Blog Entries Archives
Posted on: August 2nd, 2017 by adminAlthough we tend to associate Lavender fields with Provence in Southern France, we can see fields of these aromatic plants here in in England, where they are harvested for essential oils, culinary ingredients and beauty products. Lavender is widely used as an essential oil to aid relaxation and encourage sleep but not all lavender has these properties. The softer scent of the Lavender Angustifolias are the ones for bedtime slumber, whilst the more astringent hybrid Lavender x Intermedias act as a stimulant and are the ones most suited to use in candles, toiletries and household cleaning products. The distinctive scent and vibrant colour of row upon row of lavender plants spread out as far as the eye can see is truly intoxicating. There are many varieties of Lavender and given the right conditions – well drained, sandy soil and plenty of sunshine – they will add their uplifting scent and colour to our gardens as well as attracting bees and butterflies. Add a Lavender or two ......or five ......to your garden and breathe in their heady scent.
Posted on: August 2nd, 2017 by adminA recent visit to Hampton Court flower show re-kindled our enthusiasm and love for plants…. From the simple to the flamboyant, the sheer diversity on display was an assault on the senses and provoked many an ”ooooh”, I want one of those in my garden”. Some of us did, indeed, return home lugging trolleys, bags and boxes filled with a kaleidoscopic array of colour and verdant green leaves to the bemusement of the commuters returning home from their offices in the city. Big blousy hydrangeas, arty alliums and swathes of scented herbs and roses…. something for every gardener. Unusual varieties of Calla lilies and sumptuous exotic orchids in deepest inky shades or vibrant lime. Unusual ways of growing and displaying herbs and vegetables with open bookcases filled with potted strawberries and organised tiers of vivid brassicas. So… a few more plants to add to our growing wish list, some inspirational ideas or at the very least a glorious day out surrounded by nature’s bounty.
Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by adminThe lyrical sound of the dawn chorus begins early this time of year and invites us out into the garden to enjoy the fresh morning air and to wander around the garden to delight in the abundance of the season… or at least to perch on a garden bench with a cup of coffee. Gardens are crucial in sustaining our wildlife and there is much we can do to encourage birds, bees and various 'beasties' to share our outdoor space with us. Selecting plants that provide food, nectar and shelter for wildlife will also provide us with beautiful scent, spectacular colour and trilling bird song. Plant varieties like Salvias, Lavenders, Penstemons, Phlox and Daisies for pollinating insects, Buddleia and Teasels for butterflies, Sunflowers for tits, sparrows and siskins and Foxgloves and Thyme for bees. All hardy annuals will attract insects and this will in turn attract the birds. In the countryside, native hedges of Holly, Hawthorn, Dogwood and Ivy provide protected nesting and roosting sites for birds as well as a myriad of insects to feed hungry chicks with gaping beaks. Prickly Pyracanthas with their orange berries are loved by finches, sparrows, starlings and thrushes, whilst the autumnal blue berries of the spiky Berberis are favoured by blackbirds and thrushes. The thorns also make for secure hiding places and protection from stormy weather and predators. The Honeysuckle’s tangled vines provide ideal nesting sites as well as attracting insects and aphids for warblers and bull finches. Share your fruit harvest with the blackbirds, thrushes, chaffinches and redwings and allow them the odd strawberry or two…. Even small gardens can encourage and enjoy wildlife with selective planting – pots can be crammed full of varieties that encourage bees, insects and the birds that feed on them. A number of studies have highlighted the continued decline of animal and plant species and although there is no simple solution to how we can, individually, help to stem this decline, conservationists suggest that by getting involved in monitoring projects and adapting our gardens, we can make a difference - small changes can bring huge benefits.
Posted on: May 24th, 2017 by adminIt’s that time of the year when all garden enthusiasts turn their thoughts to Chelsea….the annual RHS garden show at the home of the Chelsea Pensioners in London.
Since the first show in 1913, in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, this prestigious flower show has never ceased to thrill and inspire us with the most incredible plant and garden displays. The show gardens, whilst practically way beyond the reach of most gardeners, nonetheless serve as great inspiration…. We can always take something away with us and translate it into our own gardens, even if it is only a dramatic colour palette, a beautiful plant or planting combination or a new way to visualise the way we use our gardens. Show gardens tend to be thought provoking, sometimes controversial and push the boundaries of garden design, much like the "haute couture" of the fashion world. Whilst these large gardens may be the headliners, the smaller artisan or city gardens show how stunning spaces can be created on a more modest scale and offer achievable, beautiful and clever ideas whereby we can improve and re-imagine our own outdoor spaces.
Chelsea also offers an opportunity for a bit of “armchair” travel, with exhibitors from around the world setting up displays using their natural flora and unique design references … creating mini-landscapes highlighting the sheer diversity of the natural world… a kaleidoscopic glimpse into exotic locations and magical vistas. This year’s ‘Best In Show’ winner was an evocation of a Maltese quarry, austere in its beauty and hopeful in its message. A barren, abandoned quarry softened with natural planting… nature healing the landscape denuded by man. Not for you…? …Then take a meander around the floral pavilion. Here you are sure to find something you love. Floral displays that dazzle with their vibrant colours, intoxicating scents and alluring shapes. Nature in all its glory…
And the best part… you can go home with a head full of ideas, memorising the names of plants you simply have to acquire and on the last day, you may even stagger home under the weight of a vast potted plant, which can put down roots in your own garden.
So whether you are hot-footing it around the Chelsea walkways or merely watching the television coverage – enjoy the spectacle and do let us know which garden receives your People’s Choice vote.
Posted on: April 20th, 2017 by admin
One of our designers, Katie Thomas, was inspired by a visit to one of the most stunning spring gardens in the world - Keukenhof in Holland. Not only do these unique gardens provide incredible "eye-candy", they can also provide ideas for our own spring planting. Keukenhof Park extending over 32 hectares of land is planted with more than 7 million bulbs with a total of 800 varieties of tulips. One of the most popular bulbs, the tulip is a bulbous perennial of the lily family with large showy flowers with 6 petals and comes in an extensive array of colours.Although it is unknown who first brought the tulip to Northwestern Europe, Carolus Clusius, a Flemish doctor and botanist, planted tulips in the Imperial medical garden in Vienna as early as 1573. He was appointed prefect of the imperial medical garden by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilliam II and later, as a professor at the University of Leiden, Clusius planted the first tulips in the botanical gardens in the Netherlands in October 1593. Regarded as largely responsible for the spread of tulip bulbs in the final years of the sixteenth century, Clusius finished his first major work on tulips in 1592, and made note of the variations in colour. Between 1634 and 1637, these beautiful bulbs sparked a frenzy now known as the tulip mania. Tulip bulbs became so expensive that they were treated as a form of currency, or rather, as futures. Many Dutch still-life paintings include the ceramic tulipiere that was devised for the display of cut flowers, stem by stem. In our own gardens, spring bulbs can be used to create striking borders with single blocks of colour, a more naturalistic display using a combination of colours and bulbs or a bold focal feature such as a river of grape hyacinths. The shape of the border can be just as important as the colour contained within. Sweeping curves or more formal lines are equally effective in showing off the myriad combinations of bulbs available. Combining these plantings with water features to reflect the vivid colours, creates a magical spring display - even on a rainy day. Tulips are well suited to container gardening and some varieties can be naturalised in grass. They grow best in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun, sheltered from strong winds. Plant new bulbs from mid- to late autumn for a beautiful display from March to May. Plenty of time then, to enjoy pouring over tulip bulb catalogues and to decide on the variety that is just right for your garden... from the deep purple Black Diamond to the fragrant pure white Purissima..... Perhaps interspersed with sunny daffodils, English Bluebells or delicate white and pale blue Puschkinia, known as Russian snowdrops. You'll be spoilt for choice.
Posted on: April 20th, 2017 by adminThe warmer weather we have been enjoying in Kent these past few weeks has encouraged us all into the garden to soak up some much needed sunshine. However, it also encourages those pushy and prolific unwelcome garden visitors ….weeds! Although these are technically only plants in the wrong place, some can be invasive and impact on the plants we do want to nurture. Creeping buttercup, Cleavers, Dandelions, Ground elder, Mare’s tail and Japanese knot weed, amongst others, delight in bare soil areas or damp lawns. Fast growing weeds are difficult to control and often have extensive root systems which can regenerate from small fragments left in the soil and can lie dormant in the soil for years. Despite being much maligned by gardeners, weeds serve an important purpose. Their job is to protect open soil from erosion and by forming a mulch, they prevent phosphates, nitrates, minerals and ground moisture from leaching out of the soil. They also trap rainwater and act as natural water filters. In order to fulfil this function, weeds need to be tough, adaptable and produce millions of seeds to ensure their survival. These “bullies” of the garden world need to be tamed however, to ensure that our chosen garden plants flourish without their stiff competition. Keeping borders well stocked, providing a thick mulch of bark or well-rotted compost and removing weeds and their roots by hand, before they produce seed, all help to ensure that our gardens provide an attractive environment that will allow those plants with finer sensibilities to flourish.