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...
Our garden has grown with us. Our youngest child was born within weeks of moving in and spent the first summer being pushed around an empty plot in her buggy. Heavy snowfall that winter meant that her brothers, bundled up in hats and scarves and huddled together on their toboggan, could be pulled up to the highest point of the garden before sailing back down again. Our newly-built house stood in its newly-laid-to-lawn garden, the blank walls bare and the fences freshly painted.
With time, both house and garden settled in, became more lived-in and weathered, more distinctly ours. We dug out our first flower beds and filled skips with all the builders’ rubble which lurked beneath the layer of...
One of life’s great pleasures is taking a morning stroll to admire the day-to-day changes in our patch of Eden. Soft, downy buds appearing on the Magnolia stellata – more numerous with each passing year, the bronzy, unfurling fronds of woodland-loving ferns, the exquisite scent of summer roses, evoking memories of crushing petals to make ‘perfume’ as a child in my grandfather’s garden.
But there is something even more special in observing others sharing our garden with us. Counting the different varieties of butterfly on the dancing clusters of lavender-pink Verbena bonariensis. The low buzz as you pass the lavender border. A thrush, driven by freezing temperatures, squeezing on to the bird table to enjoy its lunch.
Creating a successful planting design for your garden borders can involve hours of decision-making. I know – I’ve put those hours in and scrawled lists of plants on countless sheets of paper and backs of envelopes.
The first step is to know your garden.
1. Go on a fact-finding mission
Check out which areas of the garden catch the sun and at what time of day. In other words, where’s the best place to drink your morning coffee? And is it the same for your afternoon tea?
Know where the wind whips through, creating draughty corridors and which parts still have frost on the ground long after the rest of the garden has warmed up.