Archive for the ‘Style’ Category

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Indoor Horticultural Styling

October 31, 2012

My love and passion for gardening and garden designing led me to study flower arranging and floristry for the horticultural styling part of my business.

gardenblog78.jpgSo now I not only enjoy the flowers outside in my garden but I can enjoy their splendid beauty and wonderful scent indoors at close quarters.

More and more people are taking up the popular hobby of flower arranging. While it is easy to go along to a florist and buy wonderful flowers, foliage is sometimes limited and can work out more expensive to buy. So why not grow your own?

A garden does not have to be just ornamental it can be functional as well. Many of us grow fruit and vegetables to eat, so how about growing a selection of plants and shrubs that can be used for your flower arranging?

Many of us will have Ivy growing on our gardens, or at least know someone who has, and this is such a useful plant to have in many flower arrangements as it can give a great effect by trailing over the side of a container.

With Christmas coming up, if you spray just the black berries of the Ivy with a silver or gold spray and place it around candles it can form the basis of a very attractive table display.

However, it goes without saying that you always need to take care with such plant / candle arrangement.

Holly is another useful evergreen shrub and tree for its distinctive leaves to use for Christmas decorations.

A versatile evergreen shrub or tree that is number one on my list to have for flower arranging is the Pittosporum tenuifolium with its lovely wavy edged medium size leaves and can fit into numerous types of flower arrangements.

The Eucalyptus gunnii with its distinctive round disc-shaped aromaticwwwgardendesignercouk-18.jpg glaucous leaves will give a more contemporary style to a flower display.

If you constantly harvest this shrub it will keep growing new useful shoots and this will prevent it growing into a large tree which can become too big for the average suburban garden.

For bold foliage go for the Fatsia japonica, with its large finger lobed glossy green leaves, or the Phormium with its broad sword-shaped leaves or the Aucuba japonica ‘Crotonifolia’, the Spotted Laurel with its interesting yellow blotches.

For variegated foliage interest go for the Euonymus fortunei. ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ is green in the centre of the leaf with bright yellow margins or the ‘Emerald Gaiety with its white margin will look really stunning with white roses.

So next time you are given some flowers go out into your garden and snip off some foliage and create an instant lovely flower arrangement to enjoy indoors.

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An Orchestra Of Autumn Colours!

October 25, 2012

wwwgardendesigner7.jpgAs I’ve said before, my favourite time in the garden is in the spring but for my husband it is the autumn. He loves to see all the wonderful rustic colours that the leaves turn into before they fall from the trees.

Around this time of the year there are some super trees to provide orange, gold, bronze and crimson colours for autumn interest and on the top of my list is the Acer palmatum atropurpureum, which I have in my own back garden. This will be turning from its usual purple colour foliage to bright red and when the rays of sun shine through it, it is absolutely stunning.

Autumn is also the season for ornamental berries to show off their splendour. The evergreen Pyracantha is one such shrub that has super bright orange berries and can be grown in a shady or sunny position against a wall. The more sun it’s exposed to, the better, brighter and more berries it will produce.

For clusters of red berries Cotoneaster shrubs are good for this and they are easy to grow in any ordinary garden soil.

For really unusual stunning purple berries that are shown off on bare stems go for the Callicarpa shrub. It can grow to a height of thirteen feet and it’s definitely one for my shopping list.

An interesting perennial that comes into its best around this time of the yeargardenblog761.jpg is the Physalis alkekengi, otherwise known as the Chinese lantern, because of its super decorative papery orange calyces, which resemble lantern shapes. This plant is a vigorous spreader, so leave plenty or room for it. It is also useful for dried flower arrangements.

A dainty and exotic looking hardy flowering perennial is the Schizostylis coccines ‘Sunrise’, The kaffir lily. It has lovely salmon-pink showy, gladiolus-like spikes of open cup-shaped flowers that flower from late summer to early winter and it’s good value for money in any flower border.

Another hardy perennial to flower outdoors this month is the Chrysanthemum. There are so many forms to choose from and a wide variety of colours too. Chrysanthemums can also be used as cut flowers to provide some indoor interest too.


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A Bright future

October 20, 2012

wwwgardendesignercouk-20.jpgThis is the time of year when many of us start to spend more time indoors and forget about the garden, however, you could save yourself time and money by using the time now to plan your garden for next year.

This is the best time of the year when we should be thinking and planning how we would like our gardens to be and want sort of plants we would like to be growing next season.

Autumn is certainly the garden’s “renewing time”, as this is when we should preparing and improving the soil by digging in lots of organic matter and many of the existing plants in a garden can be transferred and replanted.

This is also the prefect time to plant new trees, shrubs and bulbs. Existing lawns can be repaired if parts are worn out and during this time you could be reshaping your lawn for new flower borders or to completely renew and smarten up your garden.

A well-designed border can really enhance and add interest to the garden. When planning a border consider some of the following elements: what form or shape would you like the borders to be?

A straight traditional border gives more of a formal theme and if it butts up to a lawn then it will be easier to mow. A less formal look is to have curved edges to a border to give it a softer attractive feel and look.

Always consider the aspect your border faces, for example if it is southwwwgardendesignercouk-24.JPG facing it will get hot sun all day and if it is north facing then it will have to have shade loving plants. So therefore it may be preferable to have larger planting borders where the garden get more sun light.

Think about plant and colour schemes; the most popular request I get when I am asked to design planting schemes is for all year-round colours. Now it’s not always possible to have borders in full flower all year round, but the objective to achieve is that there is some form of interest in a border for each month of the year.

The best way to do this is to sit down and with pen and paper and under a list of the months, list what plant will be looking its best during that particular month.  At this stage you should consider the colour scheme as well. Do you want a hot border with lots of bright colours or a soft pastel cool coloured border?

When planting up your border start with your ‘star performers’, those are the plants which are going to be the focal points, then plan for the evergreens as this will provide the back ground and framework to your border. After that, plan the shrubs and perennials to give seasonal interest and finally finish off with the ‘fillers’ such as bedding plants and bulbs.

Even though we’re in the autumn season now, use this time wisely to shape up your garden for next season.

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As Summer Fades…

September 12, 2012

wwwgardendesignercouk-41.JPGAs I see the first signs of the Virginia creeper’s leaves starting to turn red I know that autumn is just around the corner, but September is still a vibrant and colourful month in the garden.

One ‘sunny’ flower that is in it’s full glory this time of year is the Rudbeckia, with the common name of Black-eyed Susan, as it has a blackish-brown centre with yellow daisy-like flowers. These are easy and reliable plants to grow in any sunny spot and can grow up to three feet tall to make a super late summer, through to early autumn, display in a flower border.

Another ‘good doer’ for the late summer garden is the Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’, which is a clump forming deciduous perennial with upright stems of fleshly leaves that have clusters of small pink star-shaped flowers. This plant has the common name of Ice Plant, as the glaucous fleshly leaves are always cool to the touch. The attractive flower seed head can be left on the Sedum throughout the winter to give interest and then cut away when they have got too tattered.

A climber that is really showing off in my garden at the moment is the Passiflora caerulea, the Blue Passion Flower. The flower of this plant is so exotic and unusual; I really do marvel at its exceptional splendour. This is a fast growing semi evergreen climber that likes a hot sheltered wall and it produces bright orange plum sized fruits in the autumn. Passion Flowers come in a range of other colours such as white, magenta pink, red and purple, but these are not so hardy as the blue variety.

Another pretty climber which is also useful for summer and autumn interest is the Clematis tangutica. It has these lovely dainty lantern-like nodding yellow flowers that transform into wonderful silky swirls of seed heads. This Clematis can grow to a height of fifteen feet and can be hard pruned down to about a foot in spring to give new fresh growth for next season.

There are many enthusiastic and passionate Dahlia growers and I can certainly understand why they’re so keen about this particular flower. The flower heads are truly amazing and their forms range from single petals, to pompom, ball and to decorative forms.

Dahlias flower from mid-summer to autumn until the first frost and also come in a wide variety of colours from whites to reds, yellows to oranges, light pinks to deep purples and will look super in borders. Most Dahlias will need to be lifted unless it is in a frost-free area. After the leaves have been blackened by the first frost, dig out the tubers, brush off the soil and leave in a cool dry place to dry naturally. Then simply dust with a fungicide, pack in boxes of peat or dry sand and store in a cool dry place. The tubers can then be planted out next spring after all danger of any frost has passed.

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I Think It’s That Time Of The Year

August 28, 2012

gardenblog21.jpgSummer always seems to come to an end just that little bit too early and we’re already fast approaching autumn.

Gardeners are always planning ahead anyway, so even though autumn is more or less here already, lets hope we still get some more fine weather this month.

Although summer is coming to an end, it doesn’t mean that there’s any less to do in the garden.

You can still keep the lawn mower handy as the lawns is still going to need trimming regularly until the weather cools down.  As for dead heading the flowers, keep doing this regularly in order to lengthen the flowering time for your plants and some feeding won’t go amiss for your plants too, as this will also help keep them flowering for longer.

While you’re at it, give your hanging baskets some feed as well, as they’re certainly going to need it too.  As well as this, there’s still the hedge trimming and weeding that needs to be done.

September is the renewing month in the gardening calendar and it’s a good time to start planting evergreen shrubs, hedging and conifers while the soil is still warm enough to encourage good root growth and help get the plants established before winter sets in.

I think it’s always so satisfying to get cuttings and seeds from ones own garden and if you haven’t tried it before do give it a go this year.  If you have any pansies, violas or pelargoniums, then now is the time to take cuttings for new plants for next year.

Also around now you can also take cuttings from non-flowering shoots of shrubs such as hydrangeas and fuchsias. Collect the ripened seeds from perennials and other garden plants, and store them away in paper bags in a cool and dry place for next year.

Summer bedding plants will now sadly be fading and past their best, so this is a good time to dig them up and prepare your beds for winter flowering plants and spring bulbs. A light feed of bonemeal can be dug into your soil to give your winter flowering plants a bit of a boost.

If your lawn is looking a little worse for wear by children and pets making the most of it during the summer, then now would be a great time to re-seed the worn areas and to repair the turf.

You can also aerate your lawn by spiking the gardening fork into the turf and this which will promote better drainage, which will in turn improve root development and ease the compacted surface.

As leaves start falling around our gardens, it’s best to rake them up from the lawn to prevent rotting debris and to stop pests and diseases getting established.

If your lawn is beyond repairing then towards the end of the month as the weather gets cooler and wetter will be a good time for sowing or laying a new lawn.

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The Outside In And The Inside Out

August 21, 2012

wwwgardendesignercouk-19.jpgIt’s without doubt that the popularity of garden design over recent years has enabled many people to transform their gardens into an additional and possibly the largest “room” of their property.

Millions of pounds are spent every year on products to transform gardens into outside rooms, gardening books are always among the best sellers lists and television and radio programmes regularly feature one garden make-over programme or another.

However, even with a lot of time and a bottomless wallet there is one thing in this country which really can throw a spanner in the works with regards to our outside rooms… and that’s the weather.

Many gardens are extensions of the house, giving extra room, a place to entertain, to play and to relax.

As with many years, this particular summer hasn’t been great weather wise, but there are a few things we can add to our garden designs which can enable us to enjoy our summer days and evenings for just a little bit longer.

An awning is a great addition to any garden and can be pulled out from against the wall of the house to provide a bit of warmth on a cool day, shelter from that unexpected drizzle during a barbecue and even to give some shade during any hot sunny weather. wwwgardendesignercouk-24.JPG

Verandas are coming into fashion in many gardens as they are not only useful but can be decorative structures in themselves and some friends of mine have vines growing along the inside with delicate green garden lights intertwined among the branches.

Just like awnings, a veranda can lengthen an evening garden party before either people start drifting indoors or having to nip inside to grab a cardy. Also, a well-built veranda will also provide protection for outdoor furniture and thus extend their use.

A summerhouse will also give you extra living space and a ‘real’ outdoor room, but do check with you local authority about regulations in your area. A decorative gazebo will also provide you with covered garden area to sip your drinks under and also make an attractive focal point in the garden.

Most of us enjoy an outdoor barbecue but our evenings tend to get cool quite early, so investing in a free-standing gas patio heaters might be worthwhile for true garden party aficionados. Instead of a barbecue, how about a decorative cast iron or fired terracotta Chiminea oven, which can double as a barbecue as well as a source of outdoor heating?

Remember those holidays abroad when you spent long sultry evenings perhaps outside in the hotel’s gardens or at an outside restaurant, nursing a drink or three and pecking at nibbles? Remember how you remarked that “if only we could do this at home”? Well, with a well thought out garden design together with some consideration of our climate, we can make the most of our summer gardens without having to go inside early, grab a jumper, put the kettle on and call it an evening… and early evening.

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A Orchestra Of Colour!

August 17, 2012

wwwgardendesignercouk-18.jpgAs gardeners, we’re always looking forward and planning. We look forward to when our particular favourite plants will come into season. We anticipate when various flowers will go to seed and perhaps collect the seeds for the following year.

We plan for the next season, together with the new phase of plants that will appear in our gardens and we even make plans for our gardens for when we’re away on holiday.

It’s already high summer and it won’t be long before autumn is here with its abundance of gold, yellow and brown colours. However, for the time being, lets enjoy what the month of August has for us with regards to the spectacular splendour of colours that are around us in gardens everywhere.

Around now, many people tend to go for a rich kaleidoscope of colours which bombard the senses, however a part of the garden with a more subdued hue can make a garden look quite exquisite.

I think that it’s a nice idea to set aside a part of the garden where you have cooler colours during this time of the year with perhaps an area with more moody darker colours too. If planning such a cool area, then consider the Hosta “Midas Touch” with its leaves of yellow almost appearing to be dissolving into a delicate light green. Do remember though that it’s not only you who will like this particular plant, but so will the slugs and snails as they regard this plant as a gastronomic delight. Another plant that goes well in a cool area, and coincidentally another slug and snail favourite is the Veratrum Viride, with its lovely lush pleated foliage.

There are such wonderful moody coloured plants around now too. One particular elegant looking climber you can see around now is the Clamatis heracleifolio “Wyvale” with its deep purple flowers and its leaves which are a rich blue tinged green. If you have this in your garden, then remember that it needs to be cut back hard in the autumn and that way you’ll be rewarded next year with a bounty of flowers. Nice light blue coloured shrubs around now include the Hydrangea macrophylla “veitchii” which has nice blue flowers with outer florets of white fading to pink and is suitable to most types of gardens as it is lime-tolerant.

In my own garden I have the Perovskia atriplicifolia “Blue Spire”. This is a wonderfully graceful looking shrub with lavender-blue flowers, aromatic grey foliage and forms a lovely almost translucent mist of blue, especially when blown by a gentle breeze.

Although this time of the year is often the brightest and most colourful in many gardens, why not plan something different for next year with some “moody blues” and some cool tones?

Go on, be daring.