Archive for July, 2012

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It’s Only Natural…

July 27, 2012

clematis.jpgOne criterion that judges look for when judging gardens at shows such as Chelsea and Hampton Court is that the correct plants are grouped in the right places. For example, shade loving plants and sun loving plants need to be planted in the appropriate aspects of a garden.

A good planting scheme should reflect true nature, with regards to the right plants being in the place most suited to them in order to keep them looking good and healthy.

We’ve all bought plants simply because we’ve liked the look of them and then just popped them in an available spot in the border of the garden, not really thinking if the site is totally suitable… and then wondered why the plant was struggling or had died.

One consideration when planning your garden is to be aware of where the morning sun starts, where it moves during the day and where it ends up as the evening sun. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, a south-facing garden will get the most sun during the day. Most of us will have a corner of the garden that will get virtually no sun at all, so that will be the shady north facing side. Knowing this will help in choosing the right location for your plants.

So, how can we know which places our plants will like? Well, most plants available from garden centres are usually well labelled and give this information. Another clue to finding what growing condition suits a particular plant, is to find out which country that particular plant came from. For example, plants from Mediterranean countries will prefer a hot full sun aspect with free draining soil. Most of the ornamental plants we now have here in this country have at some stage been brought into England throughout history by plant hunters as England has relatively few native plants.

We can’t do much about the aspect of our gardens, however there’s a lot we can do about the condition of our soil. It’s all well and good planting a sun loving plant in a sunny aspect, however if it needs free draining soil and it’s planted in clay, then it will struggle, or even worse, die. One remedy for clay soil is to dig in some organic matter which will help improve its drainage. Another simple option is obviously to select a plant that actually prefers clay soil.

So next time before you nip out to buy a plant for a vacant spot in your garden, check to see whether that particular spot is in full sun, full shade or even in partial or dappled shade. Then check the soil too.

Garden designing and horticulture is such a fascinating vast topic that any gardener will never stop learning. The more you learn about and study your plants, the more you’ll find how nature can help you get the best out of your garden and how helpful nature can be.

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Summertime Special!

July 26, 2012

wwwgardendesignercouk-42.JPGIt’s mid-summer and gardens are bursting with vibrant colours and plants are putting on their best displays this month… well, as much as they can under the regular downpours we’ve been having!

Hemerocallis, or Daylilies, as they are more commonly known, range from almost white, through to shades of yellows and oranges, right through to dark purple and deep reds. These colours, together with their clumps of lush grass-like foliage make this plant an elegant perennial. Unsurprisingly, they’re called Daylilies because most of the flowers only last a day, but keep repeatedly flowering during the season and look superb in any border. Dead-heading these flowers will also help to extend their flowering season.

A pretty flowering shrub that makes an ideal shrub for a medium size garden is the Cistus, also know as the Rock rose or Sun rose. They are easy to grow as they will grow in poor to moderately fertile soil in a hot dry spot. Cistus ladanifer can grow up to six foot and has showy tissue paper-like white saucer-shaped flowers with a yellow centre and crimson marks at the base of the petals. Cistus x purpureus is a smaller shrub that grows up to three foot and has dainty type flowers in dark pink.

For a bold tall flower for the border, you could opt for the Ligularia przewalskii, with its erect dark purple-green stems that bear slender, dense racemes of yellow flowers and tooth-cut leaves. This perennial will start flowering in July and continue well into the autumn. It can grow up to six feet and will spread, so do allow ample space for it. The Ligularia seems quite fashionable at present as I have seen it at many recent flower shows and exhibitions.

A real three-foot architectural stunner of a perennial with pure white waxy striking flowers and large heart-shaped leaves is the Zantedeschia, or more commonly called, the Arum lily. This plant should be grown in damp moist soil conditions in full sun and the crown covered in winter for protection.

Another “blousey” flower for the garden during this time of the year is the Lily with its exquisite heady fragrances. Lilies have funnel-shape flowers and varieties can range in height from three to six feet. This regal looking flower provides excellent cut flowers for indoors. I find that lilies are grown best in large pots in order to keep them away from slugs and snails that like to munch on new growths. If growing lilies, then also watch out for the all-red coloured Lily beetle.

At the moment, one of the nation’s favourite flower is in full swing, the Fuchsia, with so many varieties to choose from and a very versatile plant to grow in hanging baskets, pots or borders. With their clusters of pretty pendulous flowers they remind me of ballet dancers and in fact there actually is a variety called called ‘Ballet Girl’.

With summer here and our gardens in full swing, take some time out this month to relax and enjoy the richness of colours of the flower borders and the wonderful scents of summer.

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The Pet Safe Garden

July 25, 2012

g2.jpgWhen designing a garden it is vital to take the owner’s lifestyle into consideration – and that includes owning any pets.

Many of us have pets that have access to our gardens, however many plants can be very harmful to smaller herbivore pets like rabbits and guinea pigs.

Eating poisonous plants can affect your pets in a variety of ways . Symptoms range from a stomach upset to possible fatality. Other symptoms include: salivation, skin allergies and heart and breathing difficulties.

Rodents and Lagomorphs are incapable of vomiting and so harmful plants usually inducing this symptom may go undiagnosed. Here is a list of plants that are dangerous to small pets:

Elder
Toxic, Fatal and cause salivation

Deadly Nightshade
Fatal, affects cardiovascular system

Lily Of the Valley
Toxic, fatal and affects cardiovascular system

Woody Nightshade
Fatal, causes skin allergy and affects gastro-intestinal system

Lobelia
Toxic and causes salivation

Rhododendron
Toxic, Fatal and cause salivation

Foxglove
Toxic, fatal and affects cardiovascular system

Ivy
Toxic, causes skin allergy and affects cardiovascular system

Iris
Toxic, causes salivation, and affects gastro-intestinal system

Privet Toxic, fatal and affects cardiovascular system

Yew
Toxic, affects cardiovascular system

Lupin
Toxic, causes salivation, and affects gastro-intestinal system

Pets In The Garden Need To Be Safe

Plants That Small Animals Love:
Acorn
Alfalfa
Beech
Beechnuts
Chickweed
Clover
Coltsfoot
Comfrey
Corn marigold
Corn Spurry
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Cow Parsley
Daisy
Dandelion
Fruit Trees
Grounsel
Hawthorn Berries
Hazel
Knotted Persicaria
Lady’s Thumb
Lucerne
Meadow Horsetail
Nettles
Oxeye
Plantain
Rose
Shepherd’s Purse
Sow Thistle
Sunflower
Vetch Wheat and Barley
Willow
Yarrow
Young Oak Leaves

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Full Glory

July 6, 2012

gardenblog79.jpgI always look forward to the Hampton Court Flower Show as it never fails to inspire me with ideas for my garden designs. This year we were spoilt with an admirable selection of large show gardens, as well as water and small gardens. Enough to tantalise any gardener! I loved it! I was lucky to be able to go this year and I’m just so inspired!

Anyway, let’s look at our own gardens and see how we can make the best of this this month.

The summer garden should now be in its full glory, but the lack of sunshine through June may have slowed down the growth of some plants, nevertheless there’s plenty to do in our gardens.

Roses are now in their prime, so keep deadheading them to keep the flowers blooming and snip off any leaves that may have mildew or blackspot in order to keep the plant healthy. Also deadhead other flowering plants in your borders such as lupins, dephiniums and campanulas to encourage repeat flowering.

A good balanced liquid feed will boost trees, shrubs, flowering borders, lawns, pot plants and hanging baskets, so give them some nourishment to keep them looking good this time of year.

If you would like some plants for free, then now is the time to take cuttings of garden shrubs such as Abeilia, Ceanothus, Choisya, Forsythia, Fuchsia, Hebe, Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Philadelphus, Spiraea and Weigela just to name a few. Always select a healthy, vigorous new shoot, leave a pair of leaves on it, then when you’ve taken the cutting, dip it in rooting hormone power to promote faster root growth. Plant it in a pot with compost and don’t forget to water thoroughly. Grow on until next spring when your cutting can be planted out into the garden.

The leaves of daffodil and tulip bulbs will now have died down and so can now be lifted if required, dried off and stored in a cool dry place for replanting in the autumn.

If your herbs are growing nicely now, you can be picking healthy young shoots. If you want to dry your herbs, then simply hang them in an airy room, free from moisture. When dry crush and store them in airtight jars or they can be chopped up and frozen in ice-cube trays.

If you planted onions earlier this year, then they should soon be ready to harvest. Bend the stems over to stop seeding and to allow maximum sunlight onto the onions. After lifting, spread them out so that they can dry off completely and you should be able to keep them for several months. Also you can still keep successional sowing of crops such as beetroot, lettuce, radish and salad onions for your summer salads.

Around this time of the year our lawns will definitely benefit from regular moving once or twice a week, but in drier weather remember not to cut it too short. Prune privet and other fast growing shrubs and keep on top of the weeding as well as digging out perennial weeds.

This time of the year certainly can be busy, however there is one thing I always tell people to make time for… and that is simply enjoying the garden and reaping the benefits of all that hard work.