Posts Tagged ‘Prairie Planting’
Posted by editor on Thursday, 31 October 2013
You may well be surprised at our choice this month as Pampas Grass is a bit of a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ plant, especially when stuck out on its own in the middle of a lawn or front garden!
Yesterday we visited Sheffield Park to see the autumn colour (though due to the lack of cold nights and sunny days the trees have been slow to change) and took these photos – and now, having seen this amazing plant at it’s best, we’ve decide that we definitely love it!
Our favourite cultivar is Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’, a more compact and free-flowering variety of this much-maligned ornamental grass. It is perennial and evergreen and forms a compact clump of narrow rough-edged arching leaves 45cm in length, with erect stems bearing dense silvery or pink-tinged flower plumes that are excellent for drying.
Unlike other cultivars this is considered a dwarf form as it only reaches 1.5m (5ft) high in late summer and therefore is better suited to requirements in smaller gardens.
- Grow in any fertile, well-drained soil in full sun (give it ample space to develop into a specimen)
- Protect crowns of young plants in their first winter
- Cut and comb out the previous year’s stems and dead foliage annually in late winter or early spring
- Always wear stout gardening gloves when working with pampas grass to protect hands from cuts caused by the sharp leaf margins
- Propagate by division February to April
This architectural plant is suitable for several situations including city and courtyard gardens, gravel gardens, coastal or cottage/informal gardens and prairie gardens. Also flower borders and beds, and cut flowers.
So happily it’s not just a plant for 60s swingers – why not learn to love it, grow it in your garden and bring the Pampas Grass back into fashion!
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 Wednesday, 3 October 2012
Our suggestion this month is the wonderful Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ of the Asteraceae family, and common named the ‘perennial sunflower’.
It is one of those plants that never fails to lift the spirits, and is irresistible to butterflies! Reassuringly it has also been given the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the Royal Horticultural Society, so you know it’s going to perform well.
Helianthus can be tall, erect annuals, tuberous or rhizomatous perennials, with coarse simple leaves and large daisy-like flower heads.
‘Lemon Queen’ is a strong-growing and bushy, with coarse, dark green foliage and a multitude of pale yellow ray florets about a dark yellow central disk 5cm wide, flowering in late summer and autumn.
This delightful and much-loved plant grows best in full sun in any sheltered position (not in shade or north-facing aspect). It looks beautiful planted in large swathes, prairie style; but equally works well when planted in smaller city or courtyard gardens, coastal, cottage or informal gardens.
Helianthus love moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist but well drained, neutral to alkaline soil in full sun, and need a long hot summer to flower well. They may need support.
- Hardiness: H4 (hardy)
- Propagate by division in spring or autumn
- Pruning: Cut back after flowering
- Pests: Can get slugs and snails
- Diseases: May be affected by powdery mildews and sclerotinia diseases
Posted by editor on Saturday, 8 September 2012
Last Sunday the wonderful Paul and Pauline McBride invited over 60 specialist nurseries, artists and makers to set up their stalls dotted in and around the vast perennial beds that make up the Sussex Prairies landscape.
On the left, Bridgette Saunders with Paul Seabourne
We set up our stall to meet and talk with new people, happy to tell them about the exciting upcoming Garden House workshops, courses and talks – everything from our 8-week Gardening for Beginners courses, to an evening talk with Ed Ikin, head gardener at Nymans, and a Green Roof Workshop where you can not only learn about green roofs, but actually plant and take away your own green-roofed bird box!
On Saturday 29 September we’re returning to Sussex Prairies for our Designing with Plants at the Sussex Prairies Garden Workshop – an exploration of what makes for dream planting partnerships – looking at colour, shape, texture and architectural forms of plants. See DIARY for more details.
Our stand also featured mosaic pieces by Brighton-based mosaicist Sue Samway and a great selection of specialist perennials propagated by Paul Seabourne.
Hard to believe, but the borders at Sussex Prairies were planted only 4 years ago in 2008, and all 30,000 of 600 different varieties have been carefully logged and recorded! The sweeping beds planted in the shape of a spiralling nautilus shell encourage exploration and adventure and visitors are able to roam through narrow pathways in amongst the mighty plants to further enjoy the experience. The plantings consist of large groupings of each variety, planted in a free flowing style, which contrasts leaf forms, stems, stalks, flower shapes and textures.
Even as some of the planting fades and begins to go over, there remains the rusty and blackened colouring of the seedheads and grasses. In many ways quite as attractive as the late summer Heleniums, Rudbeckias and Sedums.
On the weekend of 15/16 September another unusual event is taking place at Sussex Prairies: the Blackfoot Lodge and Spirit of the West will be camping in the garden with their teepees, totem poles and buffalo skins. Visit and talk with them about the native American way of life anytime between 1pm and 5pm
Sussex Prairies, Morlands Farm, Wheatsheaf Road, Henfield, West Sussex, BN5 9AT www.sussexprairies.co.uk
Posted by editor on Monday, 29 August 2011
Well worth a visit – on Sunday 4 September 2011 (from 11am until 5pm) a rare collection of exciting nurseries, artists and crafts people will be coming together at the Sussex Prairies Garden. Over 60 stalls will be displaying a great selection of unusual plants and beautiful pieces for you to buy.
The Sussex Prairies Garden also happens to be one of our favourite gardens, renowned for its dramatic drifts of late summer-flowering perennials.
The Garden House will be there – ready to discuss our forthcoming (and very exciting) Christmas and 2012 courses, workshops, garden visits and talks (evening talk with Fergus Garrett at GH on 23 March 2012!). We’ll also be selling GH-made preserves and a variety of seeds and plants.
Plant exhibitors include:
- DESIRABLE PLANTS – Specialising in herbaceous perennials, Epimedium and other woodlanders, Galanthus, Watsonia, Gladiolus, Tritonia and other South African Iridaceae, outh African Erica, Sanguisorba, Geranium, Hedychium and Roscoea. www.desirableplants.com
- SCARECROW PLANTS – Out of the ordinary plants, English Native wildflowers and plants to attract wildlife. Also hand-made local ironwork and trellis. 07939 272443
- RAPKYNS NURSERY – All grown in their traditional nursery – a unique and exciting range of quality and unusual cottage garden plants. 01825 830065
Art exhibitors include:
- ANNEMARIE O’SULLIVAN – whose passion lies in all things woven, knotted and netted, will be showing baskets and larger woven forms. www.annemarieosullivan.co.uk
- FRANCES DOHERTY – extraordinary ceramics based on the forms of fruiting bodies, flowers and particularly seedpods. Richly glazed to complement the form and often combined with metal and reclaimed sea defence timber. www.francesdoherty.co.uk
- CHRIS BURCHELL COLLINS – A Blacksmith and Green Woodworker whose work is influenced by the wonderful forms and shapes found in nature.
- JANINE CREAYE – will be bringing many new small sculptures for gardens and interiors. Stylised and patterned wood carving, stone carving and drawings of natural forms. www.sculptureform.co.uk
- HOLLY BELL – wheel-thrown functional ceramics including jugs, tea-sets and planters. www.hollybell.co.uk
And many, many more – a great chance to source some amazing plants and artifacts for you, your house and your garden! For more information visit www.sussexprairies.co.uk
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 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 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 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