Woodland gardens invoke all our senses at once. Sun dappling through leaves, a shady respite on a hot summer’s day, birdsong, damp earth, rustling leaves. Spending time here can help us relax, slow down and breathe more deeply. It’s good for our souls.
If you have trees and shrubs casting shade in your garden, then you already have the makings of a woodland garden. And if not, then there’s nothing to stop you creating a woodland garden from scratch. Create a little copse of trees, by planting 2 or 3 suitable specimens close together, and underplant with shade-loving perennials and bulbs. For an instant impact, you can buy semi-mature trees which will provide immediate height and structure.
There will be roses, of course, and they must have an old-fashioned scent. David Austin’s roses are renowned for their excellent range of colour, combined with the ability to repeat-flower and the fragrance of old garden roses.
Rosa Falstaff is a fragrant shrub rose, with deep crimson petals. It grows to 1.25m high.
The Generous Gardener is a climbing rose, growing to 4.5m. Its pale pink blooms carry a delicious Old Rose fragrance. It has...
Romantic Garden – who wouldn’t want one? Can you picture it in your mind’s eye? You will probably be wearing something from the 18th century and inhaling the intoxicating scent of roses. The garden will be delightful not just to look at, but also to smell, hear, touch, perhaps even taste.
So what does the garden actually look like? Romantic gardens are more ordered than the haphazard jostling of a cottage garden.
They may be formal – think Lady Someone’s Walk in the grounds of a stately home – or more relaxed. In fact, they could be a mixture of both. Neatly trimmed box hedges and topiary balls combined with billowing drifts of flowering shrubs and fragrant perennials.
18,000 years ago, the cave at Lascaux, in southwestern France, was visited by a group of prehistoric hunters who set about creating their masterpieces. With pieces of iron oxide, manganese oxide, charcoal and kaolin, and using the cave walls as their canvas, they painted their subterranean cathedral.
In earthy shades of reds, browns and yellows, nearly one thousand animal figures – horses, aurochs, bison and red deer – clamber, jump and charge across the walls of the underground gallery. The story of how the cave entrance was discovered in 1940, in a country ravaged by war, by an 18 year old boy and his dog, seems almost as much a fairy tale as the idea of prehistoric man, clutching his...
Last spring, I decided it was time to give my little courtyard a make-over, by potting up three matching containers. My challenge was to choose plants which would provide interest all year round and continue to look good the following year. It was hard work restraining myself over the cold months but, eventually, in early spring, I allowed myself to indulge in my favourite pastime at the garden centre!
Buying plants earlier in the year means that the plants are small – and I did have to take some on faith that they were going to survive and grow more than the one flimsy leaf they came home with – but they are usually cheaper, so you can get a...
Silver-leaved plants often cope well with hot, dry summers. Their silvery, often hairy, foliage reflects the sun’s heat and helps the plant to conserve water. Silver-leaved plants can be attractive focal points in the garden, but they work well with other colours too, making them useful highlight plants in any colour scheme.
Many traditionally Mediterranean plants are silver, of course, such as the glorious olive tree, silvery-grey leaves dancing against deep blue skies and evocative of sun-drenched Mediterranean landscapes. Some, in the list below, though not traditionally from this region, would suit a Mediterranean garden border, due to their tolerance for sun and limited rainfall.
1. Convolvulus cneorum
A small evergreen shrub, 60cm tall. The elegant white flowers...
Hazy lavender, silvery foliage, aromatic herbs – these are the first plants to spring to mind when I think about a Mediterranean garden. But it’s not just the right selection of plants that will conjure up that holiday feeling. It’s the whole caboodle – the laid-back, make the most of the outdoor space, relaxed ambience of a week in Provence – I want to recreate!
For gardeners dealing with the real thing, Mediterranean climates can be problematic – trying to keep a collection of plants alive when every drop of water is precious. Fortunately, many typical Mediterranean plants are drought-tolerant and are often able to cope with nutrient-poor soil. With our increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, growing more drought-tolerant plants in...
In the summer, you can smell the herbs on the air as you head south towards Provence, but our visit at Easter was a tad too early for that. The morning and evening air was chilly, but by mid-morning the sun was hot enough to cast off cardigans and enjoy an alfresco café noisette.
Not too early though for the vines to be in full leaf or for red pelargoniums to be flowering brightly in window boxes at wooden-shuttered windows.
Scented Jasminum officinale – summer jasmine – was already clambering over stone walls and above blue-painted windows in St Rémy de Provence.
I’ve admired the flower displays on French roundabouts before, but here the road islands have a distinctly Provençal...
Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we see it in someone else’s garden!
In all these internet searches every month, what gardeners are looking for is a little inspiration. Pinterest is great for sharing ideas. Try scrolling through some images to see which ones you instinctively fall in love with and start collecting your favourite pictures on your own board.
For thousands of gardening ideas, click here to follow the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner on Pinterest.
Even with a glorious mood board of beautiful images to inspire, though, it’s not always easy to transfer these ideas to our own garden borders. Here are some ideas for creating the garden of your dreams.
Our main garden is an elongated, right-angled triangle, bordered by a wild hedge edging a country lane. When we first moved in, the entire garden was laid to lawn and could be viewed in all its triangular, tapering glory! Pythagoras might have been delighted with the opportunity to experiment with the properties of our triangle. We were more perplexed by the dilemma of how to make a triangle look more like a rectangle!
In our vast expanse of grassness, we were also keen to add interest by creating pathways and hidden areas, as well as planting up flower borders to soften the boundaries.