Books.  I own hundreds.  They are an essential  reference  for my working life.  I regularly dip  into this particular shelf full when  creating  the  floral designs, ornamental and productive borders  for the King and Thai restaurant in Broseley.

036

On Tuesday,  flowers cut from the garden included.

 

 

Emerging  young   hosta leaves can be  used in a stir fry.  Fennel is  a great culinary flavour enhancer  with a sweet aniseed flavour.  Or as a central table  arrangement.

014

Day lily flowers, can be stuffed and fried; with their crunchy texture they have the flavour of mangetouts followed by a peppery aftertaste. Marigold petals with their tangy flavour can be added as a garnish on a salad.

 

 

Lavender  (can be used to flavour both savoury dishes and desserts) with  Crocosmia ( which has no culinary use).  Orange and purple  are described  as complementary colours, which creates for an intense visual  experience. This  was  further enhanced  by the decor of the dining room.

 

 

Monbretia, Eryngium  and Verbena bonariensis against a frosted window.

012

With my  original training  being in Landscape Architecture   I consider each floral arrangement as all my garden and border designs where form follows function without ornamentation.  Or  in other words – the simpler the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Scampston Hall Gardens in North Yorkshire.  Designed by Piet Oudolf

037If you really want to  experience this specific  element of Scampston, then take some  time to sit in these incredibly comfortable chairs.  They enabled me  to physically and emotionally  immerse myself  within the perennial grass garden and watch the autumnal light filter through the golden hue of Molina caerula ssp caerula’ Poul Peterson’ .   I really could have sat  for a very long while.  I had to remind myself that I was there to see all  the interconnected garden rooms.

My aim with these images is to  express the  beauty of this inspirational garden.  Form, texture  and structure of the planting as in all Piet Oudolf’s designs is chosen over the  plants flowering capacity.  As  Scampston heads towards late autumn, the  structure of the soft landscaping  is  superlative.

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Alba’ commonly referred to as  white flowered red bistort.  I was recently attempting  to describe this perennial to a friend, who was asking for advice about good white Autumn flowers for her border.  My initial description was a little lack lustre “It is one of my favourite Autumn perennials, with a great seed head over winter ”  This really did not give to many clues  as to why I am so taken by it”

I  came up with the analogy that the flower stem was similar to the structure of a sparkler with the tiny delicate bell-shaped flowers appearing to explode like the tiny sparks from a lit sparkler.

If you are taken with the idea of a sparkler or two in an Autumn, they can reach upto a metre in height.  They are really tolerant plants growing in all soil types, and will survive in dappled shade right through to full  sun.  They have the capacity to spread in the open ground so  I grow mine in a large container which I keep by the front gate.  I think it makes for a great start to the day as I head out to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

005I came across this stunning sculptural  Japanese anemone today in Diane and Dom’s garden in Much Wenlock.  I was particularly taken by the curvature of the stems.  This has now become my favourite flower image so far for this year.

 

 

This garden is particularly vertical,  to work here you definitely require a head for heights, as these earlier images hopefully depict.

 

 

Italy –  a magnificent fortnight of  searing blue sky ,art, architecture and gelatos.

I was also lucky to spend a  weekend in Barcelona shortly afterwards, where the intense light brought perspective, pattern and colour into sharp focus.

As a gardener, this is the start of my favourite season.  Autumnal sunlight saturates  foliage and flowers as they commence their natural demise.  Long may the sun shine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the 26th March, I sowed these  Thompson and Morgan and Sarah Raven seeds in my unheated greenhouse,  I am so happy with the results,  flowering just in time for my recent 50th birthday.

 

 

 

Where there was once turf,  gravel parking areas,  forgotten borders and gardens in need of drastic renovation,  there are now  vast tracts of colour, shape and form. Over the last ten years these gardens have all  become special and memorable places.  Why ?   Because the owners have allowed me to create great big beautiful borders for them.

Intense colour vibrancy for Selina.

A true sense of  place, peace and elegance for Martin and Judy.

I spend half a day each week pruning, weeding and being immersed in the heady scent of  countless roses, spectacular Spring Magnolias, Peonies and Cherry Blossom expertly chosen and planted by Mary – Geoff’s late wife.

Ten years ago the flowering period had almost finished in Wendy and Alan’s garden by mid-May  – not now.

Being able to plant Gunnera and create  borders that stretch as far as the eye can see for Eleanor and James.024 A chance conversation six years ago led me to work for Diane and Dom.  A head for heights and balancing on the top of narrow walls is essential, this garden is  particularly vertical in places.080

Growing the majority of the flowers, both for the table decorations and the garnishes for Suree at The King and Thai restaurant in Brosely.

What excites me, and will keep me as a professional gardener and horticulturalist for life, is knowing  that there will always be an alteration that can be made through new planting  to continue the development of these gardens.

I read garden design journals by the mound, and visit specialist nurseries searching out plants to increase my knowledge.

With this in mind I recently made my first visit to the Wildegoose Nursery in Shropshire.  What an incredible horticultural find.  This place will definitely provide the answer for my decisions on how I can continue to improve the structure and visual impact of many a garden.  The plants are incredibly well sourced, beautiful and extremely well priced.  There is also a great cafe.

My only other decision is which mug to have my first cup of tea from ?   I think it might be my Waltons mug.  After a long hot summers working day a shed load of tea will sort me out.040

 

I have spent the last seven years designing and caring for the Wild’s family garden.

The two main borders are undeniably long – coming in at around 40 metres.   Planting is in  large-scale blocks, generally around 2 metres square.

Silver birch trees were planted as young saplings six years ago. Now, during winter  the  white stems provide good visual structure from the house.

A stream bissects the garden, leaving the soil naturally  damp.  I have planted swathes of many of my favourite plants that like  these conditions including  Gunnera manicata, Rodgersia aesculifolia, Ligularia denticulata, Flag Iris and Marsh Marigold,

Adjacent to this sits another long border containing many of my favourite  big perennials.

The white daisies and Rudbeckia herbstonne are still in tight bud at the moment, but it wont be long before they are in full flower.

Achillea millefolium Gigantea, Helianthus Lemon Queen, Cephalaria gigantea and  Globe artichokes are looking  stunning at the moment.  These are big plants, in a big border.

Do I consider this , or any other garden in my care complete ?  No.  I will shortly be planting  Veronicastrum virginicum  Album-  a truly  majestic white perennial.  I do feel  their presence should be in abundance in this  garden.104

 

 

 

 

 

The vast  majority of my plants spend their lives in large containers rather than a border, as our  garden is a hard paved yard.  This has provided a  rare opportunity of being able to completely redefine the spatial composition  on  a regular basis, as I move the containers around, aiming to create a perfect series of spaces.

 

I  allow the plants  to self seed.  Consequently  there is  a wide  selection of many of my favorite hardy annuals, perennials and grasses, which grow  in between the brick paviors.     This creates interesting combinations as I place containers alongside  the self setters. Favourites include Verbena bonariensis, Valeriana officinalis,Squirrel tail grass, marjoram and Ammi majus.

 

So how did I  design my garden ?  I  made a list of what I considered important.

  • Two seating areas –  one  close to the house, the second  further into the garden.
  • An area to grow vegetables and salad.
  • An outdoor cooking area.
  • The planting  would be informal in its design style and required  to provide year long food and shelter for wildlife.

Using these design principles I created my garden.

The only constant is the  greenhouse which sits at the end of the garden. Even the new veg beds could be moved if I decide they are not in the right place.

My favourite place is the seating area closest to the house, as from here you can look through the garden.  This space is no more than 6m2 and enclosed by my favourite grass Anemanthele  lessoniana which comes right up to the table.  I  created additional spaces by using the containerised plants and weld mesh to divide up the garden.

Our garden faces west, slowly through the day the sun moves round, with  certain areas being literally baked during  Summer.  In  Winter light levels are really quite low due to the  angle of the sun.  Aspect is a crucial consideration in design.

My garden is a place of great peace, I truly love spending time in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is true, I have known it for years.  There is a reasonable amount of ground elder in  the gardens in my care.

Even though I continue to mulch and weed out the borders regularly  it still remains.  I do admit to the fact that I quite  like the white umbellifer flower.

 

If you look carefully you can  spot the ground elder in a few of them.