Archive for the ‘Inspirational Gardens’ Category
Posted by editor on Monday, 28 March 2011
Now is the very best time to get your plant supports into place. With growth on most perennials just starting, you can clearly see where the plants are and more easily get stakes or supports into position.
Of course, not just tall perennials – climbers, certain roses, even vegetables like broad and runner beans will need careful staking to avoid the plants collapsing as they grow in heavy rain and winds.
- Simple and relaxed – consider birch or hazel twiggy sticks, bendy and easy to twist around to create loose supports.
- Dramatic – tall supports like wigwams or tripods – use straight hazel sticks pushed firmly into the ground and tied at the top. Wrap wide mesh or twist soft twigs around the bottom half of the structure to give seedlings something to cling to as they grow.
- Metal structures – we prefer rusted metal, though in the right setting stainless steel can look very dramatic – metal can be formed into wonderful natural shapes mimicking seed heads or leaf structures, blending with the plant shapes themselves.
- Wooden structures - obelisks can look very good in more formal settings, often best painted in soft mid-tones.
- Arches and arbors – made from young living willow. Pushed firmly into the ground and watered in well, willow will root very easily to form a living structure. As it grows, twist and plait in the shoots to form a robust structure.
- Practical supports – simple grids made using bamboo canes are perfect for the cutting garden where practical considerations are more important than aesthetics.
We love creative and decorative supports – maybe hang small bits of mirror, glass or foil milk bottle tops from your structure to move and glitter gently with the wind. Paint bamboo canes or panels of wooden trellis in bright colours and use amongst the flowers in your cutting garden – or why not use rusted bed-springs to support your broad beans in the vegetable patch?!
The key thing is to let the support structures flow with your planting, give great thought to which material suits your planting, enjoy building your structures and be experimental.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 24 March 2011
Visit the delightful and inspiring Garden House garden on the afternoon of Sunday 27 March!
While an all-year-round opening is neither practical or desirable for smaller garden owners, the long running National Garden Scheme allows many proud gardeners the opportunity to show off their skills for a couple of days each year – and all for good causes.
The ‘Yellow Book’ Scheme, as it is known, was established in 1927 and so has a long history of people opening their gardens to the public. The scheme supports a variety of charities including Macmillan cancer care, Marie Curie nursing service and Perennial – the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society.
We will have plants, dahias and seeds for sale. Plus, of course, a range of delicious homemade cakes and refreshments!
Opening times: 1pm to 5pm. Come with a friend! You can also find out about the many workshops and courses that are on offer at The Garden House as well as meeting our hens and seeing the progress that we have made in the garden over the past year!
Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT
Posted by editor on Thursday, 24 February 2011
We’ve noted a huge shift in planting style in the past 15 years. Known variously as the ‘new perennials’ style, or as ‘prairie planting’ – a phrase that tends to conjure up a wide-open American landscape.
Yet the movement evolved in Europe, and has inspired many of today’s great garden designers, such as Piet Oudolf, and strongly influenced British garden design. It is now known as the Dutch Wave - a style of planting based on ecology, habitat planting and perennials – and a style that was originally inspired by German nurseryman, plant breeder and writer, Karl Foerster (1874-1940).
Foerster began his career studying under a famous landscape architect and botanist, Ludwig Winter, of Potsdam, Germany, and was revered for his promotion of ornamental grasses and perennials.
He created his own garden in Potsdam-Bornim in 1912. The garden was designed after Karl Foerster’s ideal: a place of beauty, joy and conciliation with nature, and made use of architectural plants and relaxed late-season perennials chosen for their form and structure rather than their colour.
Today this smallish but very special and influential garden – the size of a slightly larger than average suburban garden – is managed by Foerster’s daughter Marianne Foerster and is part of the UNSECO World Heritage Site Potsdam-Sanssouci.
NOTE: Join our four-day visit to Berlin, starting 17 July, to in search of great gardens and new experiences. Amongst other highlights, we’ll be visiting the Sanssouci Palace and gardens at Potsdam, and also the influential Karl Foerster Gardens. Check DIARY for more info.
Karl Foerster was also responsible for many of the plants we use today.
Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ - this very useful grass can be planted en masse to form a feathery screen or in small groups to add height and definition to a perennial border. Fast growing, fully hardy and tolerant of partial shade. Low in maintenance, it simply needs to be cut down to the ground in February. The wheat-coloured stems add drama and strong winter presence to the garden.
Also Molinia caerulea arundinacea Karl Foerster’ – a tall ‘moor grass’ – a tall cultivar with erect habit and wide open flower spikes held aloft in June, and mounds of green arching foliage turning bright yellow in the autumn.
In the 1940’s Foerster introduced his first Helenium ‘Kupfersprudel’ and over the next seventeen years his output was prolific and included Goldlackzwerg (1949), Rubinkuppel (1950), Zimbelstern (1956) and the lovely Konigstiger(1964).
There are many others of course – don’t you think it interesting to consider the heritage of our favourite plants? We look forward to finding out more on our visit to Berlin in July!
By the way, one of our favourite local ‘prairie gardens’ are the Sussex Prairy gardens near Henfield, West Sussex www.sussexprairies.co.uk
Posted by editor on Monday, 14 February 2011
We enjoyed fine weather and great company on our Garden House visit to Anglesey Abbey last Saturday. “Just to say thank you for a wonderful day out, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your organisation and hospitality is matchless. I am so glad I was able to come along!” Vicky D.
We love Angie B’s sketches of the winter garden, and Mandy D. wrote the following piece:
As winter slowly turns to spring no plant lover should miss the chance to visit the glorious winter display at Anglesey Abbey. Situated not far from Cambridge (not on the Island of Anglesey as most of my friends thought!) this National Trust property and gardens boasts one of the most beautiful and varied winter gardens I have ever seen.
A short walk from the Visitors Centre leads you to the start of the winter garden walk which, even if you did not notice the signs, can be found by following the intoxicating smell of the Sweet Box (Sarcococca), that line the first part of the walkway.
And that’s not all – for those Galanthophiles amongst you (snowdrop lovers to the rest of us!), the Abbey gardens boast over 200 varieties of snowdrop (Galanthus), some labelled and therefore identifiable along the main path and many others in gentle drifts that meander through the woodlands and other areas. My favourite was Galanthus plicatus ‘Hobsons Choice’ (wondered why I picked that one) and another variety named after Anglesey Abbey itself.
And finally, for stunning shrubs and trees, nothing can beat their display of Cornus – reds, greens and yellows – and the glade of Himalayan Birch (Betula utilis ‘jacquemontii’), with its ghostly white bark and statuesque structure, making all who came across them pause, reflect and for some, stay until the sun went down…
If you add to this a lovely sunny day, good company and even a rainbow on our return, it was the perfect day. Thanks weather fairy…
Anglesey Abbey: Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ / Tel. 01223 810080
Posted by editor on Sunday, 2 January 2011
Galanthus is a small genus of about 19 species of bulb commonly found throughout Europe and western Asia in upland woodland and rocky sites. Galanthus bloom mainly from late winter to mid-spring, though in their natural habitat they often flower just as the snow is starting to melt.
The name Galanthus is derived from the Greek words gala, meaning milk, and anthos, meaning flower, in allusion to the colour of the flowers. The plants are more commonly known as ‘snowdrops’, from the German Schneetropfen – this common name refers to a style of earring popular in the 16th and 17th centuries in Germany.
One of the best and boldest of the snowdrops, with rounded bell-shaped scented flowers, is variety ‘S.Arnott’ – a favourite of ours!
- Family: Amaryllidaceae
- Height & spread: 15cm (6in) x 8cm (3in)
- Form: Bulbous perennial
- Soil: Moist but well-drained, moderately fertile
- Aspect: Cool shade
- Hardiness: Fully hardy
This snowdrop is vigorous, with narrow, grey-green leaves 7-16cm (3-6in) long. It has large white flowers, which have an inverted V-shaped green mark at the tip of each inner tepal. They are 2.5-3.5cm (1-1.5in) long, strongly honey-scented and are produced in winter and early spring. They look wonderful planted with dark-leaved plants, like Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ or with bright yellow winter aconites, or carpeting the woodland floor under a flowering witch hazel.
Cultivation: Snowdrops grow well in cool shade in any humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil that does not dry out in summer.
They are prone to narcissus bulb fly, which will tunnel into the bulbs and destroy them, and also grey mould (botrytis), which will appear on the leaves but then rot the bulbs.
Propagation: Sow seed as soon as ripe in containers in an open frame, though as Galanthus species readily hybridise the seed may not come true.
Propagate by twin scaling in summer. With this technique a bulb is cut into pairs of scales, each of which produces bulblets.
Lift and divide clumps of Galanthus “in the green”, as soon as the leaves begin to die back after flowering. Replant each bulb individually, at the same level as before, in holes sufficiently wide to spread out the roots.
When all else is bare, it lifts the spirits when you spot patches of snowdrops appearing under shrubs and trees…
If you want to see many, many varieties of Galanthus growing wild (including many rare varieties) – join us on 12 February for an early spring visit to the stunning gardens of Anglesey Abbey. Truly a garden for all seasons – but particularly beautiful in February when it is at it’s most spectacular, and drifts of white snowdrops and yellow aconites add colour to the frosty landscape (details in the DIARY on this website)…
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 30 November 2010
“If Dixter always remains loved and retains its own identity, everything else will fall into place.” Christopher Lloyd, January 2006
The incredible spirit of this wonderful garden still lives on and is a testament to the words of the great horticulturalist Christopher Lloyd who lived and gardened at Great Dixter all his life, leaving the estate to The Great Dixter Trust on his death in 2006.
Great Dixter is a Tudor house bought in 1910 by Nathaniel Lloyd, father of Christopher and author of books on brickwork and topiary, and was restored by Edwin Lutyens. Nathaniel designed the framework of the garden and it was initially planted by Daisy Lloyd, Christopher’s mother, who taught Christopher how to garden.
The house is surrounded by the now world-famous garden that was Christopher Lloyd’s lifelong passion; his influence since the war on amateur gardeners in this country can scarcely be overestimated. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants, together with a love of form and colour – and together with his great strength of trying something new Great Dixter was always evolving, always fresh.
In 1996 he became bored with his rose garden, which had been designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and established for more than 70 years, he simply uprooted it. The replacement, a brazen kaleidoscope of sub-tropical plants, sent shock waves through the gardening world.
It is the most inspirational garden, clearly loved and still gardened by Fergus Garrett who was Christopher Lloyd’s head gardener, and who continues as the garden’s creative head.
Yesterday on a cold November day the late autumn structure was astonishing – the yew hedges and topiary, grasses, trees and shrubs looking beautiful in the low November light.
The fires burning in the grates were welcoming – doubtless the timber in the great hall could tell a thousand stories, Christopher Lloyd was alive today I think he would have been delighted to see his extraordinary home filled with people having fun and enjoying the spirit of Great Dixter.
For a great read try: Colour for Adventurous Gardeners; The Well-Tempered Garden; or Cuttings (a collection of writings for the Guardian) – all by Christopher Lloyd.
See the website www.greatdixter.co.uk for events, opening times, and admission costs and location (if you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll be first to hear what’s upcoming!)…
Christopher Lloyd – “The right time to do a job is when you are in the mood to do it.” What wise words!
Posted by editor on Thursday, 7 October 2010
We’re in South Africa with a group of Garden House friends and enthusiasts travelling around the Western Cape area, visiting the wildflower fields of Namaqualand and touching on many of the other flora and fauna, sights and scenes that this extraordinary area has to offer.
Later today we’ll be visiting the world famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens just outside Cape Town. We will be guided by specialist Val Thompson – and come rain or shine, I’m sure we’ll all be filling yet more memory cards with amazing photos!
On our return we’ll be updating you further on our journeys…so look out for further Garden House in South Africa tales over the next few weeks!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 26 September 2010
We love autumn! It’s always hard to choose between the joy of new growth in spring, the pleasure of a warm summer (if we’re lucky!), and the season of greatest change – autumn…
Autumn smells different, it looks stunning (I’m thinking the drama of leaf colour change), and it’s time for wrapping up warm and putting the garden to bed. But of course, nothing stops, we’re also thinking ahead – forcing bulbs to flower at Christmas, propagating our favourite plants, sowing hardy annuals, and planting bulbs and new plants whilst the soil is still warm.
At The Garden House we have some great autumn workshops and visits coming up.
On Wednesday 20 October, a visit by coach to Sheffield Park and Garden to savor the stunning colour change as the many rare trees and shrubs turn yellow, gold and red…(10am to 3pm / £25 pp for National Trust members and £34 pp for non-NT members).
Then on Friday 22 October we have two events:
- Firstly, The Garden House will be open from 3pm to 6pm. Do come along with a friend – we’re offering FREE demonstrations on seasonal tasks like propagation and bulb-planting, with useful hand-outs to take away with you – and we’ll have a variety of bulbs for sale, also tea or coffee and homemade cake for sale (£4.50 pp).
- Following that, in the evening, one of our favourite local artists, Jo Sweeting, is holding a pumpkin carving workshop (6.30pm-9.15pm / £42 pp, or £40 each for two people booking together – supper and wine included). This will be a brilliant evening – Jo is an amazing sculptor, working more typically in stone – and her carved pumpkins are just so different and inspiring!
All the details of these and other great autumn/winter workshops and courses are in our DIARY…check it out!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 25 July 2010
Yesterday local artist and teacher Debbie Hovell lead a workshop in pen and ink drawing using the garden as inspiration.
Debbie took us through a range of inspirational works, from Beatrix Potter to Henry Moore, showing how different techniques suit different subjects or moods, and how different effects can be achieved by using a variety of pens.
The day reminded me just how important it is to slow down and enjoy our garden spaces. Most activity centres around digging, weeding, pruning, watering – and so many gardeners I know say they hardly ever, or indeed never, actually relax and enjoy their garden.
But at any time of year it’s equally important to just sit and review, or capture the moment in ink, paint or on camera – so take a tip from us – summer’s here, slow down, put your feet up, and enjoy…
Posted by editor on Friday, 9 July 2010
The Garden House is once again opening its garden gate in aid of a local charity – this year we are raising funds for RISE (Refuge, Information, Support, Education), a local charity supporting women, children and young people affected by domestic abuse.
Join us for a brilliant afternoon! There will be stalls selling all sorts – including garden tools, jewellery, home made gifts, culinary delights, and a multitude of gardening items.
Tea and cakes will be on sale too, and we have our Grand Auction at 4pm! Auction prizes include:
- One week in a villa on Fuerteventura
- Large abstract painting by Sussex artist Bobby Boud
- Deckchair with customized patchwork seat
- Photo session in a local studio
- Patchwork quilt
- Coffee machine and coffee set
- Two complementary planted containers
- Voucher for a hair cut in a local salon
- Bridgette’s Friday gardeners – working in your garden for one day!
- And many other items, including ‘ingredients for a screaming orgasm’ (don’t ask!)…
Entrance fee: £2 per adult
We are also holding a Garden Dinner Party, which starts at 7pm. Why not book a table with friends? The cost of the dinner will be £20 for a delicious three-course meal and a glass of wine (we will have wine available for donation should you need extra!) – and during dinner we’ll be serenaded by live band Vinyl Riff!
- Starters: roasted Piedmont peppers, OR mushroom, sherry and walnut pate, OR watermelon and goat’s cheese salad
- Main course: organic Cheddar, zucchini and roasted red onion quiche, OR Malaysian fish curry, OR tortilla with fried beans served with guacamole and salsa
- Dessert: free-range homemade meringue nests with summer fruits, OR chocolate brandy refrigerator cake, OR fresh fruit platter
Contact us for more info: 01273 702840 / 0778 8668595 / email@example.com
Please come and bring your friends and help us to raise some money for this hugely worthwhile cause – thank you, and hope to see you then!
Posted by editor on Friday, 2 July 2010
As part of The Garden House Plant School we spent Wednesday evening at the quite gorgeous Marchants Hardy Plants, Laughton, in the knowledgeable company of proprietor and plantsman Graham Gough and his partner Lucy Goffin.
Following a short career in classical music as a gifted tenor, Graham’s love of plants was re-awoken by a cathartic trip to Sissinghurst Castle in Kent where his eyes were opened to the artistic and creative process of gardening at its highest level; Lucy is a textile artist. It is palpably apparent that creativity flows through their fingertips – everything in the garden and nursery is beautifully considered, immaculately laid out and personally attended come rain or shine.
What Graham doesn’t know and feel about plants seems hardly worth knowing. He is one of a small group of passionate plantsmen and women, always exploring, propagating, exchanging ideas – citing amongst others the late Christopher Lloyd, plantswoman Marina Christopher, and writer Noel Kingsbury as friends. His passion and creativity has created a unique nursery, one where you can guarantee finding that special ‘must have’ cultivar, where you know you’ll be inspired…
At the end of a long day, glass of wine in hand, he walked us around his garden highlighting key plants, indicating where planting has worked brilliantly and where it has not (rare!), infecting us with his philosophy and enthusiasm.
“At Marchants, the nursery drifts almost imperceptibly into Gough’s rich, dramatic sweeps of herbaceous planting: sanguisorbas, daylilies, masses of grasses, achilleas, dark agapanthus…” Anna Pavord, The Independent Magazine.
For Graham gardening and creating the nursery is the best therapy one can get. He tries not to go with the trends, but takes a more subjective view, relying on intuition. He advocates “going it alone, keep your eyes open, and make personal choices”.
Key messages from the evening:
- In a small space you have to be selective; achieve a visual calmness by narrowing the number of plant types used
- Find peace in clear spaces; a simple water feature with little around it, creates a sense of sanctuary
- For colour inspiration look to 20thC paintings
- Set aside an area of the garden where you can ‘play’, doing something different each year, trying new plants
Marchants Hardy Plants, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ
Tel/fax: 01323 811737 www.marchantshardyplants.co.uk (check website for opening times)
Posted by editor on Monday, 28 June 2010
Taken from the writings of our London friends at The Women’s Room blog: www.thewomensroom.typepad.com/the_womens_room/
I don’t go to therapy, instead I garden. It keeps me calm, I can work through all my issues and have imaginary arguments in the greenhouse where no one can hear me and I always win. The plants respond well to the attention and there are weeks when I spend more time nurturing my seedlings than my family.
The other advantage of gardening is meeting other gardeners, who are all too willing to share their interest in growing things and often give you stuff, in the form of cuttings and bits of leaf to identify. This weekend we went to the Garden Gadabout in a very sunny Brighton where we met some fabulous enthusiasts eager to share their green spaces.
We saw a number of interesting trends…..
- The new shed - everyone’s got a fancy room-in-the-garden shed, with sofas/internet connection/curtains
- Vegetables in raised beds – everywhere but everywhere
- Potatoes in bags/containers – apparently easy and prolific
- Beech sticks as wigwams for climbers (prettier than bamboo)
- Chickens – who have their own fancy coups if they’re lucky
- Seating areas – loads of them everywhere
- Recycled boxes/tins/sacks are the new pots
- Mosaics – from small to complex, black and white or multi coloured
- Creating your own seed packets and hand drawing the floral fronts
- Cakes – it seems all gardeners can cook cakes and make excellent lemonade
Here are some of the photos taken this weekend…
…and don’t forget the Garden Gadabout (private gardens opening in aid of the charity Susssex Beacon) is happening again weekend 3rd/4th July.
Note from GG coordinator Bridgette Saunders: “As usual The Sussex Beacon’s garden will be opening Saturday 3rd July. Come and visit us and see the changes that have taken place. You’ll receive a warm welcome and have the opportunity to visit the gardens of this unique centre. There will be stalls, a tombola and of course cream teas to buy and enjoy whilst relaxing in tranquil surroundings. All the funds raised from The Garden Gadabout come directly to The Sussex Beacon.”
Check their website for details www.gardengadabout.org.uk
Posted by editor on Monday, 14 June 2010
Opening one’s personal space to visiting gardening enthusiasts is a tense business, like baring your soul for all to see. We’re really not sure why we do it – it’s an emotionally rocky time – one moment you’re revelling in a little admiration, then appalled when someone notices the empty petunias box from B&Q shoved into a forgotten corner (we only bought them at the eleventh hour to plug a gap for heaven’s sake!)…
Of course when the wellie’s on the other foot – nothing gives us more pleasure than exploring someone else’s garden, loved and nurtured over many years, or newly created and full of potential and exciting ideas…
If you possibly can, keep the weekends of 26/27 June and 3/4 July free – two weekends when over sixty beautiful private gardens and community spaces will be opening their gates for this year’s Sussex Beacon Garden Gadabout. Many are in Brighton and Hove – but also as far afield as Lewes, the village of Rodmell, and to the east, Peacehaven and Seaford.
There are an extraordinary variety of outdoor spaces to enjoy. New gardens join the best from last year – visit overflowing allotments, community spaces, shady nooks and courtyard gardens, large expansive gardens, gardens where creativity is key, and gardens where plants come first – all hidden gems waiting to be explored…
Many offer delicious homemade cakes and refreshments, plants for sale, jams and honey – even sales of local artworks.
So whether you’re an experienced gardener, keen novice, or simply want to come along to see what your neighbours have done with a space similar to your own – check the website, look out for the free booklet, and start planning your trails! www.gardengadabout.org.uk
All proceeds from the weekends go to the Sussex Beacon, a unique centre providing innovative services to meet the changing needs of men and women living with HIV. www.sussexbeacon.org.uk
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Our garden here at The Garden House is run on organic and recycling principles. So we love and admire gardens created to promote similar ideals.
At the Chelsea Flower Show last week one of our favourite gardens was Places of Change, brought together by the Eden Project in partnership with the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Homeless Link.
Up to 50 homelessness charities took part, contributing to Eden’s second year at Chelsea, with more than 75 people working on the site at a time. All received vocational training in woodwork, planting and other horticultural skills that they can use to get employment in the future.
It featured five designated zones: crops and food; floristry and leisure; medicine and health; industry and manufacture – a metaphor for the hidden treasures that lie within communities and the most unexpected places.
The eclectic design included a greenhouse made using recycled bottles, plants grown in hostels around the country, trees donated from cemeteries in East London and sculptures made from old washing machines.
Another favourite garden run on recycling principles is a “pop up” community garden in Lewes (run by a group of local artists and gardeners – one of whom is our Garden House friend, Ella!). Here abandoned packing cases are reused as raised vegetable beds, and living willow woven into hideaways, thick fencing – and even a sofa!
Find this exciting and creative “guerilla” garden at the Old Fire Station, North Street, Lewes BN7 2PL. It will be open the weekend of 3rd/4th July as part of the Garden Gadabout - the open garden scheme that’s been running for over fifteen years in support of Sussex-based charity The Sussex Beacon (it started with a few supporters opening their gardens in Brighton to last year an event where over 70 gardens threw open their garden gates).
Garden Gadabout open gardens are spread far and wide from Shoreham to Lewes and everywhere in between. Do make time to visit this and other gardens. Small or large – all are inspirational, creative - and real!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 29 May 2010
Brighton-based designer Andy Sturgeon won both gold and Best in Show Garden at CFS with his contemporary gravel garden. A wonderful and adventurous garden in many respects – the free-standing rusted steel structures framing stunning planting. Our eyes were particularly drawn to three large dramatic bowls of bronze coloured irises (Iris ‘Action Front’).
We also loved the stunning display put on by Cayeux, the French Iris specialists. The logistics of exhibiting at Chelsea Flower Show were quite a challenge for Cayeux – their nursery in France has no poly tunnels, all irises being grown in 55 acres of open fields. Thus the plants shown at Chelsea were grown in England by the nursery Iris of Sissinghurst, in pots from rhizomes sent over in August 2009 from the Cayeux fields in France. www.iris-cayeux.com
Irises are well suited to dry, hot conditions. The following planting/care info is taken from the Cayeux website:
- When to plant: July to mid-October. It is important that the roots of newly planted Irises are well established before winter.
- Where to plant: In full sun – Irises need sun at least two thirds of the day. The soil must have very good drainage. Plant either on a slope or in raised beds. No water should be allowed to stand in iris beds.
- Soil preparation: If your soil is heavy, coarse sand or humus may be added to improve drainage. Lime is also good to improve clay soils. The ideal pH is 7 (neutral), but irises are tolerant in this regard. Remove all the weeds before planting.
- Distance apart: Plant 30 to 40 cm apart. Closer planting will give an immediate effect, but the irises will need to be thinned often.
- Depth to plant: Irises must be planted so that the tops of the rhizomes are exposed and the roots are spread out facing downward in the soil. Just after planting, water to pack down the soil around the roots.
- Watering: Newly set plants need moisture to help their root system become established. Once established, irises do not need to be watered except in arid areas and it is always better to under-water than over-water. TOO MUCH WATER CAN INDUCE ROT.
- Dividing old clumps: Irises must be divided every 3 to 5 years before they become overcrowded and begin to flower less. Thin by removing the old divisions at the centre of the clumps and leaving new growth in the ground. Alternatively, dig up the entire clump and remove and replant the big new rhizomes.
- Feeding: Depends on your soil type but bone meal, superphosphate or 5-10-15, or 6-8-12 are effective. Feed once in early spring and then one month after flowering. AVOID USING FERTILIZERS HIGH IN NITROGEN, IT ENCOURAGES ROT PROBLEMS.
- About the foliage: During the growing season healthy green leaves should be left undisturbed, but diseased or brown leaves must be removed. In the late autumn, trim off old dying foliage and cut the leaves back to about 15 cm. Flower stems should be cut off close to the ground after blooming.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 20 May 2010
Visit the delightful Houghton Lodge gardens with The Garden House! On Wednesday 23 June we’ve a great day planned – visiting Mottisfont Abbey to see the collection of old-fashioned roses, and Houghton Lodge to see the inspirational garden.
Houghton Lodge is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful privately owned houses and gardens in Hampshire. The house is a picturesque late 18th Century Grade 2 listed gothic cottage orné, idyllically set above the tranquil waters of the River Test. It is set in extensive grounds, with fine trees and lawns sweeping down to the banks of the river.
The garden is described by Tamsin Westhorpe, editor of The English Garden as “one of the most romantic gardens I have ever experienced” and offers a myriad of charms as inspiration for the gardener. There is a fully restored chalk cob walled kitchen garden with greenhouses run on hydroponic principles (thus using less water and space) – also a long herbaceous border, orchid house, topiary parterre and a lovely wildflower meadow leading down to the river.
In late June the roses and peonies will both be in full blossom and should be looking wonderful. www.houghtonlodge.co.uk
For more information on this delightful visit, or to book, go to DIARY on this website.
Posted by editor on Saturday, 8 May 2010
Visit Lindy’s house at 31 Preston Park Avenue, Brighton, and enjoy the work of several artists creating decorative and functional outdoor artwork and sculpture. Lindy’s house is an artwork in itself – an inspiring tapestry of colour, pattern, decorative home accessories and antique chinaware – even her garden steps are painted brilliant fuschia pink!
Amongst a group of textile artists, ceramicists, painters, mosaicists and jewellers, Lindy also shows the work of several artists whose work adorns the outside space. Chris Murphy makes ceramic bird houses, feeders and ornamental garden conicals, Jo Brook makes ceramic garden pots and birdbaths, and Sue Samways makes mosaic lawn dials and garden tables.
Decorative garden ironwork is made by Steven Betridge (wonderful for clambering Clematis), and deckchairs customized with patchworked fabrics are made by Lindy Craig-Hall herself (wonderful for lounging!).
Special note: Jewellery-maker Val Shore is also showing at Lindy’s – Val will be leading a jewellery-making workshop at The Garden House on the evening of 14 June. Check the DIARY on this website for details.
Address: Lindy Craig-Hall, 31 Preston Park Avenue, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 6HG
Open: Weekends of 8 & 9 May, 15 & 16 May and 22 & 23 May (11am to 5pm).
Posted by editor on Friday, 2 April 2010
“Dig it up and throw it away” was the title of a talk given by the much-admired gardener Helen Dillon at last Sunday’s Hardy Plant Society (Sussex Group) meeting.
Drawing on over thirty-five years’ experience in her Dublin garden, Helen amused the audience greatly with her tales of plants that simply wouldn’t behave as she wanted or perform as she wished! “Love, nurture, let go” is her philosophy.
Her illustrated talk encompassed many aspects of gardening that ring true for us all. She is a most impressive plantswoman, yet she also completely understands the issues, angst and frustrations we experience in our own gardens.
Helen’s ideas could be considered a little left field (we love that!). Refreshingly she’s all for rethinking the expected, happy to make room for new ideas…
- Having grown tired of the huge box balls cornering her borders, Helen boldly sliced off the tops like boiled eggs and scooped out the centres – creating box bowls instead.
- Helen uses dustbins to great effect – filled with tulips, cannas and verbenas, or runner beans!
- She ties her plant labels to the looped ends of wire coat-hangers – a great idea, we loved that one.
Helen talked of some of her favourite plants – Bengal Crimson Rose (R. chinensis var. sanguinea), Isoplexis sceptrum (a spectacular evergreen shrub, native to Madeira), Bergenia purpurascens (“the only plant I ever stole” she told us) – amongst many many others.
We’re currently re-reading Helen Dillon’s GARDEN Book (ISBN: 978-0-7112-2710-1). It’s so typically Helen, a book divided into thoughts rather than chapters – Sitting in the garden, Why did it die?, Plants worth searching for, Hiding the neighbours, Scent, Burglar-proof plants – and so on. Delightful.
NOTE: At The Garden House we are great fans of The Hardy Plant Society – it exists to inform and encourage the novice gardener, stimulate and enlighten the more knowledgeable, and entertain and enthuse all gardeners bonded by a love for, and an interest in, hardy perennial plants. If you are interested in finding out more visit www.hardy-plant.org.uk/
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 10 March 2010
“Rushes are round, sedges have edges, and grasses are glorious”. So said expert grower Monica Lewis at last Saturday’s Garden House workshop!
Enthusiastic and hugely knowledgeable, Monica talked the group through the seemingly endless and largely irresistible variations. So, why grasses?
Grasses are versatile, an almost essential component in any modern planting scheme. They rustle delicately in the wind (the larger the leaf the more noise they make) and change colour according to season, light levels, sun and shade, rain or frost. They can be used as hedging, as low-level edging for pathways or beds – they can be planted as ribbons through beds to give visual continuity, or used to create a stunning backdrop for contrasting perennial planting. Some are evergreen, some deciduous. Many grow well in containers.
There are also annual grasses, easily grown from seed, which mix beautifully with hardy annuals in the cutting garden.
The last ten years has seen grasses return to fashion in a big way. Naturalistic prairie-style planting – developed in Germany, Holland (think Piet Oudolf) and North America – sees blocks of tall grasses and statuesque perennials mingled together to form flowing borders of late-flowering colour.
To see this style of planting at close-hand, visit the stunning 6-acre Sussex Prairie garden near Henfield, Sussex (featured on this website 24.11.2009). Here the large borders, planted by owners Paul and Pauline McBride, combine perennials with huge drifts of ornamental grasses, including varieties of Miscanthus, Panicums, Molinias, Sporobolis and Penisetum. For open days check www.sussexprairies.co.uk
Monica Lucas talks about ‘cool growers’ and ‘warm growers’. Cool growers flower in late spring and early summer (propagate in spring and autumn), whilst warm growers flower in summer and autumn, keeping most of their dried flowers all winter until broken down by the weather (propagate in spring and early summer).
In general grasses need a free-draining moisture-retentive soil – and whilst there are always exceptions to the ‘rules’, and many other options, Monica suggests the following:
- Koeleria glauca
- Melica ciliata
Grasses for clay:
- Calamagrostis x acutiflora cvs.
- Deschampsia caespitose cvs.
- Elymus glaucus
- Phalaris arundinaria cvs.
- Briza media
- Calamagrostis acutiflora Karl Foerster
- Calamagrostis brachytricha
- Carex (most cultivars)
- Deschampsia caespitose cvs.
- Hackenochloa macra cvs.
- Milium effusem aureum
- Miscanthus sinensis purpureus
- Molinia caerulea (all cultivars)
- Stipa arundinaria
Key learnings from the workshop:
- For long term container planting, use ½ John Innes soil-based potting compost No2, ½ soil-less compost, a good deal of ½” grit for drainage, and a controlled release fertilizer (such as Osmacote).
- Don’t over-feed (they won’t flower well) – grasses prefer a low-nitrogen soil – so go easy on the chicken pellets or manure, in preference use well-rotted garden compost.
- If you like a plant, but are unsure if it will grow on your soil, buy three and plant them in various locations in the garden. Wherever they grow best, transfer the others – they will have found their home!
- Propagation involves digging out the plant and setting to (carefully!) with a variety of knives, saws, or even an axe, to cut the root ball into small sections ready to pot up for a few weeks before planting out.
- Use a wide-toothed comb to ‘preen’ (not ‘prune’) evergreen grasses – combing out the dead stalks to clear space for new growth.
When pressed Monica told us her personal favourite is Miscanthus Nepalensis – common name: Himalayan fairy grass!
Posted by editor on Friday, 5 March 2010
The Garden House is taking a spring trip to the wonderful Beth Chatto gardens at Colchester, Essex, on 17 April. It is so beautifully planted, and was such a rewarding experience when we went a few years ago in February, that we wanted to offer a trip to see the gardens at a different time of year.
Beth Chatto’s innovative style has transformed the “wilderness” (her words), that she and her husband were faced with in 1960, into one of the most inspirational gardens in England. Perhaps it is the gravel garden which is most famous, planted with drought resistant plants and reflecting the mantra we should all follow, ‘right plant, right place’. This area in Essex has one of the lowest rainfalls in the country, but here in the south we have also experienced tremendous droughts and seeing the plants Beth Chatto uses in her garden can guide and inspire us for our own gardens. The nursery is well-stocked, fabulous and not expensive.
As well as the gravel garden, created from the former car park, the rest of the gardens are magical. The garden has both dry and damp areas, sunny and shady – these challenges, plus her eye for design and colour have resulted in an exceptional visual harmony.
We are leaving Brighton quite early, 9am by coach, and plan to be back in Brighton by 6.30pm. The cost is £42, two people booking together is £70, so do bring a friend along! We will offer refreshments on the coach, and there is a good cafe at the Gardens, or if you prefer, do bring a packed lunch.
For booking form, go to our Diary list, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by editor on Saturday, 27 February 2010
Having been on a visit to RHS Wisley last week with The Garden House I decided it was so amazing that I visited again this week, this time with my father (who is nearly 90) in tow.
RHS Wisley has such a wealth of information and this time – only a week later , there were different things to see and new plants emerging , despite the dreadful weather!
The alpines were certainly one of the stars of the show and they are a group of plants that I for one tend to forget about – an alpine is mainly grown between the tree line and the line of permanent snow and the conditions they have adapted to are many; altitude, cold, wind, free draining soil, poor soil and also a short growing season.
It is because of these conditions that they tend to be low growing and have leaves that have adapted to reduce moisture loss, so consequently the leaves are often small, rolled up, hairy or succulent. Some are evergreens which reduces the amount of growth they have to make each season.
Alpines are associated with rockeries, this is an attempt to recreate their natural environment but Wisley have them growing in the alpine houses , this is so they keep dry. They really dislike poorly drained soil and damp conditions.
RHS Wisley also has a wonderful educational value – the labelling is fantastic and seeing so many young children really enjoying themselves in the glasshouse was very hopeful – budding horticulturalists!
Do pay Wisley a visit – anytime of year there is so much to see – whatever your age!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 20 February 2010
We had a great visit to RHS Wisley last Saturday and were delighted with some very positive feedback from those of you who joined us.
“Thanks for a lovely trip. You guys have a knack of making everyone feel so welcome…”
Wisley is the RHS’s flagship garden, and within its 200 acres it is possible to find plants suitable for almost every UK garden situation, irrespective of size, soil or location. We focused on winter interest – whether in use of evergreens, coloured stems and barks, fragrance and winter flowering shrubs, perennials and bulbs. It is always surprising how much beauty there is on a chilly, rather dull, February afternoon. Being such a cold winter many of the plants were late in their display, so we would highly recommend a visit in the near future.
The Salix alba ‘Golden Ness’, Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ welcomed us on arrival, and walking round the gardens we saw wonderful Hamamelis, and Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’, and lots of snowdrops. It was bitterly cold and so to dive into the Glasshouse and spend time warming up while discovering this wonderfully tranquil paradise where exotic butterflies take flight among the plants was exceptional. It certainly whetted our appetites for plants we may see in South Africa in October on our Garden House Tour. Do join us! The tropical plants were extraordinary and we imagined what they will look like in their native surroundings.
Coming up: On April 17th we have organized a coach trip to Beth Chatto’s garden, details will be on the website soon; and on June 23rd we are visiting Mottisfont Abbey, where our main focus of interest will be the walled garden, home to their national collection of old-fashioned roses.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 18 February 2010
Join us on our visit to South Africa, 1-10 October 2010. Spring – when the Cape is covered with field upon field of flowers in bloom – is a wonderful time for gardening enthusiasts to visit…
Key aspects of the visit are highlighted below, for full details: email@example.com
- Ten-day trip
- Direct flights to Cape Town (overnight)
- Four nights at The Vineyard Hotel & Spa (www.vineyard.co.za a beautiful hotel set in its own glorious gardens)
- One night at the Paternoster Lodge (www.paternoster-lodge.co.za)
- One night staying at Clanwilliam, staying at St DuBarrys Guest House or Clanwilliam Lodge
- Two nights at the Aquila Private Game Reserve (www.aquilasafari.com)
Travelling at all times with horticulture specialists, and an experienced and registered local guide.
We will also have a specialist field guide walking us through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
- Cape Town orientation tour – includes cable car to Table Top Mountain, District Six and Museum, Company Gardens
- Peninsula tour – includes a guided tour of the stunning Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
- Winelands tour – includes a visit to KWV Emporium for a cellar tour and tastings!
- Community tour of the Cape Flats – visiting the community food gardens at Langa Township
- Drive up the West Coast through Namaqualand’s amazing wildflower fields, to visit the West Coast National Park
- Visit to Elandberg Eco Reserve for a Rooibos Tea Tour
- Visit the Rock Art trails and the Wine Estate in the Matzikamma
- Evening game drive at Aquila Private Game Reserve
- Morning game drive at Aquila Private Game Reserve
Just a brief summary of this exciting Garden House tour, 1-10 October 2010. Contact us for the full details firstname.lastname@example.org . All costs are included, bar a few meal times when you are free to wander and make your own local choices.
We do hope you’ll be inspired to join us!
Article image by Daan Loth - Image © DaanL aka Daan Loth 2009
Posted by editor on Saturday, 30 January 2010
The Garden House has arranged to take a group of gardening enthusiasts to South Africa in October. We are so looking forward to this trip! It will be South Africa’s spring season, when the Cape will be covered with field upon field of flowers in bloom.
Arriving in Cape Town (South African Airways, direct flight from Heathrow), the group will stay at The Vineyard Hotel & Spa for four nights (www.vineyard.co.za a beautiful hotel set in its own glorious gardens).
Our first view of this amazing country will be from the top of Table Mountain (by cable car of course!), part of a half-day city orientation tour.
The next day we take a guided visit to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens (www.sanbi.org), world-renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora it displays and for the magnificence of its setting against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. This is the most beautiful time of year – when the whole garden is alive with colour as fields of Namaqualand annuals and spring bulbs burst into flower.
Whilst based in Cape Town we will also take a Winelands tour (tasting the local vintages of course!), and visit the Langa Township.
Our tour of Langa includes private gardens, and the inspiring community food gardens. The Abalimi Bezakhaya project teaches sustainable living, supplying locals with trees and shrubs to green their areas, and encouraging people to grow their own food.
We then leave the Cape travelling up the West Coast visiting Weylandts and the Tienie Versveld Wildflower Reserves, then on to the West Coast National Park and Postberg Nature Reserve – all the while taking in the stunning coastline and fields of wildflowers.
Our next base is Paternoster Lodge (www.paternoster-lodge.co.za). From here we visit Elandberg Eco Reserve for a Rooibos Tea Tour – with the added bonus of trying out a variety of refreshing Rooibos teas in the farm house, hosted by the farmer’s wife! We then drive on to Lutzville to meet Wynand, our specialist wildflower guide who will take us to his favourite flower spots, the Rock Art Trail, and show us around the wine estate at Matzikamma.
From there, on to the Aquila Private Game Reserve (www.aquilasafari.com) our base for the last two nights of our trip. Here we’ll enjoy an evening game drive, and the following day, a morning game drive – a fantastic opportunity to observe South Africa’s amazing wildlife up close.
So, just a brief summary of this exciting Garden House tour. Contact us for the full details email@example.com . All costs are included, bar a few meal times when you are free to wander and make your own local choices. We do hope you’ll be inspired to join us!
Posted by editor on Friday, 22 January 2010
I was so pleased to read Elspeth’s Thompson’s article in last Sunday’s Telegraph (14 January www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening) extolling the joys of visiting RHS Wisley in the winter time, it chimes so perfectly with our planned visit on 13 February, when we are taking a group on a guided tour around the gardens.
For her it’s the best time to visit, to appreciate the Piet Oudolf borders, plus the variety of winter flowering plants, especially the Hamamelis (witch hazels). We find it a great garden for inspiration for one’s own garden, particularly as all the plants are meticulously labelled.
Do join us if you can (check the Diary column for details). Driving there on one’s own can be rather gruelling along the M23 and M25, and so much easier in a coach!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 10 January 2010
Pretty though the garden is under a layer of fresh snow, aren’t you just panicking about your plants?! Wondering whether they’ll recover, whether the border-line tender plants you never got around to protecting will survive – in fact wondering if you should get out there and do something about it!
Well the first thing we should do is look after the birds as they struggle to find food. Remember, these same birds will help you by eating grubs and insects when it’s warmer, so why not help them when it’s colder.
Fat balls and fat cakes are good for a range of birds. Seed mixes work well for blackbirds, starlings and sparrows, while peanuts and pieces of dried coconut will suit nearly all small birds in the garden in winter. Remember also that birds need water, so break the ice on your bird-bath or pour on hot water to defrost.
This winter we have watched as weeks of seemingly endless rainfall was followed by two bouts of snowy weather and heavy frosts. Now snow may seem bad but one small benefit is that snow acts as an insulator, protecting plants from the cold and frost.
Nonetheless some damage limitation is sensible. Brush off snow from the branches of large trees, shrubs and hedges. By doing this you will help prevent them from becoming disfigured by the weight. Clear snow from the roofs of greenhouses or cold frames so that light can get through and so that the weight will not damage the structure.
Try not to walk on the grass. Walking on snow-covered grass can cause damage to the turf beneath and leave unsightly marks on the lawn, and can also encourage the growth of fungal diseases which thrive in the cool damp conditions.
Finally – just enjoy the sheer beauty of your snowy gardenscape – take some photos and make a note in your September diary to have your own Christmas cards printed!
By the way – these photos of The Garden House were taken by our friend, professional photographer Alex Stryczko!
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Today we visited the 6-acre Sussex Prairie garden near Henfield – www.sussexprairies.co.uk – absolutely inspirational if you love late-flowering perennials. Here the large borders have been planted in a free-flowing naturalistic style by owners Paul and Pauline McBride. The garden is sited on a farm and despite this being a relatively new garden, it’s maturity and connection with the the wider landscape is just sublime. A real advantage to using perennials: they mature and fill the space quickly, creating impact in a relatively short time.
The garden features many unusual varieties of herbaceous perennials – Veronicastrums, Thalictrums, Persicarias, Sanguisorbas, Kniphofias and Hemerocallis. Plus huge drifts of ornamental grasses and Asters, and many varieties of Miscanthus, Panicums, Molinias, Sporobolis and Penisetum.
For further inspiration on late-flowering perennials, read Noel Kingsbury’s Natural Garden Style. A very informative book – and I just love the cover design, an illustration by printmaker Angie Lewin www.angielewin.co.uk