The Garden in Winter…

Waking up on a cold, frosty and foggy morning here reminded me I had some frosty shots of our garden that I took a few weeks ago to share with you all. One of the reasons I chose the style of planting that we went for in our garden is that part of the intention when planning is to choose plants that have striking form in the winter months. They might have fabulous seed pods or just hold their shape in the early winter and I happen to think that there is nothing more beautiful than frost coated flower heads in the depths of winter, with the low sunlight streaming across the garden. I was fascinated to see how my planting turned out in this respect and I’m pretty happy!



In fact it’s actually time now to start chopping down the old dead stalks and seed heads ready for the new growth to come through and generally tidy up the garden. It’s also a great time to prune your shrubs if they are getting out of hand. (You can’t really go wrong doing it now but if you prune them hard and they are the kind of plants that flower early on last years wood, you might sacrifice this years flowers.) If you want to be really brutal and reclaim your garden you can chop them by 2/3!


If you would like some winter form in your Garden, here are some plants to look out for that have featured in these pictures:

  • Rudbeckia and Echinacea
  • Sedum
  • Monarda
  • Verbena
  • Verbascum

And of course grasses :) (the pale floaty one you can see here is called Stipa Tenuissima – plant it in swathes of 5 or more for a mass effect.)

It’s also a good time to look at your garden and see where the bare patches are. Now is the time to think about putting something there that would look good at this time of year – something with berries, an early flowering blossom or shrub, or with interesting coloured branches. And if you (like me) are wishing you had got around to planting some bulbs last autumn, go and pick a few up at the local garden centre, ready potted and put them in for instant colour.

Happy gardening readers!

Rebecca x

The Garden: After [The Planting]

I hope you enjoyed yesterdays post – there was just far too much to share for one post so I’m continuing today with a bit more detail. :)

The design of the hard landscape of the garden is quite geometric which stemmed from the large square deck we had already built. All the angles and lines reflect that but the planting contrasts with the angles in that is is very soft and fluid with swaying grasses and cloud like groupings of wild looking flowers. The downside to this kind of planting is that is relies heavily on perennials – that is plants that die back every winter and grow again in summer  - so we needed some structure to provide a backbone. The box balls form part of that, are contemporary and also break up the expanse of grass which was my concession to Pete’s plans for the garden – he would have been very happy grassing the whole thing with a goal post at either end. ;)

The planting was inspired by Piet Oudolf who I have talked about here before. A Dutch plantsman who is one of the most influential designers of our time, he champions a natural style of garden based on wildflowers and prairie fields. He also wants us to see the beauty in all stages of a plants life from the first shoots in spring through the flowers in summer to the frost on seedpods and frozen strands of dead grass in winter. His popular public works include the High Line in New York which I was thrilled to visit in person on our trip earlier this month and he is famous for his use of grasses. I’m so happy with how our planting turned out.

I browsed a few of his books before choosing our plants and made sure I choose amongst my own favourites some key plants of his to ‘get the look’. Some of the key species included Stipa tenuissima (the golden grass you see here,) Echinacea (the tall daisy like flowers,) Sanguisorba (the burgundy ball-like flowers in the picture above,) and Verbena bonariensis, (tiny purple flowers that form a cloud above lower plants or grasses they are planted through.) You can find more suitable plant combinations here. The other important thing to do is to plant in swaths – to get this look you need groups of 7 or 11 plants rather than 3 or 5.

The patio area is where our garden gets the majority of the sun, and is quite exposed in that way so the pergola was designed to be a focal point but also to add shade. We planted 3 climbing plants at the corners to cover it and add dappled shade – a white Wisteria, a Passion flower and a scented jasmine closest to twhere our table is.

The borders extend to surround the patio and the idea is that as the flowers mature the dining area will be partially obscured, and feel slightly enclosed and more cosy for dinners outside. We eat outside a lot in summer so I can’t wait for this are to become even more magical than it feels already…

Back towards the house, we built raised beds to break up the drop from the deck down  to the garden and also to bring the garden to the deck, so to speak. They were built last summer when the deck was, but only filled when the garden was done.

The one above is west facing and gets the sun all day so it’s got some drought resistant plants in there along with some prarie style additions and some of my favourite cottage garden plants too. I aimed for height here so they were taller than the deck 50cm above the planting box and could be seen through the glass balustrade. On the other side, the other box is north facing and gets very little sun, only at the very end of the day as it drops so it looks very different with ferns (including a tiny tree fern!) Japanese anemones, Heuchera and Hostas for sculptural foliage and variety of colour in the leaves.

Of course, it’s still not finished. We didn’t completely clear some shrubs in one of the borders so there was some backdrop for the immature planting but we will be changing that this autumn and winter. There is also a flower bed I had planned to be quite cotremporary not he left side and not pictured really here, but I’m now undecided if thats what I really want, or if the plants I had picked were the right ones. I may give it a year or two to develop and think about it.

That’s what I love about gardening. Its never over, it’s never done and it can always be worked on, built and changed. Its probably the only area of my life that I take the long view on and as a result it’s so relaxing.

I hope you enjoyed the insight again and once again, the design was down to brilliant Iain from Outer Space Lansdcapes, with the planting by me. :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Garden: After

As the Autumn is in full swing, I thought I’d share the picture of my finished garden, probably as good as it’s going to get before everything starts to die off for the winter. As you can see if you look back at my last post, the plants have filled out dramatically.

I absolutely love it. If we left this house I would miss the garden more than anything I think.

Before we start, some obligatory before and after shots – the ‘before’s’ with the garage are from the beginning of May and the photos in this post were taken in mid September, so its has really changed massively in less than 5 short months.

I am SO glad we got rid of the garage. Of course we have the luxury of a cellar to store ‘stuff’ in but in all honesty it’s a few garden tools and a lawnmower. nothing a shed couldn’t have handled and it has been so worth it for the extra space in a small garden.

The only thing that is different other than the planting in these pictures from the last post is that we finally finished off the decking with a glass and steel balcony to protect the edges. I think lots of people think we are mad having such a big open stepped area down but it was an integral part for me of keeping the deck a part of the garden, rather than two areas, and due to the cellars there would always be a drop from stepping out of the house, down to the garden. short of a ramp, nothing would have been ‘safe’ for Bea.

I have a ton of pictures to share so I’m going to split this post into two. There will be more tomorrow with the detail of the design and planting. Once again, the design and landscaping was all by Iain at Outer Space Lanscapes and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with him again – he was brilliant to work with, hardworking and did an amazing job. In fact we will be asking him to re-landscape the front garden in the future. I will just share the vegetable area of the garden today.

Some of you may remember we had an allotment before we moved and gave it up knowing the house would take up our time, that we planned a family and that we hoped to grow some veg in the new garden. I asked for some custom designed raised vegetable beds to be incorporated in to the design and space for a greenhouse, and I’m so glad we did. I love pottering in my working corner of the garden but it looks just as good as the rest of it!

I wanted a wooden greenhouse but they are so expensive and eventually we found this tiny one online. It was less than half the price of most as it is untreated, meaning we had to protect it with a stain and protect product but I wanted to Paint it anyway so it was not great loss. It’s also got plastic windows which I wasn’t that thrilled about, but painted up, I love it. It still has some of the green plastic film on the windows in these pictures and the inside needs painting still too, but it has been fab for growing in and we had our first tomatoes in there this year.

For the veg beds we concentrated on stuff we would use, that crops heavily and in a short space. 2 courgette plants kept us fed for the whole summer, we grew salad leaves, runner beans, peas and broad beans. And I had a corner of sweet peas solely for cutting.

Come back tomorrow for some more photos of the planting and detail :) Maybe I’ll periscope it when we get a sunny day!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Renovation Ruminations… The Garden

I have been ridiculously excited about our next renovation project for weeks, not least because it doesn’t involve my house being a complete mess! We decided this summer to tackle the garden, before another summer goes by with it a mess. Last year it was pretty much a building site and now we are home more with Bea, it’s the perfect time to get something done. It does however mean putting a hold on everything in the house for a few more months.


Napa Garden inspired by Piet Oudolf

Before I share the before’s, I thought I share a few of my inspiration pictures… Rome wasn’t built in a day and never were that statement more true than with a garden. Its going to be pretty bare at first and will take years to reach full maturity but we’re ready to play the long game and enjoy it as it grows :)


Italian Piet Oudolf Garden

A key factor in our re-design was the planting. I have fallen in love with modern prairie style planting which is very fashionable in gardens right now. Piet Oudolf is the guy behind the planting movement which involves mixing grasses with perennials and embracing plants for all their seasonal displays, particularly their structural form and autumn displays of seed pods and spires of dead flower heads.


Piet Oudolf Gardens in Winter at RHS Wisley

I really wanted an outdoor eating area but with a cover to it. We already have the decking area outside the kitchen which is shaded most of the day but perfect for drinks and casual eating after about 4 when the sun hits it until up to 8 pm in the high summer. In the day time however, one corner of our garden gets the full sun from morning until about 4pm, perfect for day time BBQ’s. I don’t like to eat in full sun however and our BBQ area will be down here too, so I’m imagining string lights hanging from the trees and canopy with a big dining table for lots of impromptu entertaining.



Rustic long dining table // Modern pergola

We gave up our allotment when we moved into this house, as it has a reasonable sized garden, so we plan to have a designated area to grow vegetables and I would love a little greenhouse for pottering in and sowing seeds with Bea! Pete has requested a decent sized area of grass for kickabouts and playing in the garden with kids, but I want it to be child friendly in other ways… places to hide in and behind, paths to follow and cycle round, and places to sit and read.



Greenhouse // Piet Oudolf Border planting // Kitchen garden boxes

As we are taking down our garage which currently takes up at least a quarter of the garden and is HUGE, we are going to need some better screening at the back and some trees for privacy. I’ve been looking for varieties that won’t grow too big or spread, casting a shadow on our neighbours gardens, but that will work hard for their place in our small garden, with interesting form, beautiful leaves and colour, with seasonal interest like flowers in spring or fruits in autumn too.


Birches for screening

Work started last week so I’ll share some before pictures very soon and some ‘in progress’ and ‘after’ pics soon after that!

Love,
Rebecca
xo