Creating a Mediterranean Garden

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...

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Long, narrow gardens and other awkward shapes

Polystichum munitum, Myosotis sylvatica, the frosted foliage of Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost and new buds opening on Centaurea monana - woodland plants from the Weatherstaff garden design software

When is a triangle not a triangle?

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.

We ended up making the lawn area smaller, with...

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Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 4

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) for flower borders

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Read: Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Annuals and Self-Seeders

Cottage gardens are all about abundance of planting and random drifts of colour. Ground covering plants weave through the planting, spilling over border edges and stitching everything together. In the same way, scattering the seeds of annuals amongst the permanent planting will plug any gaps and contribute to the random charm of the design.

Annuals are plants which germinate, flower and set seed all in one year. They die after flowering, but many will helpfully self-seed leaving a...

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Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 3

Rosa Generous Gardener perfect for cottage garden planting plan

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Read: Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1 | Part 2

Vertical Accents

By their very nature, cottage gardens are charmingly informal and unstructured. A sea of colourful flowers all swaying at the same height could end up lacking interest and a focal point, but, fortunately, several of the classic cottage garden plants naturally provide striking architectural structure, in the form of tall spires of flowers.

Hollyhocks, delphiniums and foxgloves all create vertical accents amongst low-growing flowers.

Delphiniums are stately perennials in ravishing shades of blues, pinks and mauves, as well as white. They are...

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Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 2

Coreopsis verticillata Grandiflora

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Read: Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1

The Daisies

Traditional cottage garden favourites are daisy-style flowers, such as asters, fleabane daisies, coreopsis and echinacea.

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Grandiflora’ has cheery yellow, starry flowerheads, carried in abundance on wiry stems in summer.

Asters come in shades of white, pink, purple and blue. I love Aster pyrenaeus ‘Lutetia’, for its starry flowerheads in palest lilac, with yellow centres. It has a long flowering season from mid-summer to mid-autumn and is completely resistant to powdery mildew – a disease which plagues many asters.

Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican Fleabane) is...

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Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1

Exuberant planting in a cottage style landscape design

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Planting will be exuberant, with self-seeding annuals and low-maintenance perennials packed in together and spilling over border edges. Climbers scramble over fences, garden gates and trees.

Historically, gardens for pleasure were the preserve of the wealthy. Cottage gardens were for the poorer levels of society and were purely functional. The first cottage gardens met the needs of early tenant farmers, by providing the vegetables, herbs and fruit which formed the mainstay of their diet.

Vegetables included garlic, onions, cabbages and beans. A fruit tree here and there offered shade, as well as its crops of...

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How much did you spend the last time you went to the garden centre?

The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner - garden design software

Did you just cast your eyes down and look a little bit sheepish then?

Plants are enticing, beguiling little things. They whisper: “Buy me! Put me in your trolley! See that gorgeous little flowery thing over there which matches my colours so beautifully. Buy us both! And you too will have an award-winning show garden border in your back yard.”

In May 2014, the Independent wrote that Britons will spend an average of £30,000 on their gardens over a lifetime, with a third of that amount going on plants, “often fuelled by impulse buys on garden centre visits”. That figures…

I remember a friend of mine proudly showing off her flower bed to me. She’d just moved in to her...

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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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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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