Archives for category: borders

My new camera has arrived.  I am delighted.

I recently constructed two new raised beds at home, which immediately heightened the enjoyment of my garden.

015 Throughout the week I spend somewhere between 35 and 40 hours working in other people’s gardens. I dig, weed, prune, design, plant and resolve gardening problems.  I truly love being a gardener, I find it good for my soul and well being, both physically and mentally.

When I get home,  my garden is an old brick paved farm yard.  Every year I spend a long time re-arranging the containers which are jam- packed full of my favourite plants, creating the garden I want to enjoy.  I am now able to get my hands in the soil as I plant in the large raised beds, rather than squeezing newly grown plants into containers.  I  feel I  am finally gardening in my own garden.  It makes me feel good.

I need a new kneeling pad. Geoff’s dog ate it. This was the best kneeler I have ever used, you can see all the layers.  Sadly it was not Spaniel proof …011

These are my favourite  garden related images from 2016.  I hope you enjoy them.028This huge drift of chocolate cosmos and squirrel tail grass was taken in  August at Aberglasney gardens.  I thought the combination was perfect.

217 From my own garden.  I love the longevity of asters, followed by their stunning seed heads.

020From Diane and Dom’s garden. My precious  Niwaki secateurs, and a Christmas present of a box of truly delicious Belgian chocolates.

013A clump of Erythronium Pagoda in the rain, under hydrangeas.  We should all make space for them in a shady spot.  Stunning.

november   2013 099Late autumnal light running through the border at Selina’s,  full of asters and crocosmia.

011Cornus midwinter fire in front of White birch at Geoffs’.

004Exploding frozen stems in Eleanor’s garden, November 2016.

014Summer light through the Veronicastrum and Helianthus at Martin and Judy’s.

009My garden, marjorum, feverfew, squirrel tail grass, mid summer.

014Bees on centeura in Wendy’s garden.

I  hope  2017 is a  spectacular photography and gardening year for all of us

I have recently scrutinized all the borders in my care.  My love for Asters in all their autumn glory is my downfall,  I tend to forget how skilled  they are in making a solid mat of roots that swamps anything in their path, allowing little else to flourish. The same can be said  for crocosmia,ladies mantle, lysimachia to name but a few.

I made a plan  in autumn and  stuck to it. Garden by garden  border by border I have removed rampaging perennials by the wheelbarrow load to make space.  From now on in  winter will find me pruning ,mulching, and planting new trees and shrubs in those new spaces.

I  had the opportunity to revamp an entire double border from spring to this autumn.  If  there is  space in your  garden then the creation of two adjacent parallel  borders is a worthy addition.   There really is something quite special about walking  along a pathway where you are totally immersed on either side by perennials, shrubs and trees. Personally, it can and frequently does promote a sense of satisfaction with life, peace and calm.

Over the last three years  I have watched plants bulk up in a customers double border.  Action was needed by this summer as it was all getting a little out of hand (particularly the alstromeria)P1050462

I began by thinking about what was already in the rest of the garden that I could  possibly use.  Early  spring 2016  I  split up and replanted  hundreds of snowdrops. Followed in  Late Spring  by  buying  around £25.00 worth of new perennials in 10 cm pots, which  have grown  away  really successfully, the plants in question being  spanish daisy and  Aster lateriflorus Lady in Black . One of which has the capacity to self seed prolifically, and the latter is likely to spread.  I will keep an eye on them..

In Autumn I dug out swathes of crocosmia,  monbretia,  alstromeria  and ladies mantle and some oversized hebes .  I pruned back the Magnolia as it was  casting too much shade. I moved peonies (with great care) and  divided  a primrose yellow nepeta govaniana, which is fast becoming one of my favourite perennials.  I still need to buy some more Russian sage, as it looks stunning with the nepeta.009

There was a  huge Miscanthus  Morning light, which was prime for dividing.  These off sets are now at 2m intervals  on both sides of the border which  provide  definition, symmetry, and rhythm.

This border has taken nine months to renovate. In its new form it will  be a collection of primrose yellow, perovskia purple, pale pink, I am looking forward to its new lease of life.

My recommendation,  make some time  and think what you would like to see in your garden next year, there is a whole winters worth of deliberation  time ahead of us, it will be worth it.

Earlier in Spring, I decided all the perennials  in one particular  garden really needed dividing to maximize their  flowering capacity.  My only problem was the size of the border, it’s not small  – almost 30 metres in length, adding to this I am only there for  around 3 hours a week.  It would have taken for ever.

I came up with a solution, and dug out the old woody centre of each congested clump, rather than digging up, dividing and replanting.

The results this  Summer, are incredible, there are dozens and dozens of stems  waiting to come into flower.


This border (which belongs to Eleanor ) contains several personal  favourite flowers,  including :-

Helianthus  Lemon Queen (image from 2015)  A late Summer towering perennial, which regularly  tops out at over 6ft.089

Rudbeckia Herbstonne (image from 2015) .  A stunning tall border perennial.  Flowering from late July onwards.087I often find, that when I lift and divide this perennial the smaller clumps are attractive to slugs, with my new approach they have grown away at an  incredible rate.

Achillea millefolium (image 2015)  A tall back of the border perennial, flat creamy white flower heads.DSCN1028

Leucanthemum Phyllis Smith, a truly magnificent shasta daisy, at just under a metre tall, it is a stunning flower, a firm favourite of mine.006

When I first started working in this garden, I made a very neat hoop shaped willow edge to the front of the border.  Six  years on, the hoops have all but disappeared, instead  I  regularly prune  back  the willow at various heights, to enable the perennials to be seen. Rather than being an edge to the border, it has definitely become an integral element.

Less than a week to  go until  Bridgwalton  House  re-opens to the public. All money raised will be donated to the Lingen Davies Cancer Charity, in memory of Geoff’s wife Mary,  who  created, tended and undeniably loved this award-winning garden with great passion.  Sadly  I never met Mary, however I really do feel that I meet her through her garden on a weekly basis, she really was an incredibly knowledgable plantswoman and designer, it  is a privilege to work at Bridgwalton.

Without doubt this garden is  immensely beautiful right through out the year. On  Sunday  the garden will be filled with the scent and colour of exquisite roses, perennials and  peonies.

Several of Marys friends have provided invaluable help as we have worked our way through the garden to ensure it will look  at its best –  the silver birch need their bark scrubbed to make them white again, borders need weeding, the topiary needs clipping, and finally the paths will need sweeping, and I need to gen up on some plant identification , as I am down for gardening advice.

If you are passing Telegraph Road near to Bridgnorth   between 2 – 5 p.m on  the 19th please consider calling  in, it would be lovely to see you in Marys garden.  Entry of £5.00 per adult,

Last year, I put together a new garden using  divided clumps of perennials .  Ladies mantle, Cat mint, Geranium Rozanne, Sysirinchium striatum and Astrantia major to name but a few.  All flowered profusely over several months.

With  the onset of Spring all my clients perennials are now under scrutiny,  anything  slightly congested and woody is  being  rejuvenated, through division (or complete removal  if they are no longer of merit).  This will  make a  huge difference to their health and flowering capacity, ultimately  creating space for new  or soon to be propagated plants.


With  newly created gaps in the border I can  start  designing.  Colour is my first thought,  I then start to link in appropriately sized plants.  My palette for home this year will  include chocolate brown, burnt orange,maroon , black , lime green, raspberry  and primrose yellow.  Below  are a selection of my choice plants.

Chocolate Brown –  Chocolate cosmos.  I planted these into containers at home last year,  brushing past them frequently  en- masse the scent is  chocolate heaven.    They looked particularly fine against Perovskia Blue Spire.  A  haze of metallic purple and brown, quite sublime.

Burnt Orange  –     The arrival of the Woolmans catalogue  has  spurred on my new interest in Chrysanthemums.   Evening Glow, described as having an effective golden glow is definitely on my list.

Burgundy/maroon –  If you can cope with the yellow flower then Lysimachia purpurea   with its intense  burgundy foliage  is definitely worth a space in the border.  It has the capacity of escaping its allocated space, however  not being deep rooted it is  easy to remove.  My absolute favourite perennial is   Knautia macedonica, with  a burgundy pin cushion shaped flower which billows through many  gardens from early Summer till late Autumn.


 Black  – Centaurea Jordy  a deep plum, almost black flowering perennial  has been acquired.  I   have several packets of Black Currant Fizz  (see above) a hardy poppy, that will  be sown right through Wendy’s border.  This image is third year generated seed. Over time  they take on different  forms from their initial deep burgundy /black  to this mix of red and deep maroon.

Lime Green –   Euphorbia, their beautiful bracts are often willing to supply this colour.   I  have planted them in countless gardens, and my Euphorbia of choice – is Characias Wulfenii

What is your favourite colour ?  maybe you should include it within your garden or window box this year ?





018097090P1050606P1040424november 2013 100november 2013 099november 2013 104P1050586345When most people say ” I’m in the garden”  what they normally mean is that  they are sitting down and relaxing.  When I say  ” I’m  in the garden” I actually mean I am either  ankle, knee, thigh, or head deep in the border, with the latter being my favourite.  Towering  Rudbeckia herbstonne  provides  this heavenly  opportunity  regularly through the Summer.

It  is  a completely  different sensory experience  once  you  clamber  inside,  providing  a far greater sense of the dynamics of  the planting, rather than viewing from the sidelines.

Being the generous gardener I am,  this WInter  I will create  some  pathways enabling  my customers  to climb in,  so they too  can enjoy their gardens from within.