All posts filed under: Home and Garden

Hydrangeas for high summer impact

Hydrangeas are gorgeous shrubs – their large blousy heads create abundance and colour into late summer, often taking on pinky hues in autumn, with dried seed heads adding winter structure too. They can be broadly categorised into two species, including Asian (paniculataand macrophylla) that prefer acid soil, some shade and moisture. For sunnier spots, opt for an American species such as the popular North American H. arborescens‘Annabelle’, which can handle full sun and less water. Hydrangeas come in a vast range of colours, sizes and forms – from the globular mopheads to lacecaps with flatter heads of flowers. Here are a few to consider: Hydrangea Macrophylla If the standard pink and blue mopheads (pink in alkaline and blue in acidic soil), conjure up an old fashioned image, opt for classic white varieties such as the flamboyant H. macrophylla ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’ or H. macrophylla ‘Zebra’ which has striking black stems. Otherwise, go for dramatic colours such as H. macrophylla ‘Westfalen’ with its large rich purple mophead blooms.Lovely lacecaps include subtle grey blue and white H. …

Holiday-proof your garden

It’s depressing coming home to a neglected garden. But a few simple jobs before you go away will help your garden survive for a few weeks without you. Here are 10 things to do before you head off on your travels. Move your pots to semi-shade, grouping them together to increase shade and humidity. Put them on saucers to catch rainwater or on soaked capillary matting. (But check the forecast, as plants don’t like to be in standing water.) Or consider installing an irrigation system. Any favourite plants that easily dry out can be sunk into soil to keep them cool, drenching the surrounding earth and giving it a mulch. As well as deadheading repeat flowering plants like cosmos, think ahead by removing the flowers as well – or pick a bunch of flowers to give to friends and neighbours. To avoid coming back to a weedy mess, it’s really worth removing as many weeds as you can before you go away, digging out the whole root of perennial weeds such as thistle and bindweed. …

Garden Talk – Summer edition!

Summer’s here at last, with everything bursting into bloom. Here’s what to do to keep it looking at its best. Pruning: Deadhead your roses to keep them flowering, likewise other perennials like geraniums and viola, snipping off browning heads or flower spires with secateurs. And pick sweet peas daily to keep them coming, filling your house with gorgeous scented. Old flower headsof Euphorbia characiasshould be pruned back now and oriental poppies can be cut right back after flowering too. Big clumps of hardy geraniums and nepeta (catmint) benefit from being sheared right back after flowering – to give them a second flush. Prune spring flowering shrubs such as weigela, philadelphus and deciduous magnolias, followed by a general purpose organic fertiliser and mulch. If you haven’t already, you can still prune evergreen topiary and hedges, taking about 5cm of new growth from box – ideally with pruning shears. Planting: If you haven’t already, now is the time to plant up your window boxes and with summer bedding plants to give you colour through the summer months. …

The Fragrant Garden

From the delicate perfume of roses to the heady exoticism of jasmine, having a few sweet smelling flowers in your garden can really lift the spirits. It’s a good idea to put fragrant plants near seating areas or paths so you can appreciate them as you walk by or over a morning coffee or evening drink. Here are a few of my favourite scented plants from spring to summer: Shrubs For spring flowers, Osmanthus x burkwoodii is a fab rounded shrub with small dark evergreen leaves and a mass of tiny white sweet smelling flowers in April and May. Another gorgeous shrub I’d love in my garden is Viburnum x burkwoodii, which has clusters of white vanilla-scented flowers opening from pink buds, in April and May. A little later comes Lilac (Syringa) – beautiful right now, with its heavenly blousy blossom in a range of purples and white. Syringa vulgaris are the most perfumed varieties – I like S. ‘Mme Lemoine ‘ which has highly fragranced white flowers. For smaller gardens or containers, dwaf varieties such …

Garden Talk: Top 10 groundcover plants

Great for carpeting bare ground, preventing weeds and defining the front of a border, groundcover plants are a must-have in the garden. Here are my top 10, grown for… Foliage Asarum europaeum (Wild ginger) For a lush contemporary look this is unbeatable, with glossy green heart-shaped leaves that spread to form an evergreen carpet. It prefers a moist, shady spot.  Pachysandra terminalis, which copes better with sun, also forms a dense mat of evergreen leaves with white flowers in early summer. Ajuga reptans ‘Atropurpurea’ (bugle) If you’re after a bit more colour, try this spreading evergreen, grown predominantly for its unusual bronze-purple foliage – which look great with other rusty coloured ferns and grasses. The short spikes of deep blue flowers in early spring are a bonus. It’s happy in sun or part shade, provided there’s enough water. Stachys Byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ (Lamb’s ears) With spreading velvety silver leaves this is great for softening the edge of a well-drained, sunny border – it’s also very drought tolerant once established.  Stachys have purple flower spires in …