Posts Tagged ‘Grasses’
Posted by editor on Sunday, 5 May 2013
Next weekend we’re joining in the spirit of the Brighton Festival, but in a uniquely Garden House way! Visit us on 11 & 12 May, 11am-6pm, for a wonderful weekend of specialist plant buying.
We have invited many of the best Sussex nurseries to bring along many of their wonderful and often ‘hard to get hold of’ plants – trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables and succulents. This is the perfect time to top up and refresh your planting plans, and the growers will be on hand to offer their knowledgeable advice as to the selection of right plant, right place!
We also have a small selection of makers selling ironwork, plant supports, pots, restored garden tools and a variety of garden paraphernalia.
Plus a pop-up cafe selling delicious homemade food – and a plant swop – bring along a plant to exchange!
- Blueleaf plants – wonderful succulents
- Big Plants – exotics
- Garden House plants – shrubs, perennials and annuals
- Paul Seabourne – perennials and annuals
- Sussex Prairie – grasses and perennials
From left: Lorraine Philpot, Adele Scantlebury, Chris Burchell Collins
- Adele Scantlebury – woodblock prints
- Amanda Saurin – specially made Garden House soaps and scrubs
- Chris Burchell Collins – contemporary nature-influenced ironwork
- Deborah Goodwin – all manner of gifts and garden paraphernalia
- Ian Swain – beautifully restored tools and garden equipment
- Lorraine Philpot – naturalistic ironwork garden supports
Bring friends and family, and enjoy a great day out!
Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT
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 Saturday, 13 March 2010
In winter and early spring whilst you’re holding your breath waiting for some signs of new growth, it is all to easy to get impatient and despair.
Yet we love this time of year – the garden is laid bare, and the skeletal structure of trees, shrubs and plant supports take on a beauty of their own – occasionally dusted with frost or dripping with rain. Instead of bemoaning the late start, look closely and review how your garden looks now. Even take a few photos as a reminder – does it need more evergreen shrubs to give winter structure, some Cornus sanguinea or Salix for bright winter stems, should you have left the tall grasses standing, not just for the insects and birds, but also for height and drama?
Good structural plants include clipped box (Buxus sempervirens) used for low hedging, clipped cones or spheres. Also Sedum, Euphorbias, Phormium and Fatsia Japonica. The white bark of Betula Utilis var. Jacquemontii (Himalayan birch) looks spectacular, great for uplighting in winter.
Look too at the small details that give your garden its early season personality. Maybe bird-feeders made by local artisans, pieces of carved stone lined up against a wall, or mosaic paving stones giving a flash of colour? At The Garden House we cut bright red Cornus branches and use them to edge the vegetable garden, and small pots of bulbs are lined up on little tables.
Take this opportunity to tidy up scrappy fences, fix trellises that have suffered the previous season, oil or stain outdoor furniture or sheds.
Now is the time to think about creating some dynamic new plant supports, using hazel, birch or willow – it’s easier to get them into place now well before a burst of growth makes it hard to get onto the borders. Join our Creative Plant Staking workshop on Friday 16 April – check this website’s Diary for details.
All too soon this elegant buff-coloured bareness will be overtaken by lush green growth – so enjoy it while you can!
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!