Archive for the ‘country garden’ Category

Pruning Clematis

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

Since the weather is so mild and the ground firm underfoot, I have been tempted to get ahead in the garden.  Normally I prune my Clematis in February / March however I started today on the Clematis tangutica that winds its way up the cherry tree.  The prunings are attractive so I usually make something with them despite them being rather unruly.  Today I just quickly wound them up into a ring that will look like a straggly nest for the weather-vane.  Tomorrow I will tackle the Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’.

Group 2 Clematis are pruned in February March for more details this is the link to the RHS website

Before and after – Somerset

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

I don’t usually post before and after pictures however some clients sent me some pictures of their garden a couple of years on from initial planting.  They also had just opened their garden for the first time as part of the village open gardens event and sent me an email full of enthusiasm:

…”Having not had any previous experience, we were a little apprehensive as to whether people would be interested.  As it turned out our fears were unfounded and we received very favourable comments from most of the 280+ visitors.
In order to explain the story of this comparatively recent garden, we produced a manual with “before and after” pictures. It also contained photocopies of your planting plans and the alphabetic plant note pages. We also had a copy of your letterhead to show that we had had professional help….”

The garden is full of texture, colour, movement and interest now.  There is less grass to mow creating more time and space for a bit of vegetable growing.

Green and white

Monday, June 25th, 2018

This is a friend’s garden – long and narrow creating an immersive experience with deep borders of tall herbaceous borders either side of the grass path. The garden is dominated by white flowers through the summer, here the oxeye daisies catch the eye but there is also white Hesperis matrionalis, Digitalis, Astrantia, feverfew, Centranthus, Philadelphus, Thalictrum, Ammi, Orlaya and Cosmos. Green and white creates a very relaxing feeling in a garden and can be lifted with spots of lime (e.g. Alchemilla mollis) or blue (Nepeta).

One year on

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

This small garden used to be dark and dominated by a large chestnut tree.  The tree succumbed to honey fungus and has been removed, some low retaining walls give a sense of space and the plants hum with bees.   The client had enough local stone for the low walls and a garden office provides a good focal point; set at an angle one can glimpse past it to the vegetable garden.

The landscaping was carried out by

Client recommends plants

Friday, August 4th, 2017

I spent a delightful morning re visiting a client in her organic wildlife garden.  It is now two years after planting and some gaps have appeared in the borders, these have been put down to to snail and rabbit damage combined with a high water table.  Astrantia, Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ and Viola ‘Roscastle Black’ have failed whilst Thalictrum, Periscaria amplexicaulis ‘Fire Tail’ and Veronicastrum prove to be not only tough, but they don’t require staking and the later two are particularly good for the insects.

In another part of the garden, we happened across this  happy accident!  Agapanthus and Stipa tenuissima

Wildflower meadow ready for seed harvest

How to create a wildflower meadow

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Creating a meadow from rough grass or lawn

Key facts to understand

  • It is important to ‘cut & collect’ to mimic animals grazing (use to make compost)
  • Don’t hesitate to cut the meadow where there are still some flowers, if you wait until there are no flowers you will end up with dominant species such docks and knapweed
  • There is no need to remove top soil as a means to reducing fertility, instead establish Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor)

Reasons to create wildflower meadow

  • Massive decline in insects species and numbers
  • Insects (including bees) tend to be underweight, infected (imported diseases) and stressed (loss of habitat) all at the same time
  • 70% of bee friendly plants sold by leading garden centres contain neonicotinoids (systemic insecticide)
  • Reduce mowing, saves time and money
  • Attractive, brings wildlife into the garden (insects & birds) and helps biodiversity

This is a meadow which is full of coarse grasses (e.g. Yorkshire fog) & docks, very few flowers. Tall grasses smother wild flowers; more grass than flowers.

This meadow has not been ploughed nor treated with fertilizers for at least 50 years, there are over 20 different species/m2. Lots of fine grass species; more flowers than coarse grasses.

Yellow rattle
Yellow rattle is a semi parasitic grassland annual, it reduces the vigour of grass and allows wildflowers to establish and thrive, it also reduces mowing requirements. It loves Yorkshire Fog grass and Cocksfoot grass.

Yellow rattle is established from seed in September (no later), sown onto bear soil (e.g. upturned 1m2 patches of turf*) although it germinates February / March (requiring the winter chilling). Establishment can be unpredictable (for example the cold wet spring of 2016) however it usually establishes very well, taking 2-3 years to build up. Use fresh seed sown at a rate of 0.1-1g/m2 (less is required in the shade where grass is weaker, more is needed where grass is strong).

* Different ways of creating bare gaps in the sward

Cut the grass short in the autumn then:

  • Lift and flip over 1m2 patches of turf at intervals throughout the meadow area
  • Harrow or rotavate strips at intervals (e.g. up hill) aiming to expose 50% bare soil
  • Winter grazing with stock (e.g. sheep) as their hooves open up the sward

How & when to establish wild flowers
Delay trying to establish wild flowers in your sward until you have got a good cover of yellow rattle, this may take up to 3 years. Then plant small 9cm plants into the sward or use ‘Green Hay’ from another meadow (contact other meadow owners, for example members of the Moor Meadows group below sell this). Expose some bare earth then spread fresh green hay (same day as it is cut).

If you have a very small area of land that you want for a meadow (e.g. 5m x 10m), rotavate it all, sow yellow rattle (September) and plant wildflower pots and plugs (e.g. scabious, knapweed, betony, bedstraw… depending upon the soil and aspect). You could do the ‘stale seedbed’ technique prior to sowing yellow rattle.

Stale seedbed method – prepare the bed as if it was ready for planting but instead of planting water it and allow all the weeds to grow, then without any futher digging, spray off the weeds then sow / plant.

Rabbits love to dig up freshly planted pots, you might need to put some chicken wire over the top for the first few months.

When to cut
You do not have to stick to exact times each year, the most important thing is to cut 4 times each season. If you have a very large area, you can divide it up and cut at slightly different times.

  • Cut when the grass first falls over
  • Then cut the new growth twice during the summer (on a high mower setting)
  • Give a final cut at the end of the summer

Cutting tools
Strimmer, sythe, mower on high setting if it can cope with long grass althernatively a sythe mower or tractor mounted topper.

Notes by Angela Morley ( taken from Meadow Makers Conference 1/7/17

Further information

Summer in the garden

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Single roses are valuable to insects, here Rosa moysii is acting as a bee magnet

Rosa moysii has now stopped flowering and will soon be covered in unusual shaped red hips, its pretty leaves and upright habit continue to provide interest to the border.  Beneath, Viola cornuta & Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ have been flowering non stop since May.

New house & garden – near Bristol

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

This is the second time I have worked for these clients, this time a new house is being built and the challenge is to make the garden fit with the surrounding topography without creating too many retaining walls.  Currently 1000′s of tons of stone has been excavated and the house will be on split levels.

New plans for garden – Alton

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

I first visited this garden in 2004 when I did some design work and planting plans.  I have been invited back to help with another phase in the development of this garden; how gardens change, owner’s requirements change, how everything changes!

New pub garden – The Litton

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

The wait is over and The Litton is open for business, there are lots of exciting features in the pub and the garden is a lovely space to relax in too!

The landscaping has been done by Green & Gorgeous of Frome