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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

From now on  I  will go twice.  A day is undeniably insufficient to take in all the show gardens,  discuss gorgeous flowers with nursery growers. try out new tools, and spend time with my sister Louise.

My favourite image was from the sound garden designed by James Alexander Sinclair

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My favourite show garden was the Royal Bank of Canada Garden by Charlotte Harris.   I really wanted to sit inside the pavilion to consider this eloquent design –  I found it mesmerising.  A  true sense of place had been created.     The gnarled Jack Pines were magnificent, the soft planting combinations of Aquilegia, Lilies and Sweet Grass – exquisite.

I hope you enjoy a few of my other images from  Chelsea 2017.  It was, as ever, a truly memorable show.

I am finding it difficult to curb enthusiasm for my new camera.

016 I planted  Gunnera manicata in a  stream side border.  My intention was for  Eleanor and James to eventually witness the giant foliage from their kitchen window  (which is about twenty metres from the original planting).  The Gunnera will reach around 2.5 metres in height this year so my aim will have been achieved.   Due to recent ground frosts, some of the fresh foliage was damaged, however,  there is plenty more to come.

  I recently cleared out blocks of montbretia in the rockery for Judy and Martin.  Verbena bonariensis, Tithonia rotundifolia ‘ The Torch’  and Salvia viridis ‘Blue’ will fill the gaps.   I am intrigued to see how the combinations of orange, blue and purple work this summer.

026 I particularly enjoy walking along this pathway to Treasa and Simon’s garden in Spring, due to a carpet of primroses which stretch its entirety.    The foliage of Knautia macedonia Purpurea and Japanese anemones are presently pushing their way through and around the box balls, and so my pathway enjoyment continues.

038Patty’s Plum looked stunning at Diane and Dom’s

022Suree’s  garden at the award-winning King and Thai restaurant in Broseley.

Sheila’s garden with its heavy clay is a perfect place for poppies and peonies.

Next week – five days of Shropshire gardens followed by the Wicks sisters annual visit to RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  I cannot wait!

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 belong to my friend Judy.  Every year we scour the Parkers catalogue to find perfect tulips for containers.  They are lifted with their stem and leaves intact when they have finished flowering and dried off in the greenhouse over summer.  In mid-November, they are replanted in raised beds in the lower section of the garden.

We would not choose to have this amount of mixed colour spread through the garden.  However, in one space, I  think it works well.

If you are wondering what to do with your spent containerised tulips why not give this a go?

Over the last four years, my ever faithful Panasonic DMXC-TZ18l  has enabled me to produce the images  for this blog.  I cannot believe it has managed to survive this long.  I have dropped it on numerous occasions, left it in the rain and  filled the zoom with soil on more than one occasion.  A truly great  camera.  Sadly last week system error (Zoom) was its downfall.  I thought I would share some of my favourite  images.

I have ordered a Lumix DMC-TZ60, which has now  been dispatched from Jessops.  I am quite excited.