Creating a Drought Tolerant Garden

A gravel garden is a great option if you wish to create a low maintenance or Mediterranean style garden. These types of gardens use plants that are drought tolerant, which reduces the need to water regularly although some minimal weeding may still be required.

By choosing the right hard and soft landscaping, a gravel garden can be beautiful, practical and attractive to wildlife.

When planning your garden, the soil is the first thing to consider. If you have clay soil, you will need to add plenty of organic matter as a lot of the plants used in a Mediterranean style of garden prefer a sunny spot with well-drained soil.

Next decision is the gravel – there is a vast array to choose from. With different sizes and colour, there should be something suitable for everyone’s taste whether that be traditional, Japanese style or an industrial look. I would suggest getting a sample of the different types you like and taking them home to try as it will look different in your own setting.

When choosing the type of gravel, its also important to consider if it will be walked upon as angular medium grade gravel is easier under foot. Plus, if you use small (10mm or below), you could find your garden is suddenly more attractive to cats!

Any surface dressing helps shade the soil and keeps it cool which prevents it from drying out as fast after rain or watering and this allows more water to go into the ground for later use. Adding large stones and pots not only creates an interesting focal point, it can also decrease the quantity of water needed as the soil dries out less quickly.

After levelling and raking the surface of your garden border, lay landscape fabric over the surface and cut a cross in the fabric and place your plant through it. Once all your plants are in place you can gently add your chosen gravel to a depth of around 5cm. It’s cheaper to buy gravel loose rather than in individual bags (which also cuts down on plastic waste).

So once you’ve chosen all your hard landscaping materials, the exciting bit is the plants which will bring it to life!

What plants are suitable for a gravel garden?

There are many plants that are well suited to dry, drought like conditions. As a general rule of thumb choose plants with the following attributes:

Small leaf – such as Verbena bonariensis, thyme

Silver leaf – Olive tree and Lavender

Thick leaf – Sedum, Sempervivums

Hairy leaf – Stachys byzantine commonly known as lambs ears which are so soft and tactile.

When planting small plants they can become swamped by gravel, so plant them so that that they are raised slightly above the level of the gravel.

The Contemporary Version of Border in a Box is ideal for this style of garden.

Gravel garden grasses phormiums

This is the Contemporary Design & has just been planted

 

5 Plants to add drama to your garden borders

5 plants add drama to garden border

If your garden needs a bit of drama to liven up the borders, there are plenty of plants to choose from to give a striking focal point, no matter what the light levels or soil type you have – here’s five of my favourites and there will be at least one suitable for you:-

Colocasia esculenta

These plants can be grown from a bulb so are cost effective to buy and grow. They have amazing ‘elephant ear’ shaped leaves and will grow to around 1.5m tall and up to 1.5m wide. They are happiest in part shade in a sheltered spot.

When planting the bulb, which is approximately the size of an avocado, it can be confusing as to which way up to plant it – the holes are where the roots will emerge from and the concentric rings will be where the leaves sprout from.

colocasia bulb elephant ears green leaves

colocasia elephant ears large green leaves

 

Gunnera manicata

This looks like giant rhubarb! It will grow to around 2.5m tall and up to 4m wide – so a big space is needed for it to thrive.  It likes a permanent plot in moist and nutritious soil. It’s a perennial which means it dies down during the winter months. It grows well in full sun or part shade in clay or loam soil.

gunnera large green leaves

Canna indica ‘Purpurea’

These bulbs will add a touch of the tropics to your border and pots. This particular variety has large bronze leaves with a purple stripe with vivid orange/red flowers. It grows to around 1.6m tall and 60cm wide. It loves full sun in fertile but well-drained soil. It’s not frost tolerant, so it will need protection through the winter. A stunning flower though!

orange flower canna banana plant

Stipa gigantea

A fabulous semi-evergreen grass which grows to around 2.5m tall and has arching stems of oat-like flower-heads. It looks stunning in the winter with frost on it, so it’s a great year-round plant for texture and interest. It loves full sun in fertile well drained soil and can tolerate sand, loam or chalk soil.

stipa gigantea grass oat flowers

Cynara cardunculus

Commonly known as the globe artichoke and is one of my favourite architectural plants to look at.  It has enormous silvery green leaves and grows to around 1.5m tall and 1.2m wide. They have huge purple thistle-like flowers from June to September. They also look wonderful throughout winter. They need full sun with fertile well drained soil (loam, chalk or sand)

globe artichoke purple thistle

 

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salvia astrantia corokia

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

RHS Chelsea Flower Show lemon lupins

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

WOW the Chelsea Flower Show was fabulous! This year’s theme is definitely about back to nature with woodland style gardens and natural materials used on all the gardens.  Colourwise there was lots of whites, lemons and pale colours with a few gardens having a strong dark purple and burgundy shades – very beautiful colour palates. I arrived early which enabled me to have a good look around at the show gardens and take some great photos, so have a read of my review and how you can apply some of their design styles to your garden without breaking the bank!

The M&G Garden – designed by Andy Sturgeon

Gold Medal & Best Show Garden

This garden was about rejuvenation and how plants colonise a space.  The large and very striking black sculptures made from 50 tonnes of sustainable burnt-oak timber represented a rock formation Andy had seen in Australia. The paths and steps were made from English ironstone which was a neutral earthy tone in colour to offset the lush green plants.

RHS Chelsea Andy Sturgeon

RHS Chelsea Andy Sturgeon plants

Top Tip #1

If your garden is more courtyard than rolling hills, you can take the burnt-oak timber idea and use smaller wooden posts placed through your garden border – as demonstrated in this display by Daisy Roots Nursery in the Great Pavilion.

RHS Chelsea Daisy Roots nursery black posts

The Resilience Garden – designed by Sarah Eberle

Gold Medal & Best Construction Award

RHS Chelsea Sarah Eberle

Created to celebrate the Forestry Commission’s centenary, and demonstrate the challenges facing forests of the future. It also shows how woodlands can be made resilient to a changing climate and the increasing threats of pests and diseases.

The silo made a striking focal point, especially as it made a creative home office space, although I don’t think I would want to be inside there during a thunder storm!  The trees used in the design were a mixture of native and exotics such as the Araucaria araucana, commonly known as the monkey puzzle tree.

RHS Chelsea Sarah Eberle show garden

I loved the planting which included Echium russicum which contrasted beautifully against the lime green Euphorbia’s, blue Linum and pink Ragged Robin.

 

The Greenfingers Charity Garden – designed by Kate Gould

Silver Gilt Medal

First impression was WOW, I loved the beautifully planted border at the front – gorgeous lemon lupins with white roses and bearded iris. My eyes were then drawn to the back of the garden with the geometric style green and grey striped tiles up the back wall and gorgeous Angelica with lime green flower heads. The trees and shrubs enclosed the seating area to make it feel cool and relaxed on a hot sunny day – and also provided privacy if it was located in an urban environment.

RHS Chelsea Greenfingers charity

Above the whole garden was a balcony which was reached via a lift – all created to make the most of every inch of space available in the garden.

RHS Chelsea Greenfingers charity show garden

Top Tip #2

If you have a small and/or narrow garden, you can make the most of your space with vertical planting. This can be achieved with climbing plants, or create a living wall using ready-made systems like the one used in this garden for the The Montessori Centenary Children’s Garden, by Jodi Lidgard, another Gold Medal winning garden.

RHS Chelsea vertical garden

Kampo no Niwa – designed by Kazuto Kashiwakura and Miki Sato

Gold Medal.

My photographs don’t do this garden justice – this was one of my favourite ‘Space to Grow’ gardens. It looks effortless and a relaxing place to be.  I loved the green oak pergola and the water feature that simply flowed through a rhyll to a tiny pond. Beautiful.

RHS Chelsea Kampo show garden

This garden was designed for a practitioner of Kampo, which is a traditional Japanese herbal medicine. Each plant used in this garden, such as mint, provides a healing tonic to aid digestion, aches & pains and fevers.

RHS Chelsea Kampo water feature

Top Tip #3

Create your own herb garden in pots and containers and place them by your kitchen door for easy access when you’re cooking.  I love to grow mint in pots as it smells lovely when you walk past – to make a fresh mint tea, place a few sprigs in a mug and pour on boiling water and leave to cool slightly before drinking.

Hooksgreen herbs blackcurrant mint

The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden – designed by Mark Gregory

Gold Medal and the People’s Choice Award

RHS Chelsea welcome to Yorkshire

You can’t fail to be impressed by this amazing garden – it looks like it has been dug up and transported to Chelsea.  The attention to detail is mind-blowing.

The garden was demonstrating the history of Yorkshire and how the canals were an intrinsic part to the success of the County and developing the industry in the area.  It included a lock keepers cottage and its garden with beautiful veg and a natural habitat of wild flowers mixed in with some cultivated varieties.

Top Tip #4

I loved how the paint colour around the windows and door were co-ordinated with the Lupins and Delphiniums. This idea could be replicated at home easily with using furniture cushions matching your flowers and painting the garden shed – although you would need to ensure the flowers are in bloom all summer!

pink flowers and cushions

photo: Courtesy Karen Chadwick

Plant of the Year 2019

Every year the RHS chooses a ‘Plant of the Year’ – here is the top three:

In third place – Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’

In second place – Digitalis x valinii Firebird

And in first place – Sedum takesimense ‘Atlantis’

RHS Chelsea Sedum plant of the year

 

There were so many beautiful gardens and planting schemes, here’s a few more photos from the Show:

Natural gardens:

Bronze medal – The Savills & David Harber garden

RHS Chelsea David Harber Savills garden

RHS Back to Nature garden designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge with Andree Davies and Adam White. No medal as it was an RHS garden.

RHS Chelse HRH Princess Catherine show garden

Viking Cruises: The Art of Viking Garden designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes. Gold Medal

 

RHS Chelsea Paul Hervey Brooks

Further Gardens & Installations

This garden commemorates the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and aims to capture the disorientation and terror of the brave young men landing on the Normandy beach in hail of bullets. It was made from steel washers, and was designed by John Everiss. Stunning and thought provoking.

RHS Chelsea D Day sculpture

I also loved this highland cow sculpture from one of the trade stands – how lovely is he?

RHS Chelsea cow sculpture

This planting combination was by designer Chris Beardshaw – another Gold Medal garden.

RHS Chelsea Chris Beardshaw

I loved the water feature of this perspex panel in the Silver Gilt medal winning garden by David Neale called The Silent Pool Gin garden, with lots of plants used in gin making. Lovely!

RHS Chelsea Silent Pool gin garden

There are still many photos I could show you, but if you would like more details about all the gardens, check out the RHS Chelsea website https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/gardens for more inspiration and ideas.

 


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RHS Malvern Spring Festival, Worcestershire 2019

RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2019

RHS Malvern floral sign

The opening day of the RHS Malvern Spring Festival was fantastic! As you would expect, the show gardens were my priority and they were all of an exceptionally high standard.

Here’s an overview of my favourites;

The Leaf Creative Garden: A Garden of Quiet Contemplation – Designed by Peter Dowle.

Awarded a Gold Medal and Best Show Garden – understandably so as it was beautiful and definitely created a sense of calm. Being able to gaze across the garden and reflective pool to the sculpture of a dancing ballerina, created by Simon Gudgeon made a stunning focal point.

The planting was a mixture of perennials and semi mature shrubs, such as Japanese maples, Box and Cornus along with Digitalis Purpurea, Anthriscus sylvestris and Thalictrum. It was all set off beautifully against the back drop of the Malvern Hills.

RHS Malvern Leaf Creative show garden Peter Dowle

RHS Malvern Leaf Creative show garden

 

The Orange Express Garden – Designed by Villaggio Verde.

Awarded a Gold Medal. It tells the story of fruit production in a remote part of Spain, where a cooperative of growers built a small railway to transport their goods to the market.  The attention to detail was outstanding and it all looked like it had been there for many years – from the Spanish newspaper in the latrine, to marks along the wall where the chairs would have naturally left a mark. This level of detail is what the RHS judges love as it all adds to the story of the garden.

The planting included fruit trees – lemon, pomegranate, plus pistachio and Villaggio Verde’s olive trees, as that is their specialisation.

RHS Malvern Orange Express Show garden

Orange Express show garden RHS Malvern 2019

 

The Habit of Living – A garden in support of Diabetes Uk. Designed by Karen Tatlow and Katherine Hathaway

Awarded Silver Gilt Medal and Best Construction Award. This garden was definitely one of my favourites. The aim of the garden was to raise awareness of the charity and highlight the scale of the condition which affects more people than cancer and dementia combined.

At the start of the garden it has a narrow path surrounded by plum and purple coloured plants such as Heucheras and Sambucas nigra, which flowed past the seating area with a lovely water feature. The path widens as ‘managing the condition’ becomes easier which is demonstrated by the softer and lighter colour scheme of blues and whites flowers such as Iris’s, Geums, grasses and Artemesia.

 

RHS Malvern show garden Diabetes

Diabetes show garden RHS Malvern

 

The Green Living Space Gardens

The Green Living Space gardens started out as shipping containers and were adapted by the designers to show with a bit of imagination a small space can be transformed easily into a beautiful outdoor piece of heaven.

Defiance – Designed by Sara Edwards

Awarded Gold and Best Green Living Space.  It’s based upon a London balcony with the owner being plant obsessed and craving green space in the city.

It had a stylish concrete wall to one side with a wooden pergola across the width of the garden. It was filled with lush tropical planting which contrasted beautifully with the pale grey colour of the container and concrete pots.

The planting was architectural palms, Phormiums and ferns which created lots of texture, colour and height. Sara also used trailing plants across the pergola which softened the edges and she also added a small pond with a large concrete planter which added a further sense of calm.

RHS Malvern Defiance show garden

Defiance show garden RHS Malvern pond

 

An Artists Studio at Home – Designed by Jessica Makins in collaboration with Stephanie Tudor

Awarded a Gold Medal. I loved the colour palette of neutral grey/green planting with highlights of dark purple from the soft Anthriscus and poppies to the almost black centres of the Euphorbias. The wall to the side was made of earthy clay with a seating area and inverted shelves containing white objet d’art.  It created a really relaxed vibe where you would love to sit and draw or read.

Artists garden RHS malvern 2019

 

RHS Malvern clay wall

 

Artists show garden RHS Malvern

Congratulations to all the other garden designers:

Gold Medal – The Mindset by Anna Galagan

Gold Medal – What If in support of Rees Foundation by Sebastian Conrad

Silver Gilt Medal – Mediterranean Terrace by Gabriella Pill

Silver Gilt Medal – The Macmillan Legacy by Gary Bristow

Silver Medal – Grace & Dignity by Lucie Giselle Ponsford

Silver Medal – Ikhaya: Home by Stacey Bright

Silver Medal – The Redshift by Julie Bellingham

Silver Medal – Zeta: Memories of Home by Anastasia Yakovleva

There is so much to see and do whilst at the show such as the Floral Marquee which is full to the brim of stunning plants you can buy from unusual pelargoniums by local nursery Fibrex Nursery to air plants and cottage garden favourites – and everything you can possibly think of and more! It really is a plant heaven and you can spend ages browsing and chatting with the nurseries.

The schools gardens are also a treat to see – it’s so nice to see young people getting into gardening and is filled with enthusiasm with their works of art.

There’s also plenty of shopping for everything you need for your garden from machinery, to glasshouses to ornaments and water features. There is so much to see and do which makes this event a real highlight on the calendar and well worth visiting.

cor ten steel sign

Macmillan show garden RHS Malvern 2019

Lupins

Hooksgreen herbs blackcurrant mint

RHS Malvern floral marquee echeveria

 

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BBC Gardeners World Live Beautiful Border, Jar of Life

How to create a stylish Alpine Trough

Almeria maritima alpine plant pink flower

If you want a low maintenance but stylish garden, alpine plants are a great option. Most of them are evergreen which means they can provide interest all year round.  Alpines prefer dry and rocky gardens, so an easy way to create the ideal growing conditions is in a trough.

There are lots of plants to choose from, mainly petite and slow-growing and can easily be bought from your local garden centre.

Here’s  three plant ideas to get you started:

Sempervivum

sempervivum

Commonly known as houseleeks, these gorgeous succulents create rosettes of leaves and come in various colours from sage-green to purples which look striking against grey stone or rocks.  They can grow to around 50cm tall when in flower and spread easily by creating off-sets. They love loam or sandy soil in a sunny spot.

Thymus ‘Silver Queen’

Thymus silver queen

Another lovely evergreen shrub and is a culinary herb (which tastes fabulous on your pizza instead of oregano!). It grows to around 20cm tall and has pretty ovate leaves edged in cream. It has dainty pink/mauve flowers in the summer.

Armeria maritima

(photo above) Commonly known as thrift – this lovely pink flowering alpine is an evergreen perennial, with mat-forming dense narrow leaves. It will grow in all soil types too in full sun.  Flowers from May to July.

Other plants you could try are Aubrieta, Cyclamen, Iris reticulata, Tulipa greigii, or Abies balsamea Hudsonia.

Planting an Alpine Trough

alpine trough succulent plants

 

Here’s my step by step guide in creating a beautiful alpine planted trough:

  1. Put the trough/container in a sunny place. Ensure there are enough drainage holes and it is sturdy.
  2. Place a layer of old crocks on the base to help drainage. Then add a layer of gravel. Check the water runs freely through it as alpines don’t like sitting in water logged soil.
  3. Add the compost/planting material. This should be a blend of 1 part top soil, 1 part peat or well-rotted leaf mould and 1 part grit, mix it all together and place on top of the drainage layer. Firm it all down.
  4. Add rockery stones – bury each one to around a third.
  5. Add plants and arrange around the rocks/stones and include a trailer to go over the sides of the trough and water thoroughly.
  6. Cover all bare soil with 2.5cm layer of stone chippings. This helps keep the neck of the plant dry from damp soil.
  7. Watering is necessary in hot and dry weather until the plants are established.

You can join the Alpine Society who provide advice and guidance worldwide. You can contact them via their website www.alpinegardensociety.net

Alpine Garden Society Pershore Sempervivum

Photo: Sempervivum courtesy of Alpine Garden Society, Pershore

 

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purple alliums

Five things to consider when designing a patio

planning a patio paving

Designing a patio

When I’m designing a garden, a patio is usually top of the list of ‘needs’ as everyone wants to be able to sit somewhere comfy in the garden. But then comes a whole list of decisions on what materials to use, where to place it and budget.

So here’s my simple guide on things to consider when planning your patio.

Position

The size of your garden might dictate this decision for you, but if you’re lucky enough to have a choice, then you may want a couple of areas to sit – one for shade and one for sun. Take in to consideration any views to enjoy or privacy from neighbours. Alternatively you could create a gazebo around your patio with a moveable fabric canopy to protect you from the rain or extreme sunshine.

gazebo with retractable canopy

Size

What is the patio going to be used for? Tea for two, family get-togethers and how about an outdoor kitchen?  Bear in mind you will need approximately 1m space around your furniture to allow the pulling out of chairs from the table comfortably.

Nikki Hollier Border in a Box RHS Malvern show garden white seating

My first show garden at RHS Malvern 2016

Style

A patio is usually an extension of the interior, so flow from one to the other ideally should be seamless. There are lots of materials and colours to choose from so your style of home needs to be considered so it creates an cohesive look. The planting can soften any edges and create the ‘vibe’ you desire whether that is modern, tropical or cottage style.

There are many ways to create the desired garden patio such as the size of the slabs/paving stones. You could use different sizes or several kinds of products such as this example by Digby Stone

Digby Stone  grey paving

Materials

There is so much choice which can be overwhelming. The most popular choices are gravel/chippings, natural stone, porcelain, decking (composite or natural wood), slate, concrete or brick – but there are many more options. Then you probably want to think about the style and finish – such as using a mixture of materials to create additional interest and texture. Although gravel is usually the cheapest product to use, it’s difficult to place chairs and tables comfortably on (and tricky to walk on in heels!). So to keep costs to a minimum, you could create the centre of the patio with paving with gravel around the edge which also adds texture and colour interest.

Pip Probert Outer Spaces patio paving

Photo courtesy of www.outerspaces.org.uk

 

Budget

That depends on the size and materials you decide to use. This is where working with a garden designer can add value to your project and help define a beautiful space for you to relax in within your budget. Done well, it can add value and/or sale-ability of your home.

This photo is a beautiful example of a dining area and relaxed seating area all coordinated using different sized paving and materials. It is functional and easy on the eye which is created by using muted colours.

Digby Stone patio paving

Photo courtesy of www.digbystone.com

Next steps…

One of the most expensive parts of the project is the labour, so to keep costs down; you could do it yourself, and also use rectilinear products. This means there is less cutting and wastage of materials to create your patio.  Also if the garden is on a slope it can add further costs as you may need to remove some soil plus you will need to consider what drainage and levels are needed, so working with an experienced landscaper can reduce hassle for you and give a professional finish.

Thinking about the bigger picture and planning your garden before starting the project will save money (and stress) in the long run. Gather images of gardens and paving ideas beforehand so you can understand what kind of styles you prefer.  I use magazines and online images to create a mood board, which helps to clarify my thoughts.

Once you have an idea and have whittled it down to a couple of products, ask for some samples (which may need to be paid for) and see how they look in your garden.

My friends at Digby Stone have created a patio planner, which is a really useful tool to help you visualise your garden along with a pricing tool and also the aggregates required to complete the project. Their website has some really useful ideas on laying patterns, maintenance and how-to guides. https://www.digbystone.com

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salvia astrantia corokia

Perennials for Pots

perennials for pots border in a box

 

Spring and summer are traditional times to create containers full of seasonal bedding (annuals) to add colour to the garden, however, by using perennials, it can add more texture and interest.

What is the difference between an annual and a perennial?

An annual is grown from seed, blooms, produces seeds, and then dies all in one year. Whereas perennials will last several years – it usually dies back over the winter and regrows each spring.

By planting perennials in pots, you can add structure and height along with lots of texture with different shaped and coloured leaves.

Pots are ideal to fill in gaps in the garden borders and if you’re living in temporary accommodation it is one way to create a beautiful garden that can move with you.

Other advantages of using pots are taking care over winter – they can be moved into the greenhouse, porch or closer to the house for protection. Also you can use different soil which will enable you to grow any plant you choose.

When it comes to planting perennials in containers, it is better to choose a bigger pot due to having larger root systems than annuals, so they require more space to grow well.  It’s also ideal to have pots in odd numbers and different heights which creates further interest and are easier on the eye.

What perennials look good in pots?

Choose plants that have interesting leaves and flowers for long periods – here are three plants that will create a lovely display together:

Heuchera

heuchera in flower

I love these plants due to the colour range of the foliage, the long thin stalks with tiny flowers on top and they simply look great in any garden. They like full sun and part shade and are mound forming so are ideal for the front of a border, or in a pot, clumped with other pots. Variety ‘Plum Pudding’ has striking dark purple foliage with a dusting of silver. *Top-Tip* buy immature plants to make your budget go further – here is an example of a 2L pot compared to a 9cm pot, the juvenile Heuchera will soon mature to the size of the 2L pot.

Penstemon

purple penstemon

Another favourite – especially the ‘Pensham ‘ series. These were developed by Edward Wilson, who sadly died in 2009, but his legacy of Penstemons lives on through Hayloft Plants in Pensham (a local company to me).  An ideal variety to go with the Heuchera is Penstemon ‘Pensham Plum Jerkum’ which flowers from July to October, with tall flower spikes of dark purple with white throats, which are very striking.

Artemisia

Artemesia silver leaf plant

The third pot for an attractive contrast to the Penstemon & Heuchera is Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ with its aromatic, silvery coloured fern like leaves. It’s also semi evergreen so it will remain over winter, but will lose a few leaves. It grows to around 70cm tall and prefers full sun. It will flower in August with small insignificant yellow flowers, which look great with purple.

Other perennials you could use are Salvia’s such as the ‘Caradonna’ variety with dark square stems; Helleborus for spring flowering, and Lavender for it’s amazing scent.

 

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pink tulips

Japanese Maples – Beautiful trees for small gardens

Japanese Maples

If you’re looking for a tree suitable for a small garden, a Japanese maple is the perfect choice! They are small deciduous trees that are happy in the border or large container. They are one of my favourite trees as the foliage is really pretty and in autumn they turn the most beautiful colours.

The best time to plant them is in the autumn in a sheltered sunny or part sunny spot as they don’t like cold winds or frosts.  You can protect them with horticultural fleece during the winter. The sun can scorch their delicate leaves, so a dappled shaded area is perfect for them.

They prefer slightly acidic, nutritious, sandy, well-drained soil, but will generally grow well in most soils; however, they don’t like water-logged soil, overly dry or very alkaline conditions.

If you’re growing in a container, keep the compost moist and feed with a slow release fertiliser in spring and summer.

Care & maintenance

If your tree needs cutting back, do it when it is dormant – ideally between November to January. When a maple is cut it will bleed sap which could weaken and ultimately kill the tree, so it’s best to keep pruning to a minimum.

If you need to reduce height and/or width, simply cut back to a side branch and also prune crossing shoots which will keep the framework looking good.

Here are some of my favourite Acers that look fabulous:

Acer palmatum Sango-Kaku

Acer palmatum sango-kaku

This can be a shrub or small tree as it can grow upto 6-8m tall and spread 2.5-4m.  It likes a sheltered sunny or part-sunny spot in the garden and is deciduous but suitable for all soil types. I love the gorgeous red stems with contrasting green leaves, which as you can see turn a lovely yellowy-red colour in autumn.

Acer palmatum dissectum Inabe Shidare

Acer palmatum dissectum Inabe Shidare

This tree is so pretty – the spreading shape and the finely cut leaves are stunning. This variety grows to around 2.5m tall and also likes a sheltered position in a sunny or part sunny garden. It’s happy in all soil types too.

Acer palmatum ‘Tsuma gaki’

Acer palmatum tsuma_gaki

How beautiful is this leaf? It looks so delicate with its reddy/pink-blushed edges surrounding a yellow leaf. The leaf turns lime green as it matures, which in turn becomes a stunning red colour in autumn. It grows to around 2.5m x 2.5m so it’s ideal for adding a bit of height in a container garden.

Acer palmatum ‘Shigitatsu sawa’

Acer palmatum shigitatsu_sawa

This tree grows to around 4.6m tall and 3.7m wide so its better suited to a larger garden. It has fabulous cream leaves with dark green veins and certainly creates the wow factor in any garden. As the leaves mature, they become green and then turn red in autumn.

Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’

acer_palmatum_shishigashira

This is a bushy upright Acer which is happy in all moist but well drained soils in part shade or sunny areas of the garden.  It grows to around 4m tall and 2.5m wide.

If you would like to visit a nursery specialising in Japanese maples, I can recommend Howle Hill Nursery or their new plant centre at Huntley (both not far from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire). Photographs were taken there in the spring and autumn. Further details and opening times www.howlehillnursery.co.uk.

These trees are a perfect addition to any of the Border in a Box designs and I used Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Omatum Fontana’ in my Platinum award winning show garden border at BBC Gardeners’ World Live 2018. You can recreate this design with the Wellbeing version of Border in a Box.

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BBC Gardeners World Live Beautiful Border, Jar of Life

Border in a Box Wellbeing sensory planting plan

 

Border in a Box Wellbeing

 

 

Garden Designer vs. Landscape Gardener: The difference and why you probably need both

 

You’ve got a garden that is looking less than interesting and after being inspired by the home and garden makeover shows on TV, you’re thinking how hard can it be? But you soon realise you need some professional guidance, so who do you call, a garden designer or a landscaper? The truth is you probably need both and I’ll explain why.

What is a Garden Designer?

A garden designer is someone who is trained in, and has experience with, designing and planning a garden project. This could be the modification of an existing garden or creating a completely new one. Garden designers specialise in combining colours and forms to create something beautiful out of your preferences and ideas to enhance your home. They know their stuff when it comes to plant placement and choice and are always up to date with the latest trends in colors and garden elements such as paths and patios. If you are looking to make-over an existing garden or create a new one and want a garden that absolutely wows and stands the test of time, then you need to work with a garden designer first. They will discuss your garden needs and come up with a design called the Master Layout Plan, which a landscaper can provide a quote for and then build the garden.

What is a Landscape Gardener?

Landscape gardeners are the ones who get down and dirty and deal with the actual gardening. They are the ones who do the installation of your garden design. They take care of the purchasing of materials and many companies even provide maintenance and ongoing support to ensure it continues to look beautiful. Landscape gardeners usually offer maintenance services for existing gardens to keep them looking great and many companies also employ arborists for tree maintenance. While landscapers can advise on garden choices and often have suggestions of their own it is advisable to work with a designer.

Why Both?

To get a truly amazing garden that will add value to your property and joy for years to come, you really do need both. Think of a garden designer as an architect and the landscape gardener as a construction company. You wouldn’t want to just pay a construction company to build your house without a blueprint. You want the best person for the job at hand and the creation of a garden with the right plants for you that will continue to be amazing as it matures requires both an expert in design and the artistic side of it as well as experts in the practical aspects of gardening.

Pink floral border

 

If you would like a bespoke planting plan for your garden, I can create this for you regardless of where you live, here’s how I can help – https://borderinabox.com/bespoke/

Further blogs available:

  1. How much does it cost to design a garden – https://borderinabox.com/budget-cost-design-garden-uk/
  2. Creating a low maintenance garden – https://borderinabox.com/creating-low-maintenance-garden/
  3. How a nice garden adds value to your home – https://borderinabox.com/improve-your-home-add-value/

 


 

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Nikki HollierFounder of Border in a Box
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