Archives for category: garden design

Winter finds me spending considerable time deliberating over how I will transform my garden for summer.  The heady scent of damp compost and freshly germinated seedlings will shortly be filling the greenhouse.  I can hardly contain my excitement.

050Anemanthele lessoniana (in the background) continues to self seed freely through our garden.   My big idea for this year is for all my new seed grown plants to sit in containers between the clumps of this grass.  I cannot wait to see my 2018 seed raised honka dahlias emerging through the burn’t orange tinted foliage this coming late summer.            l

Molina Transparent and giant fennel plants are shortly to be acquired.  They will definitely provide height and structural definition to my garden.

033037035I am still working on finalising my must have list.  Fiona likes to help out, using her long pointy greyhound nose to show me her favourites.  In all honesty I  would like to grow the lot !

p.s my next blog will be my definitve list, and why they made it onto it.




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.








I have reached a conclusion, I really need to go to Chelsea twice each year. Yet again, I slipped into a complete euphoric state of horticultural happiness within an hour, which rendered my capacity to concentrate to a pretty low-level.  If I said to my sister Lou once I  must have said ” that planting detail is so incredibly beautiful  ” about  a hundred times.

I found it almost impossible  to concentrate on entire show gardens or the floral pavilion nursery stands,  every time I stopped I was drawn into the mesmerizing detail of the planting, and sculptural elements of the designs.

My plan for next year is simple, a day to yet again slip into the sublime dream world that is Chelsea, with a second visit to actually focus on the created beauty that is Chelsea.

Dream like images follow. Enjoy.

Work continues in this dreary, grey  Winter. However Last week was  perfect for planting roses, moving  deciduous shrubs whilst musing on  what to grow from seed, as I sat in several greenhouses waiting for the rain to stop.

So, with time on my hands I contemplated  colour.  Coral, raspberry, primrose yellow, burgundy, chocolate brown and burnt orange are the main contenders at present. I took  this image last year.  I loved the  colour combination and the edible element it bought to the flower border.


Thompson and Morgan have a new Cosmos this year.  Xanthos  is described as soft yellow.  To date this  is the  only  definite on my must grow  list.

I  recently moved  a vast amount of  2015 seed sown Stipa tenusimma from one garden to another .  It  was grown specifically  for a new border that needed gapping up last year.   There is now a definite structure plan that does not include Stipa, so  it is  venturing elsewhere.  Sharing plants is such a great way to create beautiful gardens.


I firmly believe that in a large border, and  if soil conditions  and light levels permit, you can never have enough  Verbena bonariensis, Stipa tenuissima  or Globe Artichoke (Violet de Provence is a favorite of mine, and comes via Sarah Raven seeds).  I spent around £6.00 on seed,  ending up with at least  forty  decent sized plants last year.

Wednesday 13th January the frost finally arrived in Shropshire. At  long last some decent Winter pruning can begin in earnest.   Pruning is one of my favorite tasks. My  tools of choice are  as always  Niwaki secateurs and my Wolfgarten anvil loppers.

My favorite January images follow. Enjoy.








As   much as I enjoy  creating, tending  and watching  vast  borders change with the seasons, I am particularly taken by Autumn.  Soft plant material begins  to  disintegrate, seed heads form, pigments start to fail,and berries become visually dominant. This is an incredibly vibrant and exciting  time of the gardening year.


090October  appears  in the main  to be consisting of  removing plants that have outgrown both their allotted  space and visual interest, in so creating space for new interesting additions.  Kniphofia and Persicaria are presently  at the top of my interesting plant list, with  Persicaria  Red Dragon topping my  favorite foliage plant of the year.


Kniphofia  – there is just something very special about their statement  colour that appeals to me.  Recent acquisitions include Kniphofia  Lemon Bees

082  and  Kniphofia Mango Surprise

044. These Kniphofia belong to  Wendy, they looked pretty amazing in June.


There is no point in keeping plants that bore you, gardens need to be inspirational places of visual beauty, whether that is in flower, seed, stem, or berry. or  a butterfly resting on Rudbeckia herbstonne.


Enjoy your autumn gardens.   I will enjoy fourteen .



Crocosmia Lucifer is ready to burst, however have you seen Crocosmia  Hell Fire?  – a rather magnificent  blood red specimen.  In the rain it is iridescent, I would like to note that it rained quite a lot last week…P1050630


P1050558In addition to designing, implementing  and maintaining giant borders , plant propagation is pretty  high up on my list of things I love to do.  Scottish thistle is  one of my favorites, it is definitely not  for the faint hearted gardener.   I bought the seed  from  Nicky’s seeds several years ago.  Whilst it does not appear to self seed too freely, it creates  a striking sculptural element in gardens.  Beware though it is the meanest spikiest stem you can ever imagine, trying to stake it is a gardeners nightmare.


I have watched this  self- set  black currant grow in one border  for the last couple of years.  It  looks particularly well placed  against the Lysimachia atropurpurea.

P1050566P1050563This Philadelphus  amazes me with  its sheer flowering capacity every year.

My own garden is coming along very nicely. It is  doing just what I wanted it to do, in that  I have let everything self seed to almost the point  of chaos, but not quite –   Trust me I am a gardener.P1050634P1050639

More images of gardens follow,  a wet but great week to be a gardener.


For all you gardeners, designer’s and  plant lovers out there, the sense of heightened horticultural excitement was tangible, as my sister and I waited with the crowds  for the gates to open. I have since spent a reasonable amount of time thinking what was it that made  Chelsea 2015  such a great day for me ? I have reached my conclusion.  Show gardens were  memorable owing  to the real  sense of place that had been so gracefully created, through the designers innovative,  intelligent, and solid approach.  Attention to detail in the planting was sublime.  Additionally  many of the  gardens  were  quite dissimilar, so no blue print this year, which is  always a bonus. Geums, Roses and Peonies   were abundant, all looking  exquisite.  I could have easily  moved into several of the show gardens, in particular  the Olive Grove in the perfumers garden , sponsored by L’OCCITANE.  I  would have also  liked to have bought  the entire Peony stock from Binny Plants, and herbaceous stock  from Hardys nursery. I am now on a Geum hunt. Mrs Bradshaw might be taking a sharp exit from many of the gardens in my care. I am thinking more of Geum Totally Tangerine.  I am also searching  for boulders – unfortunately not quite of the  Chatsworth scale, they  were breathtakingly beautiful.  Who would have thought a boulder could be described as such. It is  true, believe me it is all in the detail.   Enjoy.021023026066064080090107110120149141169 This is my favourite image of 2015.   This stunning willow sculpture by Tom Hare was on the Breast Cancer Haven Garden.  It was so beautifully crafted.051


I am hoping for monstrous growth  from this Gunnera manicata to enable the Wild(e) family to view it from the safety of their kitchen window – a mere twenty-five metre planting distance.

DSCN1065P1010166There is definitely no place for plants of a shrinking violet nature in this garden, maybe it is something to do with their surname – or possibly it is due to employing me as their gardener who likes nothing better than designing and then caring for gardens that pack  a punch. IMGP9417

DSCN1028Later this year Helianthus Lemon Queen will mingle with Cephalaria gigantea and giant achillea.

P1040552Rudbeckia Herbstonne will stand proud again in the late Summer.

New acquisitions for this year  include Pampass, Artichoke Violet de Provence and Rheum palatum Atropurpureum.   I  just need  to make some space in what was already a  full garden in 2014.   I think  plant  donations to other gardens may well be a good idea.freyas   2013 514

I would love to include Gunnera magellanica – however it might well become lost in the undergrowth..

Spring is pretty full on. There  are some magnificent flowers (and bracts) about at the moment.   Fritillaria Imperialis Rubra looked stunning today. 129

127Euphorbia myrsinites with  their sulphur yellow bracts are making  quite a statement at the moment.

111 Gunnera  manicata will  be celebrating their third year of being in Eleanor’s  garden.  I am hoping for monstrous growth to enable them to be seen from the kitchen window – a mere 25 metre distance.

118Scilla Spring Beauty are romping away.

124 Narcissi Trena, which has the effect of making me feel  instantly happy.

P1050124Euphorbia robbaie and a self seeded Hellebore looking pretty good in Ironbridge.

P1050165Monbretia and more self seeded Hellebores. The freshness of the foliage has to be seen to be believed.

Plant life in the Spring garden is definitely not beige, enjoy.