Spring is (not yet) sprung!

Narcissus Tête-à-Tête - spring border ideas from Weatherstaff

I’m not too great when it comes to delayed gratification. I want spring – and I want it now!

Actually, I wanted it a couple of weeks ago. I like the changing of the seasons. I love autumn colours and crisp winter days, but now, I’d like the seasons to change again.

With the arrival of February, spring seemed almost within the grasp of my gardening-gloved hand. And really, February’s such a little month to endure. Those missing few days at the end of February mean that by mid-month, it’s almost over! There’s Valentine’s Day, too, slap in the middle, to cheer us up with chocolates and flowers. Suddenly, supermarket shelves are laden with bunches and baskets of flowers. Garden...

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Celebrating the Lily of the Valley – La Fête du Muguet

Tall vases of Lily of the Valley from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner blog

May 1st – International Workers’ Day or Labour Day – is a public holiday in many parts of the world. It coincides with the much older traditional festival of May Day – springtime festivities, associated with May Queens and ribbon-dancing around the maypole. In France, it is also the Fête du Muguet, the day when the little Lily of the Valley, with its delicate sprays of white bells, is elevated to the position of celebrated star for the day.

The earliest May Day celebrations honoured the ancient Roman goddess of flowers, Flora, and flowers inevitably feature in many of the traditions associated with this day. Traditionally, “May baskets”, containing flowers or sweets, were given at this time of year. They...

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On a Hunt for Winter Colour

Winter is not all bare branches and empty garden borders! Camera in hand, I set myself the challenge of tracking down plants which brighten up the dead days of winter.

Even when frosted with ice or with a sprinkling of snow, holly can be relied on to provide deep greens and rich red berries. Ivy and mistletoe complete the trio of festive evergreens.

In the medieval, walled town of Pérouges, in eastern France, I spotted a collection of window boxes which combined Christmas baubles and pine cones with winter pansies and cyclamen. When it’s time to take down the Christmas decorations, the pansies and cyclamen continue to brighten up the window sills.

Decorating the house walls above them, traditional bunches...

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5 Easy Containers for Stunning Winter Colour

Container for winter interest

With leaden skies and the days getting shorter and colder, it was time to inject a splash of colour on our front door step!

1. Skimmia, heuchera and winter pansies

A trip to the local garden centre is a great pick-me-up at any time of year, but on a chilly November day it was a heart-warming experience! Fairy lights twinkled and deliciously cute, fluffy rabbits waved from their glittery warrens as I passed through the Christmas grotto and out into the plant sales area. Of course, there wasn’t the huge array of colourful flowers you’d find at other times of the year. Still, there was plenty of choice for garden lovers hoping to cheer up their winter flower beds –...

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Autumn Colours

Autumn Leaves - Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner

The trees are looking spectacular at the moment and it’s hard to resist taking yet another photograph of the glowing colours at canopy level. But down on the ground, there are some hardy perennials which are still flowering their socks off!

Here’s my choice for the best 5 perennials for autumn colour.

Helenium

These are stunning perennials with daisy-like flowers on an upright, clump-forming plant. They flower profusely from mid-summer into the autumn.

Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ has glorious autumnal colours – fiery orange-red rays surrounding a velvety brown central disc. The rays reflex strongly as the flowers age. It has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

‘Pipsqueak’ has yellow rays surrounding a velvety yellow and...

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A Guide to Plant Types for Beginner Gardeners

Crocuses - spring bulls perfect for naturalising in grass

If you’re just a new green shoot in the world of gardening, you’ll find there’s a whole new language to learn!

Seasoned gardeners will casually mention their tender perennials, talk of lifting their corms and dividing their tubers, or bemoan the chlorosis of their blueberries. If you’re nodding sagely, thinking yes, that reminds me – must go and do a bit of rhizome splitting and add sequestered iron to the shopping list, then this blog post is clearly not for you.

On the other hand, if you’re not sure whether they are discussing their ailments or brass bands, then you may find this post helpful!

When I potted up my first large container, I chose some flowers from the garden...

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Move On Up!

Actinidia kolomikta in landscape plan

Sultry, seductive, with a slight hint of chocolate – my first climbing plant was Akebia quinata. I fell in love with its photograph and set off to track one down for my very own!We had just invested in a beautiful pergola. It was delivered – a collection of posts and panels and a hefty stash of 3in nails – and assembled by a local builder. It was all looking rather good. Until the moment when we realised that we still had a rather large collection of nails and, on closer inspection, discovered that the builder had gone home before securing the rafters. And, right on cue, came the first gust of wind and rumble of thunder. The pergola’s first night...

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Secret Garden

Stepping stones landscape design ideas

When the children were small, I was quite taken with the idea of creating pathways around the garden. Trails for chasing round and doubling back on. Routes for Easter Egg Hunts. A pergola, clothed in climbers, providing hiding places for leaping out of on dark nights. For small children, plants didn’t need to grow very high before they could be ducked behind and screen someone in a game of Hide and Seek.

One year, we had a Princess and Prince themed birthday party held in the garden. The highlight was a game we devised which entailed leading the party-goers one by one around the stepping stone pathways on a hunt to slay the dragon. The children waited, quivering with excitement...

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Winter Scents

Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena garden design

No one wants their garden borders to be a muddy, lifeless patch in winter! Though a touch of frost can transform the dullest of gardens into a magical wintry landscape, most gardeners aim to create an outdoor space, with delights which are less transitory.

Choosing plants for winter interest usually means selecting attractive skeleton forms or handsome evergreen foliage, picking out plants with winter flowers or looking for colourful stems and interesting bark. All of these can make the winter garden a pleasure to view from your kitchen window.

When you get up close and personal though, it will be those heady winter scents which engage the senses and lift the spirit. With pollinators few and far between, the flowers...

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Sky-high Water Garden

The Water Garden at night from Weatherstaff landscape design software

I’ve visited lots of gardens, but The Water Garden at Emquartier – slap bang in the middle of a luxury shopping mall and five storeys above the city streets – was a new experience for me.

EmQuartier is Bangkok’s brand new shopping mall, next to Phrom Phong BTS station and just across Sukhumvit Road from the well-established (and recently renovated) Emporium mall. Alongside the modern glass and chrome architecture, there’s been a real effort to create breathing green spaces on every level.

Outdoor walkways connect the different zones and from these vantage points, as well as superb views of the city, you can spot the foliage of the Water Garden high up in the Helix Quartier and an impressive waterfall,...

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