Category Archives: Hot off the Press

How to buy plants properly – 5 golden rules

How do you buy plants properly?

 

Well, the best way to explain how is with a sofa.

 

So you’ve just watched the Chelsea Flower Show all week and now you’re on a mission to do-up the garden. Gardening can be really expensive, buying plants certainly is – so how can you buy plants properly, so you don’t waste money and the garden will look amazing!

 

First, you need a sofa.

 

Your lovely sofa (i.e your garden border) needs a new look. So off to the shops you trot.

 

In the department store, you see some colourful scatter cushions that catch your eye, a lamp and a rug – so you buy them all and VOILA; a fabulous new look…

Or maybe not.

All of us understand how to decorate a room, albeit maybe we’re not so good as an interior designer, but most of us can ‘cook up a new look’ pretty well.

 

Almost like this one.

 

So why on earth, when faced with a trip to the garden centre do many folks, simply wander round and purchase on impulse.

 

Pick & Mix in the garden is not going to work.
You need a plan if you want to stop wasting money and learn how to buy plants properly.

 

Buy Plants Properly – The 5 Golden Rules

– especially if you don’t know much about gardening!

 

Rule 1 – Never ‘Pop into’ a Garden Centre for Some Plants.

All retailers want us to buy stuff, they have lots of stuff to sell and so make that stuff look really exciting and nice and attractive.

Funnily enough, all of us get duped into buying stuff we don’t want or need or know what to do with – all the time!

 

Garden Centres are expert at this too. The horticultural world has decided what we, the consumer, will want to buy. They then grow all these plants and present them to us for purchase.

 

Plants abound in every size shape and colour, it’s like being in a giant sweetie shop. And we fall for it every time,

 

“ooh that looks lovely, buy one”,

“have you seen this one, that’s really pretty too”, buy one.

 

We, the said consumer, then return home with this bag of brightly coloured sweeties and usually struggle to find a place our new purchases, so we tend to do what we’ve always done, simply pop them in any old gap we can find in the border.

The result – a sofa covered in lots of different scatter cushions.

 

So you need a plan.

Rule 2 – Discipline Yourself

In the instance of our lovely sofa above, we need to look for scatter cushions that will look good with brown. So your trip to the garden centre will focus your attention on the colours you are looking for. Perhaps in this case, cream colours with maybe a few orange coloured scatter cushions…

 

You may have noticed we’ve not even looked at what type of plant yet, just colours.

 

Rule 3 – Take a Photo of your Garden

You are going to be tempted by all the lovely plant displays and goodies on offer – so a cunning plan is to have a picture of the sofa (garden border) on your phone. It will help keep you focussed on what you are really need to get.

 

Rule 4 – What shape does the plant need to fill?

 

Right, this is the technical bit, and the best way to explain this is with a few diagrams…

 

All borders are 3D in shape, so you need to think about length, width and height.

You need to think how the plants will fill the whole area – and this helps you determine the right shape of plant to fit the space you need.

So in this example of our border space, you can see how different shapes of plants will work or not as the case maybe!

  

 Here, the plants seem a little too flat or a little too top heavy.

 

To fill the 3D space, you can create a more balanced border.

As you can see in the final image, the whole area is filled, none of the plant shapes is too dominant, it looks OK. And that’s all you need to think about, if it looks OK, it probably is.

We still haven’t even begin to speak about what types of plants yet, just, colour and shape.

However, the next rule is knowing how the plant will behave and it’s probably the most important.

 

 

Rule 5 – Read the Label, always.

Plant labels are a real nuisance these days, all you get are a few symbols and some infographics. The essential information is there though and you need to read it.

 

It’s important to know how big the plant will get, if it says 10ft in 5 years, then it needs a pretty big gap in the border – squeezing it in anywhere else will only cause you problems in a very short time.

You also need to know whether that pretty plant in the pot will spread like wildfire all over the garden or have ambitions to world (or at least your garden’s ) total domination!

Luckily, we do have a helpful page – ‘Plants to Avoid – if you don’t like gardening’!

OK – you’ve followed the rules, so what now?

 

Hopefully you will have come up with a little plan by now, but if not, here’s an example from my garden to show you what to do.

 

 Clearly, this border is over stuffed.

Now I don’t want plants too tall, because I won’t see out of the window, but I would like plants that are colourful (so there is something nice to look out of the window at).

Luckily, I have a white wall, so I can showcase bold colours against it, but only 2 contrasting colours as it’s a small bed.

I would like all the plants to be: non-floppy, not too tall, but I’d like the flowers high enough to see through the windows. I’d like some scent and bright colours, as this border is in full sun.

Now you can choose the plants. you have the basis of a plan .

The result….

It’s the same border – just with different plants.

 

If you have trawled all the way to the bottom of this post (thank you btw), hopefully you have a better idea of how to buy plants properly.

If however, you are still a bit stuck, we can help – all you need to do is call!

Does your Garden Taste Good?

Does your Garden Taste Good?

And why this matters.

 

Sitting in a garden in Summer watching bees buzz and butterflies flutter is one of life’s great pleasures. Not only is it a pleasure for us to watch (unless you are melissophobic or lepidopterophobic of course!), it is also hugely beneficial to all those insects too!

 

Bees have to work really hard to find a little nectar, so imagine their delight at flying into a garden that is jam packed with nectar rich flowers.

 

Sadly, all too often gardens are filled with the more spectacularly coloured modern flowers that are devoid of nectar.

 

Just imagine the bee, having flown into this incredible spectacle of colour, and finding there is nothing to eat. It’s a bit like walking into a supermarket and finding everything there is either an empty box or a plastic vegetable!

 

butterfly campaign

 

Time for a soapbox moment:

 

  • Gardens aren’t just for use to admire – they are vital sources of food

    and shelter for all our native wildlife.

     

  • Flowers did not evolve for humans to enjoy, but most modern flowers are only designed for humans to enjoy. 

 

  • Bee use UV light to find flowers – if they can’t see them they won’t find them.  (flowers in UV look amazing & utterly different)

 

  • Butterflies taste with their feet – so how good do modern plants taste to a butterfly? 

 

  • Many modern flower hybrids contain little or no nectar to feed insects – it has been bred out (in it’s place, brighter colours and more petals). 

 

What is the point of a flower that cannot do what a flower is supposed to do?

 

At PlantPlots, we firmly believe that gardens should look beautiful, but not at the expense of our native wildlife. Before you head off to the garden centre this spring, please pause for a moment. Ask yourself, is the flower useful and pretty or is it just a pretty face?

 

We are not advocating that everyone stops buying bedding plants nor indeed boycotts hybrids or highly developed flowers. Instead we are asking that you limit their numbers in your garden.

 

If 80% of the plants in your garden were nectar rich and easy for bees and butterflies to feed from, there would be plenty of food.  It would not matter what the remaining 20% consisted of!

 

PlantPlots is a new online garden design service with a twist. We provide lots of design recipes for great ‘tasting’ garden borders that are both beautiful AND beneficial. All are available to download.

 

Now obviously we have posted this article to encourage you to look through our designs (and hopefully buy one..or two!). But even if you are not interested in shopping, we hope you might consider butterflies and bees more when you go out plant buying this year.

 

After all – who are flowers really for?

 

butterfly taste 13

Right Plant….Wrong Place!

Are you a Right Plant…Wrong Place expert!

 

looking good

We’ve all done it….we’ve planted a lovely plant in what we thought was the perfect spot, and then it all started going wrong!

 

Delicate climbers turn into voracious triffids, the few bulbs you popped in the corner have re-appeared – everywhere, or that beautiful gorgeous flowered plant that you popped over there is now a mass of sickly looking twigs…is this sounding familiar?

The key to getting the plants to behave properly, is to plant them in the right place at the beginning – and that means the right place in terms of light and moisture but it also is important to have the right soil for the plant to thrive too.

At PlantPlots we believe that our gardening advice should be really useful and practical – especially if you aren’t the most expert in the garden, so to help we’ve created some simple soil guides.

We want to help you promote you from the realms of Right Plant Wrong Place Expert and propel you towards becoming a true gardening guru! ….

Well be a better gardener anyway…but at least you will have a better understanding of what to plant or not!

PlantPlots ‘rule of thumb’ guides to getting it right….from the start!

Good Soil 2 Clay soil Poor soil Sandy soil Acidic soil

 

Simply click the images to view and then download the guide – it’s all free advice.

 

There are however, some simple rules you can apply to help reduce the number of goof-ups, that will apply regardless of soil type:

 

10 tips to avoid ‘Right Plant – Wrong Place’ problems:

These rules apply for the average sized UK garden by the way (those lucky people with huge gardens don’t have to worry so much about how big plants can get or how fast!)

 

Don’t impulse buy at the Garden Centre.

 

Any plant label that says ‘Vigorous’ should be planted with care.

 

Any plant that grows beyond 12ft should also be planted with even more care.

 

‘Good for Naturalising’ is not good in a small garden!

 

Plant ‘Self Seed Experts’ downwind of the patio.

 

Bedding Plants may look great in the Garden Centre – but do you really have enough time and enthusiasm to maintain the required pampering regime to keep them looking that good?

 

Don’t just fill a gap in the border with anything you can find – it probably won’t work!

 

Don’t fight your garden’s natural environment – if you want an easier lower maintenance garden, then work with what you have. Your plants will perform better and tend to misbehave less.  

 

Check the ‘size in 5’ BEFORE you plant it! If it says 20 feet tall in 5 years, then that is what it will be.

 

If the plant’s not thriving where it is, don’t be afraid to move it to somewhere better.

 

If however, you really can’t (or don’t have the time) to plan the right plants for your garden…. you could cheat and try one of our designs. Think of them a bit like recipes for the garden, simply have a browse and download the ‘recipe’ you like the best!

 

Drawing1

You may as well plant plastic flowers instead – many modern plants have no food for foraging insects.

Bee Friendly Gardens

Bee Friendly Gardens are absolutely vital – read on to see if yours is up to the mark and what to do if it’s not!

 

bee-blog

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”  Albert Einstein

 

That’s a scary statement – but it’s pretty much true.

 

So we really need to help maintain the bee populations globally.

Although we can’t quickly influence government policy on the use of pesticides or convince supporters of GM crops and super intensive farming methods to take a more environmentally sensitive view just yet, you can still do your bit to help.

 

The flowers and plants in your garden – how many of them can the bees feed from – easily?

 

dahlia cutout  Gaillardia_fanfare_centered       bee friendly_edited-1

Avoid highly overbred flowers, they are usually sterile and have little or no nectar.

Flowers that are created by plant breeders for human satisfaction rarely (if at all) help feed beneficial insects  in your garden. You might as well fill the garden with plastic flowers – they’re just as useless! 

I planted these this year – red pelargoniums, because they looked pretty…but that’s all they did – look pretty.

Not one insect landed there, fed from them or even noticed them!

 

So what do you need to do:

 

Don’t keep spraying stuff!  – sprays kill everything, it isn’t selective about what it kills. Does it really matter that much, if there are a few holes in petals or leaves? 

 

borage flower crop

Choose flowers that are more natural looking  – so nice open petals and more natural looking colour combinations.

 

Make sure something is in flower all year round – There are lots of flowers that provide food for insects in winter, click here for a list

 

Lastly but most importantly – don’t just regard the garden as an ‘outside room’, think of it also as ‘their home’. You will find you tend to be more tolerant of Nature and you will begin to enjoy the little world you have outside more.

 

Oh and if you don’t believe there is a crisis in the bee population, have a read, I know it is an American article, but much of it is true for here to.

At PlantPlots, we chose all the plants we use in our border designs carefully, we try to use plants that are not only lower maintenance and fairly disease resistant, but that are also good sources of nectar. So it’s a win win, you get beautiful border designs and the insects will love coming to visit to.

V3 real gardeners and spray  

We’ve more articles to read to; All on creating a more insect friendly and bio-diverse garden.

How ‘Green’ are Bedding Plants?

Who are flowers really for?

Which Flowers are best for bees,

Gardens are for Life, not just for Show

What about the Bugs?

What does your front garden say about you?

What does your front garden say about you – 

more importantly does it say what you want it to say?

 

front-garden-talking

 

We believe that everyone can have a lovely front garden even if you can’t afford to spend very much. We have always tried to show you how you can achieve a gorgeous garden with only a small amount of effort and having only spent what you can easily afford.

Here is a typical modern front garden, a little unloved maybe, but maybe that’s because the owner doesn’t know what to do with it – so it’s just left as grass.dull shady front

Not very homely though is it, and it can be so much nicer.

Incidentally, an attractive front garden not only makes you feel better when you come home, it can also add value to your house – so it is really worth making a little effort.

Tips to remember:

 

  • Don’t have prickly or spiky plants!
  • Don’t have fast growing climbers around entrances (unless you love pruning).
  • Consider permeable paving under the car to help prevent flash flooding.
  • If the space is small – ditch the lawn, it will rarely look fantastic.
  • Use tall pots for planting – they are less likely to trip over at night!
  • Tall pots also raise the plants to right under your nose – so use plenty of scented plants to cheer you up when you get home.
  • Use the colour of the house and front door to choose your colour theme.
  • If you plant shrubs, make sure they are interesting all year round.
  • Use bulbs to change the ‘mood’ over the seasons.
  • Be a bit different, make your ‘front’ a trend setter!
  • Use fairy lights or solar lights – they are a lot more welcoming than a security light!
  • Scent, scent and more scent….unless you are a hayfever sufferer.
  • Pottering in the front garden is a great way to start to chat to the neighbours.

 

This weekend, step out the front and look back to your door and just ask – what does this garden say about me?

Blue flowers

Gardening is not difficult, but if you don’t know much about plants it is difficult to know where to begin. That’s where we can help, we have loads of designs for front gardens (and back ones too) so why don’t you get a little inspiration and make a statement in your front garden.

New-product-page-design-1-3

Garden Problems – Misbehaving Gardens!

Garden Problems: Is your garden misbehaving itself and how can you sort it out?

 

misbehaving garden

Much as we’d all love one of these….

 

White show garden

Most of us usually end up with something more like this…

peoples-gardens-55

So what can you do to get your garden behaving itself?

We all have garden problems, even Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh will have had many, but not getting on top of those garden problems will usually mean they start to get on top of you instead.

We all see these glossy images of the most beautiful and bountiful gardens and it’s hard not to feel somewhat disappointed when looking at your own back garden/jungle and wonder whether you can ever really get something that looks (and stays) looking good all year without the expert designers or full time gardeners on hand.

Well of course you can.

The key to a lovely garden that works for you, is how good you are a ‘refereeing’, what sort of team you have on the pitch to start with and how well you understand the rules!

Gardening is a process, there is no start or finish to a garden, it is a living breathing entity, so plants will die and others will try to take over, you need to make sure you know how to remain in charge!

Read our guides to ‘righting the wrongs’ in your garden.

flops  taking over  thriving  uninspiring

Or for a little extra helping hand …you can ‘cheat’ and buy one of our lovely ready made border designs instead – that way you know it will all work – hurrah!

 

happier gardens

Make your garden look like a Chelsea Show Garden

Chelsea Show Garden

 Want one of these?

RHS show Garden

But have one of these….

not quite a show garden

In my previous post on Chelsea show gardens, we looked at why it will be nigh on impossible to recreate a show garden at home but that we could take on board bits of the gardens to create a bit more glamour at home.

 

The gardens on show at Chelsea are packed with dozens of varieties of plants, in some cases over a hundred different plant species in one 100m sq garden – all of which creates that wow factor.  However recreating the look of the garden is not quite as simple as choosing some of the plants used and popping them all together in a border, you need to be a bit more bold. It is how the plants are used that creates the ‘wow’ factor at Chelsea, so to try and capture some of the magic in your own garden, you are going to have to shake things up a bit.

 

This year, spirals are in, as are plant humps and monoliths, but Chelsea show gardens don’t really have lawns and most back gardens need a lawn – they are vital if you have kids, pets, washing lines or enjoy sunbathing. As a result, you can’t use all that a show garden produces, but you can adapt it around your existing garden, but you have to be a little more creative with what is usually the most dominant feature in the garden, the lawn.

 

‘Chelsea-fying’ the lawn

 

Many gardens of whatever shape or size tend to adopt a ‘centrifugal’ pattern for the border – the theory (incorrectly) is it maximises the usefulness of the garden; it doesn’t.

centrifugal-gardenIt is really difficult to get the planting scheme  to have any real drama if all you can do is plant everything in a straight line around the fences.

There are lots of simple design shapes that will make the garden look a whole lot more interesting because you can create a deep enough border and thus combine the plants more effectively; so it resembles more closely a show style of garden. Combine your plants into bigger deeper borders to create more impact – it’s much better than a centrifuge garden!

 

narrow entrance offset oval Square corners

 

In all these lawn shapes, you still have plenty of space for grass, but now you also have a deeper border and that’s how you can begin to create real impact.

 

Reach for the sky!

 

Most humans are about 5-6ft tall, so when we look ahead, we look at things first that are directly in front of our eyes – things that are about 5-6 ft tall. You need eye-catching plants or structures in the garden that are 5-6ft tall. By including these, you will notice less the other structures that are 5-6ft tall around you – your fences.

 

chelsea 1000 pxAll of these design drawings for Chelsea use height, your eyes are made to look up and down to see all that is there.

 

You can use plants and or monoliths, sculpture or art to create this type of interest, you can also use small trees, but choose carefully, trees have a habit of dropping leaves, fruit and reduce light levels.

 

Putting it into practice.

It’s all very well saying all this stuff, but what if your garden really is a rather unattractive fence enclosed plot of nothingness – make that a Chelsea garden!

Case in point here, a really tiny space, with a dominant brick wall and an artwork of drainpipes for a view.

brick wall back yard

Firstly we need to include some stylish features, that make the space more interesting and that provides something to look at.

small-courtyard-plan

 So we have a basic shape and a reasonably good sized border, that still leaves enough space for a table and chairs. Incidentally (& garden purists please stop reading the next line) ditch the lawn, if you want green grass in a lawn this size, go artificial or use shingle.

 

Now to plant, the thing to remember about show gardens, is they use huge variety of plants, many of which won’t be suited to a small garden – ie speed spreaders, ‘buy one get thousands free’ type plants or even worse the plant ‘triffids’.… Show gardens only last a week, so any plant rebels in there don’t have time to begin a rebellion.

Download “Chelsea inspired border design” Chelsea-inspired-pdf-2016.pdf – Downloaded 135 times – 3 MB

The upshot is that although you may want to use the actual plants, it may be better to use other plants more suitable that give the same effect. 

To see what plants we’ve used to create these borders simply click on the download.

 

white-shade-small-garden-ch sunset-colours pink-and-magenta-small-gard

So you can create a wow factor in any size garden, albeit in small spaces there is probably only enough space for one ‘wow’, it’s a whole lot better than staring at a fence!

We make gardening easier!

Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Can you make a Chelsea Flower Show Garden at home?

 

Blue flowers

 

It’s show season & the horticultural world is gearing up for the biggest & most prestigious of all…. Chelsea Flower Show 2016.

 

We, as ‘garden mortals’, are going to look on in wonder at the ability of the professional horticulturalists and garden designers to produce the most amazing and utterly perfect looking plants. We will gaze upon beautifully constructed gardens that look like they have grown there for years and marvel at how they do all this, in just a few short weeks.

 

We will listen to experts eulogise over plants and the show gardens and tell us how we can be inspired to have a go at home…..but is this fanciful talk or could we really produce a garden of show standard beauty in our own back gardens?

Before we look at whether we can, what makes a show garden so spectacular?

Well the most obvious point, is that on average, show gardens can cost up to £250,000 and with an approximate size of 100m sq – that’s a whopping £2,500 spent per square metre! 

 

hampton court show garden

 

So clearly barring a lottery win, this is out of reach for the vast majority.

 

Chelsea Show ground, for much of the year, is a large open expanse of green, which is utterly transformed every year by an army of landscapers, builders and garden designers. This give the designer a distinct advantage over the rest of us, they all have a totally blank canvas to work with. 

 

Designers don’t have to fit a border around the tree roots creeping in from next door’s garden, nor do they have to consider how to disguise the ugly shed in the corner or prop up a derelict fence. It is so much easier to design a beautiful garden if you don’t have to compromise on anything!

 

Other key points that raise the show garden above the norm include planting density, you don’t ever see bare soil in a show garden. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to fill every patch of my garden with plants; the problem arising here though is that if you don’t fill with plants…the garden happily fills the space with weeds!

 

Plant perfection, plants are expensive, we buy in 2’s and 3’s usually. Growing plants for a show involves growing hundreds at a time and picking only the best few for the show.

 

Lastly, and probably most importantly, most if not all the plants on show have been ‘tampered with’, now by this I mean that plants are kept in artificial conditions (heat to accelerate growth and flowering or cool to restrict the flowering), so by the time Chelsea arrives, all the plants behave a bit like racehorses in the starting gate, champing at the bit to all burst forth and flower….

 

So in your garden at home, you will not be able to reproduce the flowering intensity you see at Chelsea, in a normal environment your plants will flower as and when they should.

 

Now before you are disappointed, consider this, Chelsea is all about the show – and it lasts for 1 week. So if the following week all the plants have finished flowering it doesn’t matter – but in your garden it does, you want it to look pretty darn good for more than 5 days in the year.

 

Show gardens are the ‘Supermodels’ of the gardening world, we know they look fab, we’d love to look like one but we all know we haven’t the time, patience, money or the right body shape to be one. However, we can all take a few elements from the supermodels catwalk show and make ourselves feel a bit more glamorous.

 

chelsea 1000 px

These are just some of the design drawings for this years show, so what are the trends and the best bits you can take with you.

It easier if you break it down into 3 categories, colours, shapes and fashion.

 

Colour: Aside from greens, pale pinks, blues, magenta, a hint of copper tones, oranges and the colours of a sunset are popular.

 

harrod planting style M&G planting style Hartley botanic planting style Brewin Dolphin planting scheme

 

Shapes: Spirals and plant humps (as opposed to ball shapes) are in, formal ponds and straight water runways and monoliths; large tall structures that rise above the planting and there’s not a lot of lawn on show!

 

Fashions: The vast majority of the flowers used serve a dual purpose, not only are they pretty to look at but more importantly they provide a food source for wildlife. Gone are the big, complex flower heads – instead there is a focus on the natural shapes and colours of flowers.

 

Gardens are looking more natural, the plants look as though they could have self seeded and grown there on their own, (don’t be fooled though – this look is a product of expert plantsmanship), but it looks like we could recreate this at home.

Wildflowers and ferns are combined with delicate flowers to create a much more free flowing style of garden. It all looks very relaxed and not terribly manicured. The plants used are less showy, less ostentatious and aren’t high maintenance plant divas.

 

The overall result is to create a garden you can relax in, the plants seem to do the work all by themselves, leaving you free to wander round your estate with a glass of something nice; which is precisely the effect the designer has spent many sleepless nights trying to achieve for you.

 

So, what bits do I use?

 

This is where we start to take a look at personal taste and how things would fit in your garden.  The colour scheme is entirely a personal choice, but just like decorating the inside of your house, have a colour theme. Green is the background colour but then have no more than 3 colours for the border. This year designers have combined cerise, magenta and pale pinks, also bronzes, oranges and purples, or pale blues, soft pinks and cream colours.

 

All the planting in the designs is in layers, the plants generally rise to mid thigh height, the second layer is created with tall monoliths. You could use natural materials such as stone or wood or you could be more creative and use sculptures or screens. The idea being, the low level planting moves and sways in contrast to the monolith. Then over all the canopy of small trees holds your eyeline inside the garden.

 

The key point is that you can’t recreate the effect of a show stopping garden with only the plants, you have to be a bit bold and make a statement. Be different from the neighbours gardens.

 

Where in the manual of gardening does it state lawns have to rectangular and lie parallel to the fences, or that one has to have a hedge that’s solid and green and 6 feet tall.

 

The whole purpose of a show garden, just like a fashion show, is to open your eyes and make you think differently. You don’t need a Chelsea Show garden at home but that doesn’t mean yours can’t become a show garden either.

 

So have a colour plan, make sure you create enough depth and width in a border. It is better to have one deep border that  has real impact than a long thin border by the fence. Stand in the garden and look at the border – what do you see that’s directly in front of your eyes, the fence? If so, ‘plant’ something tall.

 

Most importantly remember it’s your garden, if you love what’s there, then who is anyone else to say that it’s not quite the done thing…?

 

heligan head

We make gardening easier

Mini-Makeovers :- Garden Ideas for Tiny Back Yards

Garden Ideas: Tiny Back Yards or Courtyards

 

When space is tight, it can be tricky to make a garden or even to try to have anything that resembles a garden, sadly all too often, the courtyard consists of a couple of bins, the odd bicycle and maybe a threadbare patch of less than immaculate lawn!

 

But it doesn’t have to be this way….so how do you do it!

 

Firstly, have a plan….now this may sound blindingly obvious, but the temptation to wander into the nearest garden centre to find some plants you like and then try and fit them into the space you have usually leads to disappointment.

courtyard-gdn---sunset-boul

In the image, we have gone big & bold with pots. This garden is dominated by a rather unattractive concrete path, so to tone down the concrete colour scheme, we have dug up the tiny lawn and replaced it with grey shingle. Then the fence panels have been painted a soft mossy green colour (which is unassuming and easy on the eye). All this creates a muted background for you to go a bit wild with the planting.

The key point with the planting is to make it really bold and colourful so that you don’t notice the grey path as much and the plants are quite tall which create more impact. The purples, oranges and greens (see our MiniPlots ranges) now hold your visual attention.

We have also hidden the bins behind a small trellis and have of course added a hedgehog hole to help our furry friends forage from garden to garden.

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The second image paints a totally different picture. If pots are not your thing, as plants in pots do require more looking after, we thought we’d do a plan using one of our Fab Fronts designs (as they can be used in the back too!).

The most obvious new feature is a lawn, however, grass in small spaces gets an awful lot of traffic and can quickly resemble a mud patch, so we have artificial grass. The garden purists amongst you may feel this is not gardening, but the aim here is to create an usable and attractive outside space for as much of the year as possible.

 

The fence panels have also been painted black which is a great colour to use as a backdrop in the garden. Foliage colours stand out brilliantly against the dark background.

 

Space for planting is obviously limited, in this case the only real area is alongside the path. The temptation can be to plant low growing plants so they don’t take up too much room, but this is a mistake. If you plant low down, all you will see looking out of the window is a fence, there will be nothing that grabs your eyeballs and says ‘look at me’!

 

In addition a couple of pots have been added opposite the back door with drought tolerant plants (in case you forget to water as often as you should) and because the fence is now the same colour as the bin you don’t notice your bins now either.

£1.49 we make easier

 

Garden Ideas: Brightening up your dreary bits!

Garden Ideas: Dull, dark & dreary gardens.

 

Not all of us have wonderful sun-filled gardens and to be honest a bit of shade is always welcome, but what if your garden is just shaded. It can easily appear dull dark and rather dreary – so how do you go about brightening up your dreary bits. Luckily we have a few garden ideas and tips to help!

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What do you see here, (which is a drawing of someone’s garden) that’s eye catching and interesting? Probably not a lot, the path steps up the slope and goes nowhere, the fence on the left is visually dominant and the patio retaining walls have been painted a rather interesting shade of chartreuse!

However, all is not lost, this can be made to look a whole to more interesting without remodelling the entire garden, how…well read on!

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We’ve used plants from our upcoming MiniPlots designs that are suited to shady places, now admittedly you will need more than than the miniplot designs use, but these can be planted over time rather than all at once.

The key principle here is to create something visually more interesting, so your eye looks at that and thus notices the ugly bits less. In shade, there is only really one colour for flowers to choose and that’s white – especially if the plants flower in summer.  In the spring, this whole area can be planted with bulbs that will flower before the trees come into leaf. Keep to a colour palette, but yellow, blue and white are a tried and tested early spring colour combo’ that always looks good.

The hard edges of the retaining wall have been softened by using lush green leaves and powder blue coloured pots.  You still notice the fence on the left, but hopefully not as much as the white flowerheads on the right.

Another great way to improve the light levels in a garden is to ‘lift the crown’ of the trees, basically you cut off the lower branches to allow sunlight in.

So hopefully you can see that with a little thought (and a perhaps a PlantPlots design), your garden’s dreary bits can have a total revamp that won’t break the bank.

£1.49 we make easier

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