flower on the Veronica is very similar to the flower that is on the hawthorn tree and both look so pretty – Deservedly the centrepiece in this garden.
The planting scheme in this garden is quite limited. We have chosen to use lots of green, with purple and whites throughout. We have purposely limited the variety of plants and used multiples of each species to create a continuity and plant theme that works and feels natural. The plants that have been used are Hornbeam, Buxus, Yew, Viburnum, Geranium, Euphorbia, Allium, along with English Rose – Claire Austin and Wisteria.
The Hornbeam, Buxus, Yew and Viburnum have been used primarily for the structure and height in the garden. We plant structural plants first when forming a garden to better understand the original plant designs along with the relationship between them.
After this, we then focus on the plants that would fill the spaces and give some of the colour and naturalising. For this, we usually plant a mixture of perennials and evergreens such as Geranium, Euphorbia, Allium, and Roses.
We have been putting a few finishing touches to these garden steps on this garden project. The steps in the garden lead to a lower part of the garden that has been excavated to offer a sunken seating area. Sitting in this area will offer a unique perspective of the rest of the garden. It has been designed so that it would allow a different perspective of the planting in the higher section, and offer more privacy from the neighbouring houses.
The path and steps in the garden have a close relationship with the house. The brickwork was specially matched to that of the house and the stone used for the steps is a continuation of the seating area on the top level. The patio doors and the front door are central to the house, and the garden was designed with this aspect in mind. When you walk through the front door, you will be able to see through the hallway, all the way through the garden with the view leading the eye to the hawthorn tree at the centre of the garden.
I use as little to no chemicals in my own garden as possible and always encourage others to do the same. I think everyone needs a little patience and trust that the garden will find its own balance and start to look after itself. Once the garden has established, and there is a habitat for insects and other wildlife the little eco-system that exists in your back garden will sort usually sort itself out without any interference from us or any nasty chemicals.
Many ladybirds are predatory, and they will happily spend their time feeding on aphids and scale insects and can help keep these insects under control. Other species of ladybird will also feed on mildews with only a few that feed on plants but none cause serious problems in gardens.
It pleases us more than anything that we share our garden with the birds, bees and all the bugs in between, and it is their garden as much as ours.
Green is truly the dominant colour palette of most gardens, and very much so in my own. I try to use it as much as possible in any planting scheme. It’s my favourite colour and has so much variety, even within the same plant during the four seasons you can get a huge variety of colour green. At this time of year, everything is starting to sprout up, and put on a show in the garden and remind you how alive your garden actually is after the long winter months. My own garden is still young, but there are signs of things to come over the following years. At this stage of the planting life, the garden will still look new, but within a couple of years, it will be hard to put an age to the garden.
We have used Buxus for most of the structure in the garden along with Hornbeam. The Buxus has been used to line the garden path and the hornbeam to add height and privacy towards the back and side fo the garden. We will prune both of these in early June and again in early September, just after the first growth and main summer growth respectively. Within a couple of years, this will form and become a key structure and feature of the garden.
Euphorbia Robbiae is truly one of my favourites in any garden. When it first appears in early spring the bright lime green flowers above the foliage is a hint of all the freshness of vigour of spring to come. It can often receive a bad name for itself due to the sap being an irritant to the skin, but as long as you are careful when pruning, it’s a very rewarding and key plant to have in any garden. We have used this numerously around many garden-scapes to fill out the borders and give a sense of continuity with the planting scheme as well as giving a naturalising effect.
It’s a valuable plant for difficult areas of dry shade, particularly under trees and it also looks at home in a woodland setting. It also makes a very attractive groundcover and is a great addition to any border to fill any unwanted gaps.
This is really an easy to grow plant that will cope with most conditions. It spreads by rhizomes and can be invasive if kept unchecked, and remember when cutting back flowering shoots to ground level in late summer or autumn to wear gloves or to wash hands after handling.