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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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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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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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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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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Finding the Perfect Plant – Deep Shade

Cornus canadensis shady garden plan

Some plants are particularly versatile and unfussy, making themselves at home and seeming to thrive wherever they come to rest. Most plants however have a preference for a particular set of growing conditions or cannot cope if the temperature gets too high or the water supply too low. Keen gardeners may relish the challenge of coaxing a particular favourite plant to prosper, but if you don’t have the time to lovingly cosset your choice specimens, getting the plants in the right place to start with is the way to go.

Plants for Deep Shade

If your garden is dark and gloomy on even the brightest day, you may have resigned yourself to a colour palette ranging from forest green to...

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Low Maintenance Gardening

Ajuga and Galium Easy Care Garden Ideas Blog

What I need is a full time gardener! Plus a cleaner, cook and handyman/woman. Then a nanny to take care of my children and present them to me, scrubbed and fed, for a goodnight hug.

No, not really. Like lots of people, I think I thrive on the adrenaline-fuelled daily adventure. Can I tick off all the jobs on my to-do list by bedtime? Not a chance! But for job-satisfaction, there has to be an element of manageability. The possibility that I can get through at least most of the essential tasks before the end of the day.

I love to race out into the garden and pit my weeding fork against the clock. I start off in early spring...

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Heralds of Spring

Snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis Gardening Software Blog

December’s snow and ice have given way to rain and mud here in the Forest of Dean and, while I’ll be more than happy to dig out the toboggans again if the weather turns Arctic once more, for the meantime I’ve been seduced into thinking that maybe spring is just around the corner.

A prowl around the garden and – yes, the first white bulbs are appearing amongst the green shoots along the hedgerow. The snowdrops – harbingers of spring – are well on their way.

From late January, gardens all around the country start welcoming visitors keen to take advantage of that brief time of year when the ground is carpeted with a blanket of snowdrops.

Family days out...

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