Piet Oudolf planting – Bruton

October 4th, 2015

A leisurely start to the weekend with a garden stroll taking in the late summer colour and architectural seed heads.

Aster macrophyllus ‘Twilight’, Thalictrum ‘Elin’stems & Deschampsia grass

“Keep off the grass”

Stachys ‘Hummelo’ seed heads in front of the grass, Bouteloua curtipendula and seed heads of Nectaroscordum siculumbehind

Other plants that caught my eye included:

Aster lateriflorus ‘Horizontalis’ – low growing very dense aster with masses of tiny pale pink flowers October
Eryngium yuccifolium – architectural sea holly with round flowers
Penstemon ‘
Husker’s Red’ – dark red foliage early in year with pink / white flowers. Red foliage in autumn
Sanguisorba ‘Red Button’ – tall growing, small red drumstick flowers October
Molinia ‘Transparent’ – attractive grass
Eryngium bracteatum – flowers look rather like a Sanguisorba
Dianthus carthusianorum – tall dianthus
Serratula seoanei – low growing, dense habit, masses of tiny ‘knapweed like’ flowers October
Selinum wallichianum – soft umbels all summer long

Plants with good seed heads adding depth to the planting design include:
Echinacea purpurea
Eryngium alpinum
Papaver orientale ‘Karine’
Phlomis russeliana
Aruncus ‘Horatio’

What does your garden say about you?

September 21st, 2015

Last week I was shown around a friend’s garden, it was a long garden in a country setting, narrower at the house end (but not too narrow) and a little wider at the far end. The borders were deep and defined by a meandering grass path, sometimes wide, sometimes narrow – a bit like the course of a lazy river. I see a lot of gardens and this was refreshing, it felt peaceful and private, there were several benches and a lovely carved log bird bath which apparently a small frog occasionally visits!

The beds were mostly weed free but there were pockets of bindweed and ground elder – my friend’s attitude is relaxed with regards to these, she deals with them as and when. This is also her approach to the garden as a whole, she looks after the grass path but doesn’t become a slave to the borders. This fine balance of gardening and enjoying the garden is something I think most people fail to achieve, myself included. Wonderfully refreshing, thank you Ann.

Dahlia ‘Blue Bayou’

September 19th, 2015

Dahlias offer a fantastically long flowering season brightening the garden into early autumn. They may not be everyone’s favourite however with the huge variety on offer, it would be very difficult to not find one you like. From miniature pompoms to neat anemones, massive semi-cactus to dainty water lily forms they come in colours ranging from pure white, vibrant orange to deep velvety red.

In my garden I grow Dahlia ‘Blue Bayou’, an anemone type which is very beautiful but it also provides a late source of nectar to insects. This week I have seen a variety of bees, butterflies (comma, peacock) and moths (tiny day time moths as well as larger moths at dusk) feeding from it.

Garden delights

June 19th, 2015

The beauty of a garden never reveals its whole self to you in one visit, tonight whilst spot watering some new plants, a tiny goldcrest caught my attention. Apparently unafraid, it hopped from branch to branch in the Buddleia then flew over me to the pond and back. It was so close I was able to marvel at its distinctive yellow and black striped head and hear its delicate squeaks. This sighting made my evening but there was more to come when later we spotted a resting privet hawkmoth – large, majestic and elegant with beautifully pointed black wings.

Formal and informal – Devon

May 29th, 2015

In it’s first year of planting, this wild flower meadow has been designed to reach right into the heart of the formal garden. From here you can step out over the river to glorious Devonshire meadows whilst insects and birds are invited in with rewards of safe nesting in the walls of the kitchen garden.

This finger like meadow creates contrast with the formal canal, rill and clipped hedges (when they have grown that is). It is planted with 1000′s of spring bulbs and wildflower perennials.

The wildflower mix is from Emorsgate Seeds: Cornfield annuals mix http://www.emorsgateseeds.co.uk/

Client feedback

May 22nd, 2015

21 May 2015 20:29:59


I am simply delighted….. you have re invigorated my enthusiasm – thank

Best wishes

Sarah T.

(This was for some garden consultancy in Sherborne)

Garden design clinic

May 14th, 2015

Dobbies garden centre at Shepton Mallet are organising a Ladies Garden Party Night on 18th June 5-9pm in aid of The Wildlife Trust. The £1 tickets will get you a glass of bubbly, canapes, as well as lots of free events such as a fashion cat walk, sugar craft & flower arranging demonstrations, an endless chocolate fountain… I will be there too offering free garden advice on any aspect of your garden.

Thursday 18th June 5-9pm
Dobbies Garden Centre, Mendip Avenue, Fosseway Industrial Estate,
Shepton Mallet BA4 4PE

Natural stone in the garden

May 5th, 2015

Old stone properties usually have a disused pile of stone somewhere in the garden whilst local quarries are exciting places to source from.

These projects: Devon, Dorset and Somerset illustrate how stone can be used creatively linking garden with the larger landscape.

Dry stone walls – perfect for wildlife

Water in the garden (2)

April 23rd, 2015

I have just come back from Marrakech, a city that exists and functions as a result of the water channelled from the Atlas mountains. As any short break should do, I have come back refreshed and intrigued by the architecture, the culture and the contrasts of that city. Back home things couldn’t be more contrasting, a lush landscape in the full throws of spring, where we tend not to think much about water in our daily lives, where we can be free to play with it in our gardens and even waste it.

Water in hot countries is used in gardens for its cooling effect, for example in Marrakech the ‘riad’ courtyards are open to the sky with a simple pool of water at their centre, this creates an upward draught of cool air. Here in our gardens water is not usually taken very seriously however it can be a fantastic addition to the garden attracting insects, birds, amphibians (snakes!) as well as being attractive, creating dancing patterns of light, possibly introducing sound and supporting a range of interesting aquatic plants. The bigger the water feature, the bigger the benefit!(http://www.wildgardens.co.uk/?p=2535).

In my garden, the pond is the main focal point, at coffee time, I often sit outside my office next to the pond, and marvel at the life it supports, it is a haven for newts, they are a joy to behold, gracefully gliding through the water and the more I look, the more diverse life forms reveal themselves – last week we discovered that great crested newts have adopted our pond, a large, majestic but rather shy beauty!

The pond in our garden is about ten years old, approximately three metres square and 0.7 metres deep, the base is deeply covered with oxygenating weed (therefore offering different niches, oxygen, shade, shelter, breeding sites…). It has been fish free for about 6 years and it has gradually become inhabited by newts. Last year we had breeding grass snakes in the garden and feared for the future of our newts but happily they are still doing well.

Landscape architect, Kim Wilkie, has a great approach to using water in his projects, in his words “I try to understand the memories and associations embedded in a place and the natural flows of people, land, water and climate” (www.kimwilkie.com).

Rain garden feature – Cyber park – Marrakech

Ruthlessness in the garden

March 25th, 2015

Spring has sprung, buds are bursting, it is nolonger safe to move plants around the garden, it is too late to prune most shrubs (wait until after flowering for spring flowering shrubs (Forsythia, Ribes sangiuneum, Spiraea ‘Bridal Wreath’)), in theory we should be able to sit back and enjoy the sunshine. But oh no! There are seeds to sow and nurture, grass to cut, weeds to keep on top of, staking to be positioned, lawn edges to tidy, dahlias to ease out of hibernation, plants to plant …. the fun is just beginning!

The sunny March weather has been most welcome by us gardeners as well as to bees and wildlife in general. I’m afraid that I haven’t been able to make the most of the fine weather in my garden as I have been snowed under helping clients with their gardens, I have to steal an hour here and there for my own garden. But it was in the sunshine of a client’s garden that I was told of a 16th century saying “a peck of March dust is worth a king’s ransom” (a peck was a dry measure of two gallons) – an interesting thought.

Another quote, this time from Victoria Glendinning “The test of a good gardener is ruthlessness” (said to be Rita Sackville-West’s quote) – this is something I see all the time and definitely something for us to ponder on!