planting, gardening, gardens, plants, planting, design, special shrubs

Good garden design can be as simple as getting the right plant in the right place

Whilst last week, we looked at some of the graceful floral forerunners of the spring, such as Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis and Winter Aconite Eranthis hyemalis, if we design our gardens carefully there are other specialist plants that occur naturally at other levels and locations, which can provide us with charming sights and scents. [caption id="attachment_5054" align="alignnone" width="903"] White Helleborus orientalis in bloom in February[/caption] A plant that has been “on-the-go” for quite some time in milder gardens, but which is about to enter its key bloom period, is the Hellebore (Helleborus orientalis...

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garden, plants, gardening, gardens, foxglove, digitalis

Striking garden plants!

This Digitalis purpurea 'Alba' is well over 1.5m tall and making a real statement in a central spot in my garden right now. Fabulous amongst grasses or en masse, foxgloves are a perennial favourite. (albeit a biannual flower) in both show gardens and natural spaces. Fantastic in woodland gardens too! [caption id="attachment_4907" align="aligncenter" width="576"] White foxglove[/caption] A great plant at this time of year when whites are so prevalent before the stronger colours of other plants start to dominate....

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Spring bulbs! early markers of the garden design year ahead

[caption id="attachment_2975" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Russborough House, Co. Wicklow. Spring bulbs creating a beautiful and colourful floral carpet beneath mature Lime trees[/caption] I was captivated by this colourful display on a weekend break to West Wicklow last week (a garden designers busman's holiday or what?). These beautiful bulbs including snowdrop, winter aconite (yellow) and cyclamen (pink) have been planted in drifts alongside the Lime walkway leading to the walled garden at Russborough House  - a fine Palladian pad, itself worth a visit when it opens from late March. But what a wonderful marker these...

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Garden hedges using native, wildlife-friendly plants

The weather is a bit windy, wet and wintry here at the moment and maybe the very last thing you are thinking about is the state of your garden.  But if you had been considering a revamp of the garden perimeter with a bit of new planting during the course of last year then you need to know that now is the perfect time of year for planting a new hedge. It’s time to take action because we are currently in the dormant season for deciduous trees and shrubs and this...

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Coppicing trees in the garden and coppice woodlands

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="615"] Mature coppice in Herefordshire[/caption] Whilst I was working with the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) a number of years ago (quite a number actually!), I completed a super training course in woodland crafts at the Greenwood Trust in Ironbridge, Shropshire.  Since then, I am in the habit of advocating coppicing not only as a useful and productive way of managing woodlands (of all sizes) but also as a method for controlling the size of trees  in small gardens, especially where space is at a premium but the...

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My visit to the Chelsea flower show 2012 | Tim Austen garden designs

This year I visited the Chelsea flower show and, although I found some of the main show gardens a little “samey” e.g. variants of the same colour paving (beige Yorkstone) were repeated over the first five main showgardens, there was still plenty there to provide food for thought, particularly from the new fresh gardens category. [caption id="attachment_2281" align="alignleft" width="600"] Joe Sift's water feature[/caption] My favourites from the main show gardens were, in no particular order, Joe Swift’s ‘Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust Garden’ - I loved the bold cedar wood frames and large...

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Amazing azaleas

At this time of year, no blog on garden design would be worth its salt without a post on Rhododendrons .  Alongside the Magnolias these are some of the plants (both trees and shrubs) that lend a real “wow-factor” to spring gardens. My father has always been a “rhodo-fanatic” and having recently moved from a garden in Wicklow with alkaline soil to one in Kerry with acid-peat soil, he is delighted with the results - his Rhododenrons are romping away and producing spectacular flowers. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="240"] Rhodendron macabeanum in Kerry[/caption] Briefly,...

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Plant power!

Here's a few pics to show the impact that a relatively simple planting design can have on the appearance of a building. Before: During: After: The three multi-stemmed trees are Betula pendula multi-stems, height range 5-5.5m.  These were planted as root-balled specimens.   Being on the nothern side of the building the groundcover plants include those tolerant of shade.  The soil is also somewhat wet.  Plants selected included, amongst others: Alchemilla mollis, Astilbe, Bergenia cordifolia, Helleborus orientalis and Caltha palustris with a selection of  Ferns, grasses including Luzula sylvatica with Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Tradescantia ‘Red...

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Brilliant bluebells!

A carpet of bluebells in deciduous woodland has to be one of the most enchanting sights, at this time of year.  And even if you are neither interested in the botanical nor the ecological value of these plants then surely you can't but be moved by the sheer pleasure of the visual experience.  Many artists have been. I happened across these English bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta to the side of the N71 road just after it leaves Killarney near Muckross.  Covering a huge area underneath some Sycamore trees they were a brake-inducing sight.  And...

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Garden visits: E.H. Wilson memorial garden

[caption id="attachment_1385" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Entrance to Wilson memorial garden[/caption] E.H. Wilson was born in Chipping Campden in 1876.  A small memorial garden to the great plant-hunter can be found there.  Barely noticeable, the garden is accessed through a small arch, which is not much more than a gap in the wall at the northern end of the High Street.  I stumbled across the garden on a walk whilst visiting my grandparents  a year or two ago - I had not known it was there before that. The garden is simple in design...

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