Monday, 25 May 2009

Climbing Plants

If you’ve got limited space and want some extra planting, have a piece of fence you’d like to cover, or a pergola that needs some interest and colour, then what you need is some climbers.

In smaller gardens you can add extra planting simply by putting up a bit of trellis and planting some climbing plants. It’s one of my favourite ways to add colour and texture to a garden without letting yourself in for loads of extra work. Also, climbers grow much quicker than shrubs, so will cover a fence, trellis, or pergola in a couple of years – some of the more vigorous ones can be up and over an arch in a single growing season.

So here are some of my suggestions:-

Climbing roses: don’t be scared of roses, they’re remarkably tough and some of the modern varieties are disease resistant, so no need for spraying. I love Crown Princess Margareta, a gorgeous gold rose that flowers its sock off and smells delicious. Other favourites include ‘A Shropshire Lad’ (peachy pink) and ‘Falstaff’ (rich, deep, velvety red) – both heavily scented and repeat flowering. All these roses are by David Austin – log onto their Web site and choose from their massive catalogue .

Clematis: so many different varieties to choose from and all flowering at different times of the year. There are some that will even flower in the depths of winter. I love Clematis alpina ‘Frances Rivis’ (blue flowers in early spring), Clematis ‘Vyvyan Pennell’ is my absolute favourite, it produces fabulous double lilac flowers in early summer, then single blooms later in the year. I choose clematis that complement the climbing roses and plant them together.

Jasmine: Trachelospermum jasminoides is a great plant - an evergreen that produces heavily scented white flowers during the summer. Another favourite is Jasminium ‘Fiona Sunrise’ - deciduous, but with stunning lime green foliage and scented white flowers in summer.

Honeysuckle: many different varieties that produce intensely fragrant flowers at different times of the year. I like Lonicera ‘Halliana’, Lonicera ‘Serontina’, and Lonicera ‘Dropmore Scarlet’.
For a shady wall or fence try Vitis coignetiae, a very vigorous, non fruiting vine with huge leaves that turn fabulous fiery colours in the autumn.

Ivies have a bit of a bad reputation for being invasive. For some evergreen colour try some of the smaller leaved varieties such Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ and Hedera helix ‘Goldchild’. They’re not quite so vigorous and you can keep them in check.

Actinidia kolomikta is a superb climber, quite vigorous and grown for its decorative leaves which have cream and pink tips.

Akebia quinata is also knows as the Chocolate Vine. It has purlish brown flowers with a Vanilla scent.

Solanum ‘Glasnevin’ is a blue flowered, vigorous climber and is related to the potato. Its can get a bit too enthusiastic, but just chop it back regularly to keep it in check.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Andy Goldsworthy

I love the work of British artist/sculptor Andy Goldsworthy - his work harnesses and celebrates nature and is beautiful and inspirational. Take a look at this Web link and if you're not familiar with his work I guarantee you'll be a convert.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Case Study - Large Garden in Surrey - Update 7

The garden in Kenley, Surrey is really coming together now. Work on the left-hand terraces is completed – all the walls are constructed and faced with Purbeck stone and the black Limestone paving is laid. The corner terrace with the porthole in its rear wall and semi-circular raised bed is built. The lawn level patio is under construction and nearly complete.

The retaining wall in the lower garden level has been installed – the client opted for timber cribs as this was a less expensive and not as important to the overall look of the garden as it is not visible from the house and main garden. The bank leading down to this area will be stripped, re-graded and laid with new turf.

The newly designed rear wall of the garden is also nearly complete. This wall was not part of the original brief, but when the line of mature Cypress trees was removed it was decided not to re-instate them, but to keep the garden open. This left an old wall that needed re-building, so it was raised slightly to 450mm and faced with Purbeck stone. I also designed a semi-circular seat that is partly recessed into the wall. Either side of the seat two semi circular recesses curve back into the line of the wall and provide plinths which will house two antique statues. The existing pergola that runs along the top of this wall is being extended and given a coat of black paint.

We are just waiting for some of the structural work in the lower level to be completed then work can start on the terraces on the right hand side of the house leading up to the driveway.

Patio and terraces

Semi-Circular Seat

Timber Cribs

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A Relaxing Bank Holiday Weekend

Whilst everyone else appears to have been rushing off to the coast this weekend, I awarded myself an extra long weekend and stayed at home. My idea of a relaxing break doesn’t involve sitting in traffic for several hours then squeezing onto a beach with hundreds of other people. My chosen method of chilling out is (I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this) to spend time tootling around in my garden and on my allotment. Actually, there was less tootling and quite a lot of digging, weeding and planting.

On the allotment I dug over my tomato bed, yes I’m going to try some outdoor tomatoes again this year despite losing last the last two years’ crops to the dreaded tomato blight and swearing that I’d never do so again. I planted my three favourite varieties of tomato – Ferline (supposed to be blight resistant, but hasn’t worked so far), Sweet Olive (tiny plum tomatoes with a gorgeous flavour) and Marmande (a large, beefsteak tomato ideal for making sauces). I disinfected their canes with some dilute Jeyes fluid to ensure there were no blight spores on the canes from last year, gave them some manure and fish, blood and bone and crossed my fingers. They look bushy and healthy now, but its early days. I’m going to give them a spray with some copper sulphate in a couple of weeks just to give them the best possible chance of survival. I’m also growing all three varieties in my greenhouse just for backup, although outdoor tomatoes taste much nicer than ones grown in the greenhouse.

I also planted out my Gherkins – it’s the first time I’ve grown them, but my cucumbers are always a hit and I love pickled Gherkins so I decided to give them a try. One of the plants (which I raised in my greenhouse) already has some tiny fruits on it – very sweet! I planted two carrot varieties – Purple Haze (decorative and delicious) and Flyaway (carrot fly resistant) and just to be extra safe I planted a row of marigolds on either side of them to deter the carrot fly. I also planted a row of Parsnips – we don’t eat many Parsnips, but home grown ones are gorgeous. I planted two more rows of radishes and harvested my first bunch of both varieties – this year I’ve grown a round variety and also the French breakfast ones and they are fab!

In the front garden, I plugged some gaps in my herbaceous borders adding some Veronicastrum ‘Fascination’, Phlox ‘Velvet Flame’, and Aster frikartii ‘Monch’. I moved some Penstemmon ‘Raven’ which were in the way of my Paeonies, had a good old weed round and applied a top dressing of fish, blood and bone. In the back garden I planted some more Hemerocallis (purple and orange with a purple eye) in a space created by moving a Trachycarpus and had a sort out in the greenhouse. I potted up a new Acer and re-potted one that’s on my lower patio and not looking very happy. I put all my saved coffee grounds around my potted Hostas and it’s really done the trick – slugs 0, Linsey 1.

Forgot to take any pictures on the allotment, but here’s a photo looking up the garden and, yes, I am still waiting for the landscapers to come back and finish rendering the wall of my herb bed!