All posts tagged: garden

Fab Foliage

Plants with variegated foliage have grown on me. Some are nicer than others – I generally prefer the ones with white/creamy coloured markings to the more yellow pigments. But just a few dotted around create bright golden or silvery accents, adding drama and contrast and lightening up shady corners. Here’s my pick: Shrubs Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Queen’ Good for: Evergreen structure This stylish shrub has small greyish green and cream leaves with contrasting black stems. It gets big but is easy to clip to shape – and the foliage is great for flower arranging. Likes sun or part shade. Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ Good for: Winter interest Cornus (dogwoods) are grown for their red stems revealed in winter when the leaves fall, but this variety also has elegant pale green and white leaves that shimmer in the sun. It works best in full sun, planted somewhere visible during the winter. Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ Good for: Scented winter flowers This classy rounded shrub has glossy green leaves with fine golden margins and clusters of deliciously scented pink …

Great plants that don’t need watering

It may be tempting fate, but on the whole summers are getting hotter. So whether for environmental or practical reasons it makes sense to use plants in the garden that once established need little watering. Drought-tolerant plants tend to originate from hot, dry environments and adapt in different ways to cope: Silver leaves to reflect sun; succulent leaves to store moisture; tiny leaves to reduce evaporation and aromatic leaves that release essential oils to keep cool. These plants often thrive in well-drained poor soil. So in clay soil, add grit or sand to help with drainage. Here’s my pick of sun lovers: 1. Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s ears). This is a useful spreading ground cover plant with silvery woolly leaves. (S.b. ‘Silver Carpet’ has smaller neater leaves than S.b. ‘Big Ears.’ 2. Lavender. This is a classic for a sunny spot. Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ is a popular compact variety with dark purple flowers. Or for a change, try Santolina chamaecyparrisus another compact silver leaved shrub with yellow flowers in late summer. 3. Cistus (Rock Rose). Sun …

10 of the best May flowering plants

  Gardens can often lack colour in late spring/early summer when there’s lots of foliage but not enough flowers. Here’s my pick of plants to fill the gap. 1. Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Black Barlow’ With delicate flowers on long stems, this dark plum variety is equally at home in cottage garden schemes or more contemporary settings with grasses and euphorbias. Aquilegias are short lived but self-seed easily creating a naturalistic feel and are happiest in moist soil in sun or dappled shade. 2. Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ Whether rich velvety purples or this delicate pale blue variety, bearded iris are a spectacular sight in May – and their grey/ blue strappy leaves add texture too. Plant them with the upper part of the rhizome on the soil surface in the sun so they can bake. Another option is the more delicate clump forming Iris sibiricas such as mid blue ‘Silver Edge’, which has narrower leaves and likes more moisture. 3. Papaver orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’ The paper-thin petals of this gorgeous pinky purple perennial poppy are …

Luscious lawns

Now is the time to give your grass a bit of spring TLC if you want a lawn to be proud of this summer. Here are eight jobs to give it a lift – even just a few of these will be a step in the right direction. Rake leaves. Rake off any leaves and other garden debris built up over the winter. Give it a trim. As the weather warms up and your grass starts to grow again, you can start mowing. Choose a dry day and use the highest setting so as not to scalp the lawn. Remove weeds. Regular mowing will remove most of the annual weeds but not the pesky perennial weeds such as thistles and dandelions. Weed killer is an option, but I prefer to dig them out by hand, removing the whole taproot to avoid it re-growing. Scarify. This is where you rake off the ‘thatch’ – dead grass, debris and moss – one of the biggest problems with lawns. Use a wire rake and don’t worry if it …

Want to get down to earth?

Want to get down to earth? Then get to Emmanuel wildlife garden, off  Chalford Road, West Dulwich on the last Wednesday afternoon (2-4pm) of every month. Norwood Wildlife team created a garden on a patch between Emmanuel, a Parish Church, and their neighbours 12yrs ago and have recently returned it to its original purpose with the help of Church members.  The main garden is an orchard of wild fruit trees, crab apple, cherry, plum (and soon pear) to feed the birds.  Around it is a hawthorn hedge with cow parsley and other hedgerow plants. At the entrance to the area stands a magnificent Rowan tree underplanted with primroses, dog violets and wild grape hyacinths and a long bed nearby is a showpiece for bigger subjects such as teasel, burdock and thistles. John Cotter, the Norwood team leader, says beginners will be welcome and he hopes they will go on to work on the team’s main project, Norwood Park’s Country Walk, a winding path across 3 acres which have been planted with most of the trees and …