Tag Archives: blue

Lavender

Lavender serves many purposes in the garden, firstly it reminds you of summer holidays on the continent which is good, secondly it smells wonderful, which is also good, thirdly for the truly industrious amongst you, it provides flowers to dry, add to cooking, put in posies, put in bags to help you sleep etc, which is also good, but by far the best thing it does of all – it is one of the best ‘butterfly bistro’s’ around.

 

My lavender positively hums with life all summer, bees of all shape and size, butterflies, hoverflies and ladybirds in the day and a myriad of moths at night.  It has to be one of the best plants ever and you can get loads of shapes sizes and colours, so if your garden is lavenderless you are really missing out!

 

What would butterflies think v1

 

 

Narrow Alleys and Courtyards

Small Garden Design: Don’t stuff your narrow bits with clutter!

 

Alleyways and narrow gardens are always a little tricky to garden. Two reasons, they are narrow, so too much stuff and it looks cluttered and usually they are in deep shade so don’t see much sun or rain for that matter. So what to do.

 

Take this drawing of a narrow courtyard, there is not much space and because of the high walls around, the sun only reaches halfway down the fence. Now excusing my poor art ability, there are some improvements you can easily make.

 

courtyard alley with mirrors

 

Firstly decide what you are looking at, so where is your main view; through the windows or is it looking down the length of the courtyard? If it is via the windows, then that is where you want the nice stuff to be.  I have also added 3 mirrors to the fence, they will increase the impression of width they also reflect light.  

 

Secondly, as much as possible declutter; use storage to hide stuff away, but whatever you do, make sure that your stuff is not cluttering up your main view.

 

Lastly, when planting raise the levels up. So plant in tall pots, you can see the plants from the window and you also lift them up to better light levels and out of the worst of the rain shadow thus helping them grow better.

 

Here are 3 alternatives, again excuse my graphic design abilities, but you should get the drift.

courtyard and phormiumscourtyard and bamboocourtyard and climber

 

In the first image, I have used tall cream planters and used the same cream and green plants along the whole of the fence. The intention is to create a simple and uncluttered look to the space which uses light colours to prevent it from looking too dark. If the fences are painted the same colour as the planters, then you will increase the impression of width. The plants shed very few leaves and thrive in those conditions, thus helping keep the visual impression clear and clean. It’s downside though is that although you have light coming in from the fence opposite, you are still looking mainly at a fence

 

The second image shows how not to do tall planting. You may want to have a little more privacy, but you will cut out valuable light, have planters prone to being blown over, and the whole effect is to close everything in.

 

The final image on the right, shows how with a few climbers you can really widen the space. The planters and mirrors have been painted the same colour, and because the climbers grow upwards, you retain the visual width. Light can still filter in, as the climber is not to vigorous or dense (some clematis not any montana variety though, would be lovely), the best bit though is as you look out of your main view, you see something lovely!

 

So there you have it, narrow spaces aren’t that difficult, they just need a little more planning and thought to get right. If however, you are still lacking a few ideas, contact us and we will try to help out.

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non scripta)

Bluebells, the British Isles’ vision in spring, I don’t know anyone who does not say ‘oooh how lovely’ when they see a wood with its carpet of blue – well apart from my husband, but I’m sure he thinks it!  They can make wonderful garden plants too, but they do easily spread.

 

However, English bluebells (hyacinthoides non scripta) are being infiltrated by Spanish ones and we don’t really want those as they are not so pretty. So how do you know the difference. English Bluebells; the flowers all hang to one side and the stems ‘nod’, the flowers are small and dainty and have a lovely scent.

 

However, Spanish bluebells are here, and they interbreed with ours creating hybrids: The flowers are just about on one side, but the dainty nod has gone along with most of the smell.

hyacintoides hybrid

A Hybrid

 

Until you meet the Spanish version, flowers standing stiffly to attention and poking out in all directions, and usually no smell at all.

 

hyacinthoides hispanica

Spanish invader!


English bluebells are protected in the countryside so no picking from the wild, they need all the help they can get to stop being ‘bred away’ by the Spanish ones.

So if you want Bluebells, please only buy Hyacinthoides non scripta and know where they come from. Secondly, if you can, get rid of the spanish invaders and their hybrid offspring from your own gardens if you can, it will help slow down the loss of one of our nation’s best loved plants.

 

Forget-me-not (Myosotis)

This is an annual plant, I absolutely love it because it has happy flowers; when forget me not flowers and you know the warm sunshine is just around the corner.

 

The other reason I love it is it seeds everywhere but doesn’t intimidate other plants, it just wriggles in-between them, filling up gaps with little happy blue smiles.

 

By May they look like they have had a hard night on the town, but all I do is pull them up and throw them in the compost heap.

 

If some have seeded before you remove them, then more will pop up next year and you smile all over again!

BEE responsible gardeneers name added

 

Why do we need blue roses?

I don’t know about you, but why is there such an obsession amongst growers to make flowers bloom in every possible colour, it is almost the holy grail of plant breeding to develop the most perfect blue rose – why?

 

There are hundreds of beautiful roses out there, hundreds, which cover the whole of the spectrum of colour except blue, over thousands of years the rose has ignored blue so why do we think we are right and roses wrong?

 

Whenever I have seen at a show an attempt at a ‘blueish’ rose the whole flower looks awful, it’s almost as though the red or yellow primary colours are really required to capture the summer sunshine and reflect it back, but blue seems to absorb all the warmth of the flower.

 

So my beef I suppose is, that we should learn when to and when not to meddle.  I recently saw blue tinted orchids in my local supermarket – they were hideous and so fake looking. Orchid flowers are incredible pretty and evocative, adding a blue rinse to them is just in my opinion tasteless.

 

So let’s concentrate on developing new blooms because they are beautiful or more insect friendly and not because we can!

 

V3 real gardeners and spray

The problem with mixed boxes of plants!

 

One of my pet hates are mixed boxes of bedding plants, because it is so easy to go home and plop everything in one place, and it just looks untidy. 

I mean in your sitting room would you mix pink, white blue yellow and green over brown and grey walls, (I am hoping you all are saying ‘no’ at this point by the way…!), so the same applies outside.

 

mixed bedding la perfumerie makeover

 

Now it may look as though this makeover is a little dull, but it is called “la perfumerie in blue’, I can’t convey scent in a photo obviously, but each of these plant’s flowers or foliage have a lovely smell, so we have mixed silvery grey foliage and darker shades of green with blue flowers ranging from pale blue to the really intense blues – and because the foliage is scented, it still works hard in winter!  The small tombstone stones have been obscured, they don’t really add much to the plot, so best left off I think.

 

 

 

Curves

Small Garden Design: Curves in the garden make it look wider

 

widened garden

The basic idea here is to show you that with only very few plants you can make your garden appear wider. In the image below, the garden is dominated by the view of the fence and there are a few plants around the edges.

blank garden red fence

So what do you see?  Well, what is most noticeable is where the garden boundaries are, your eyes follow the top line of the fence which defines the boundary.

In order to make the garden appear wider, you need to stop your eye being drawn to the long straight lines of the fence.  It has to have something to distract it from the dominance of the fence and the lawn. The easiest way to achieve this is to close in the near view, and break the fence line by allowing plants to grow that rise above it.

Make the Garden appear Wider:

In the redesign, the lawn grows right up to the fences on either side, straight away the garden appears wider. It’s pretty easy to mow right up to the edges these days, but if your mower leaves an strip, a strimmer will remove any untidy bits.  

widened garden

4 shaped beds have been planted in each corner, which are then planted. The plants used need to grow upwards rather than outwards to maximise your available space.

The tall planting narrows your view at this end of the garden. The effect created when you stand at the back door, narrows your view close up. As the grass moves outward from the front beds, you are ‘tricked’ into thinking the width is greater

To reduce the visual impact of the fence, paint it black. This has the effect of making it seem further away, thus helping to make the garden appear bigger.  Depending on the exact shape of the garden, you can make these  beds bigger or change the angle from the fence.

THe end of the fence is still a dominant feature. To improve this a focal point should be added. This could be a beautiful climber, a large pot or a collection of pots, a sculpture, a statue or a table and chairs. If you are thinking about something ‘artistic’ make sure it is large enough, if it’s too small it will look out of scale.

Curves in the garden make the garden appear wider as long as you use a bit of height as well.

Read also:

How to Design my Garden if…..:

It’s all weeds

It’s a city garden

The garden is really narrow

Small! – you couldn’t even ‘swing a cat’

I still have no idea where to begin

I would like the garden to be less boring!

Also : Garden Design for Beginners – help and useful advice on how to get going

happier gardens

Even Garages can be loved!

 

Small Garden Design: Every bit matters, honestly!

peoples gardens (60)

 

OK it’s a garage, it’s a functional space, why bother? Well why not bother too?

 

In my opinion, we can all make the place we live in just a little bit lovelier with a little bit of effort.  I am sure all of you would enjoy the dog walk a little more if there were more little corner’s like this that popped up here and there.

 

So all that has been done is to add one trellis which is painted the same as the garage, I have painted the fence black, as a contrast, and I have added a few really tough easy care plants from the happy plants for where the sun don’t shine’ plot, which will require probably one hour’s sorting out per year which is a lot less than the weekly mow!

 

 garage with happy plants for shade

 

Elymus Majellicus

I have always loved grasses in the garden, I know they can look untidy sometimes, but like my own hair, a quick comb through and all is good again.

 

The absolute best thing about this grass is – it’s blue, and the more sun it has, the more blue it is!  OK it’s not royal or french blue, but it’s more powder blue with a slight industrial grey hint thrown in, but whoever said that grass is green had clearly led a very sheltered life!

 

Anyway, they have to have lots of hot sun, so the nice thing is this is good in pot, go for a bold pot colour to really show off the blue.

 

If you are using it in the garden, then a really striking combination use purple leaved heuchera, ophiopogon, or libertia peregrins. 

 

I wouldn’t plant it next to bigger taller plants or surround it with too much greenery as it will get swallowed up and it loses it’s pzazz factor.

 

ophiopogon lily (3)    Heuchera Plum Pudding   libertia

 

 

 

Making the most of what you have

Small Garden Design: Banish Boring Bits!

Not everyone is blessed with beautiful houses in stunning locations, in fact most of us in the UK live in towns or cities in road after road and they all ens up looking the same. So how do you go about improving the look of your house, without spending a fortune!

 

Improve what you have

 

Two problems arise here, firstly, the rose does look a little lonesome, as well as a little sickly, but also,this house looks as though the architect thought “Oh cripes we haven’t left room for a downstairs toilet, quick build a box on the front of the house!”

 

The owners are saddled with a rather clumsy looking front entrance, with what looks like the toilet window welcoming guests up the path. You can easily improve this, by a: drawing your eye to something nicer and b: softening the square shape.

 

Add a trellis and climber to the end wall, but the main problem of planting climbers against walls is a failure to thrive, as the rose here demonstrates. This is caused by poor air circulation, lack of water and possibly soil contamination from the cement when it was built.

 

Agapanthus and geraniums

 

So when adding planting to a wall you must plant away from the wall, a foot away would be good.  Secondly make sure, when you plant, the soil is rich and dark brown

 

with lots of creepy crawlies in it (this is the sign of healthy soil) if not then you need to enrich it with manure, compost and possibly new topsoil.

Also check the soil is not full of builder’s rubble, as this won’t help either.

 

Finally,  the trellis, paint it a colour that will compliment the wall, (after all this is the first thing people see when they arrive), attach suitably strong brackets to the wall and hang the trellis on these, that way the trellis sits away from the wall allowing air round your plant, then, if you need to get to the wall, you simply unhook the trellis and lay it down.

   

The trellis has been planted with a blue climber which will soften the harshness of the porch, but in addition remove the grass, and added cobble stones instead, these will help retain the moisture in the ground around your new climber, as well as requiring no mowing!

 

A feature pot has been planted with an Agapanthus, which is what draws your attention . This plant will flower blue all summer and thrives on a bit of neglect and so will look lovely in a pot, lastly, I have added blue geraniums in the cobbles, to soften and add a little more interest.

 

agapanthus-flowerhardy-geranium-renardii-flower-1481699

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