What to Consider When Designing Your Garden

Your garden should be just as important as every other room in your home. In summer, it can be a sanctuary where you can enjoy the sun and during the winter, you can appreciate its beauty changing from indoors. However, gardens don’t look beautiful on their own and require time and dedication to get them there.

Designing a garden is different from a room in the house and can be quite daunting if you don’t know where to start. Here is a guide to six things you should consider when designing your garden.

garden with pathway

Purpose

Before you can do anything, you need to establish what the purpose of this garden will be. Whether it is going to be a space for the kids, somewhere to relax, a place to plant your fruit and veg or maybe you want a bit of everything. 

Once you have decided your purpose you can then figure out how you want to allocate your space, coming up with a clear plan from the start makes everything easier.

Budget

Generally, the rule of thumb is to spend no more than 15% of the house value on the garden, this way it will then add value onto your property while still making you profit. Another way people look at it is, you should spend no more than £100 per square metre. Some people choose to spend more than this and others less, just make sure that you decide on a budget before you start, so you don’t run out of money halfway through.

pergola in garden

Professional Landscape Designer

There is always that fear that if you do it alone you will get it wrong and ruin the whole thing but then you might also be worried about spending more money than you have to. However, in the long run, hiring a designer could save you money, as their professional expertise can help you avoid disaster. 

Maintenance

Regardless of the size of your garden, it will require a lot of care and maintenance. If you are looking for a garden filled with plants, vegetables, and plenty of life then that garden requires a lot more attention. If you are looking for something more simple then you could have an artificial lawn or paving to avoid having to mow the grass or having pergolas or canopies to shield your furniture from the rain so you don’t have to put a cover over it.

childerns playhouse in garen

Regulations and Neighbours

Although planting some flowers or building furniture won’t really concern anyone, any larger constructions such as garden buildings, fences or walls might. You may need to alert your local council to check that your plan is approved, although it might be frustrating it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

You may need to consider is neighbours, it’s always good to keep them in the loop with something that could affect them in any way from, early morning starts with loud noises to building a wall, which could then affect sunlight in their garden.

Although these are just a few things to get you started there are many other considerations when designing your dream garden. If you have any further questions then please get in contact with Eden Landscapes today on  01933 652 786 or fill out our online contact form.

Top Tips To Create The Perfect Outdoor Dining Area

backyard-bench-and-table

Alfresco dining is one of life’s simple pleasures. Even though the UK weather isn’t always on our side, we find ways to make it work. After all, is there something better than sharing a delicious meal with friends and family in a beautiful setting? Of course not. The only thing that can make it better is enjoying those moments from the comfort and privacy of your home.

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Create Your Ideal Family Garden

kid playing in garden

While the benefits of playing outside for children may seem obvious, according to several surveys, many children in the UK don’t have regular access to outdoor play time.

Experts have long been stressing the importance of active outdoor time to both the mental and physical health of children growing up. If you are an adult you may agree with me that the lure of digital technologies is just one of the many reasons why outdoor time is shrinking. Of course, there are benefits to both outdoor and indoor activities, in the same way, modern technologies have many advantages. The challenge is to achieve a balance.

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Keep Your Garden Alive Whilst On Holiday

Warm weather spells the start of the holiday season for most people. Whether you’re going away for a week, 10 days or more, there are some steps that you should take to ensure that your garden is still alive when you return home.

Preparation

A few days before you go away, it’s beneficial to weed your beds and planters, as the weeds will compete with your plants for water. If you have vegetables growing in your garden then you should water them deeply and spread the soil with either clippings, compost or mulch. To ensure that the soil remains damp for as long as possible, you could even place large stones or planks of wood between the rows of vegetables.

Garden Feature and Flowers

Self-Watering

If you’re only away for a few days, you can probably get away with giving your plants a good watering before you leave, and waiting until you return to water them again. However, if you’re going away for a week or more then you should think about investing in some self-watering equipment. Whether this is a sprinkler on a timer, a soaker hose or a drip line, there are many self-watering options that suit all budgets and requirements.

Alternatively, you can look into creating your own self-watering system by using plastic bottles. All you have to do is take several plastic bottles (if you wish to water an entire garden) and poke tiny holes in the bottom of the bottle. Place the bottle a couple of inches below the soil surface next to your plant and fill with water. The tiny holes will allow for the water to slowly drip to the roots of your plants. Depending on the bottle sizes, you can use one bottle between four plants.

Garden Sprinkler

Potted Plants

Potted plants are much more susceptible to drying out than bedded plants. If possible, you should group your pots close together as it creates a damper micro-climate and reduces evaporation from the soil. The potted plants should also be moved to be in a position that’s shaded for a lot of the day but where they’ll still receive rain.

The plastic bottle system mentioned above will also work for potted plants. However, it’s recommended that you try this system out about a week before you go away so that you can see how long the water lasts, and if you need to put more, or larger bottles in the pot.

Potted Plants

Ask a Friend

An alternative solution to all of the above is to ask a friend if they could pop round a few times a week to water your plants for you. To make the request work if their favour, if you have fruit and/or vegetable plants in your garden you could always allow them to take any that have ripened whilst you have been away, as they’ll most likely be inedible by the time you return!

Watering Plants

For further advice, please contact the Eden Landscape Projects Ltd team on 01933 652 786 or get in touch through our online contact form.

What Should I Be Planting in March?

March is considered to be the start of spring, with the days slowly lengthening and the sun feeling a little warmer. These extra hours of sunlight and warmth allow for you to spend a bit more time preparing your garden for summer.

Planting flowers, vegetables and shrubbery at the correct time of year is crucial for their growth. Planting your summer bulbs in spring allows for them to rest in warmer soil. However many summer bulbs are susceptible to rotting so it’s important to place them in an area of your garden that has free-draining soil.

Shrubbery and Flowers

Deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted until the end of the month. Those that are newly planted should be topped with compost or manure.

Summer-flowering bulbs such as dahlias and gladioli can be planted in spring. Lilies can also be planted now and it is important to do so before the bulbs dry out. Bulbs that are more tender such as dahlias and cannas should be started off in pots indoors. These plants are unable to survive the frost and they shouldn’t put them outside until all chances of frost have passed.

Image Credit: Liz West - Flickr
Image Credit: Liz West – Flickr

Pot Plants

If you’re looking to brighten up your pot plants and hanging baskets then you can do so once all frost has passed. Primulas, foxgloves and peonies are beautiful flowers that can add colour to your garden. Ensure to keep them well watered ready for summer.

Image Credit: Peter O'Connor aka anemoneprojectors - Flickr
Image Credit: Peter O’Connor aka anemoneprojectors – Flickr

Vegetables

If you’re looking to add a vegetable patch to your garden then March to May is the ideal time to plant many salad vegetables. Carrots, lettuce and spring onions can all be planted now, and if you sow seeds regularly over the next two to six weeks, you’ll have enough salad to keep you going throughout the summer!

Image Credit: woodleywonderworks - Flickr
Image Credit: woodleywonderworks – Flickr

If you’re in need of any planting advice, please contact Eden Landscapes. We provide a quality planting service throughout Northamptonshire and the surrounding areas and our team are more than happy to assist with any queries that you may have. You can contact us on or get in touch via our online contact form.

Happy planting!

Cleaning Your Patio

It’s getting to that time of year where everyone cannot wait for it to be summer. Warm evenings, a colourful garden and quality time spent outdoors. It sounds bliss, doesn’t it? That’s until you catch a glimpse of your green-tinged patio. Once you notice how dirty it is, you won’t be able to un-notice it.

That’s why we’ve put together this post to provide you with information on cleaning and maintaining your patio. Allowing you to enjoy those summer evenings and appreciate your garden in all its glory.

Sweep Your Patio Regularly

Sweeping away all of the leaves and other debris that builds up throughout autumn and winter can prevent decaying leaves from staining your patio for good. It can also help to prevent any seeds from germinating as they have nothing to root into. Along with this, damp leaves can be a slip hazard, so removing them from your patio offers safety to you and your family.

Patio Design

Spring Clean & Patio Maintenance

Although the best way to keep your patio clean is through regular maintenance, spring is the optimal time to give your patio a really good clean. Due to the damp winter months, there can be a build-up of organic growth along with general dirt. Once most of the bad weather is out of the way this provides an ideal time to get your patio ready for summer.

Pressure Washer

A pressure washer is the quickest and most efficient way to clean most types of paving. However, it’s important to know the material that your patio is made from, as some materials can’t withstand the pressure from this type of cleaning and can damage the paving stones.

Even if your patio is built from a material that can withstand this pressure, it is recommended not to use the method regularly due to the possibility of damage still being caused.

By Hand

If you don’t own a pressure washer, or need a cleaning alternative in between pressure washer usage, there are methods that you can do by hand.

The most used and cheapest option is a bucket of warm soapy water and a stiff brush. Just pour the mixture onto the patio and scrub with a stiff brush in a circular motion. Rinse the soap away using a watering can or hose and repeat as required.

Another method is using a diluted bleach solution and the above directions. However when using this option, take care not to let the bleach mix to go onto your grass or plants, or near any pets.

We would recommend cleaning your patio 3-4 times a year, switching between using a pressure washer and doing the job by hand. Although this may sound a lot, cleaning it regularly will make the job easier as there won’t be a large build-up of dirt.

Patio Sealants

Sealants can help to keep your patio looking new for longer and are best used soon after the patio has been laid. Sealants can either form a film on top of the paving or actually penetrate the stone depending on which type you purchase. They can help to preserve the colour of your patio and prevent weathering. Sealants also make it much easier to clean stains and dirt, however, this doesn’t mean that your patio won’t need cleaning – it just means it will be easier to do so.

Bespoke Garden Design With Pond

If you need advice on the best cleaning method for your patio or are interested in having a new patio laid for summer, please contact Eden Landscapes today. Our team of garden landscapers serve the Northamptonshire area and work with our customers to create bespoke garden designs.

Preparing Your Garden for Spring

Do you want a garden full of colour ready for spring? It can be difficult to know when and where to begin preparing your garden, so we’ve put together a few helpful pointers below.

Potting and Planting Flowers

Planting seeds and bulbs in February allow for the flower to grow and flourish by the time that spring and summer comes back around. There are many flowers such as Lilies, Chrysanthemum and Ranunculus that can be potted now, and planted in the early spring so that they are ready to brighten up your garden during the summer months.
Some plants are best to be kept indoors or within a cool greenhouse during their first few weeks so we’d recommend doing your research, or contacting our team before you begin purchasing seeds and bulbs.

Ranunculus Flower
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ranunculus-flower-ranunculus-blossom-433429/

Start Weeding

Although it’s cold outside, this time of year is the best time to begin weeding. As the weeds will be freshly grown, the roots will still be short, meaning this chore will take a lot less effort than it would be doing it at the peak of spring.

Weeding the garden
Photo Caption: https://pixabay.com/en/work-in-the-garden-garden-digging-2432111/

Clean Your Greenhouse

Your greenhouse is soon to be full of trays of seedlings and cuttings. Giving it a good clean with a hot solution of garden disinfectant can remove any of the pests and disease that may have survived there during the winter. Ensure to also sweep out and remove any debris that may be left on the floor and shelves.
It is also a good idea to clean your pots and trays to prevent a potential disease from spreading and killing off young plants. To dry your greenhouse thoroughly, it is recommended to keep it well ventilated for the few days following the big clean.

Small glass green house
Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SmallGreenHouse.jpg

Remove Dead Plants & Clear Borders

Having a tidy up in your garden can help you see what space you have for planting new shrubs and flowers. Removing leaves and debris, along with any dead plants shouldn’t take long but will make a big difference to the appearance of your garden. However, to give the local wildlife time to come out from hibernating underneath your plants and within other areas of your garden, we would recommend waiting until the early spring to begin this clear up.

Garden shrub border
Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Garden_shrub_border_at_Boreham,_Essex,_England_02.jpg

If you would like any further advice, or to speak with our team about our planting services, you can contact us on 01933 652 786 or get in touch via our online contact form.

How to Help Wildlife in Your Garden in Winter

You may not think that wildlife needs our help to survive throughout winter, but in actual fact, this is the time of year that they are most reliant on humans. As the weather starts to turn, there becomes less food available in the countryside to the overwintering wildlife, and by offering the correct food and shelter you can increase the diversity of creatures that appear in your garden.

Providing Food for Birds

Birds benefit from feeding throughout the year, however, it is most important during winter as it increases their breeding success the following year. You should aim to provide them with food that contains a high-fat content as this helps to keep them warm.

Bird Eating Flat Blocks

If you’re looking to offer natural foods for birds and already have ivy or bushes in your garden, resist the urge to cut it back. By waiting until March, the berries are available to birds for longer and the leaves can provide a foraging habitat for insect-eaters such as tits.

During winter, bird feeders are used most heavily compared to the rest of the year and there is a variety of options and food types available that are suitable to give to them:

  • Fat blocks placed in wire cages helps birds to receive the fat content required to keep them warm throughout winter. These can be made by melting suet into moulds (such as coconut shells) and being placed in wire cages.
  • Wire mesh feeders are suitable for peanuts, whilst seed feeders are best for other smaller seeds.
  • Feed placed on a wire mesh just above the ground will help to encourage ground-feeding birds such as robins and dunnocks to spend some more time in your garden.

Ensure that you keep the feeders topped up so that birds don’t waste their energy visiting your garden if there is no food available.

Looking Out for Mammals and Amphibians

With bonfire night not being too far away, it’s very important to check bonfires before they are lit as animals such as hedgehogs, toads and frogs may be sheltering there. You should also be wary when turning compost heaps as they are often warm and provide the perfect sanctuary for these amphibians along with other animals.

Hedgehog hiding

The following tips will allow many amphibians and mammals to comfortably survive this winter:

  • Provide a shallow container of water at ground level as this will benefit all species of garden wildlife that needs to drink.
  • Spread fallen leaves over your flower beds to allow frogs and invertebrates to spend winter amongst the damp leaves. This also creates a foraging habitat for thrushes and blackbirds.
  • If you have a pond in your garden, melting a hole in the ice allows the wildlife to drink, and enter and exit the water. By filling a saucepan with hot water and placing it on the ice until a hole has melted, you can create an entry point for the animals without sending shockwaves through the water by cracking it, and causing harm to the species below.
  • Leaving a dish of water and meat-based cat or dog food outside of your property can provide food to hedgehogs, helping them to fatten up for winter.

Offering Shelter to Insects

Although they’re not everyone’s favourite creatures, it’s still important to take care of insects throughout winter.

By leaving dry plant stems standing in the garden, you are providing a shelter for all kinds of insects. Just make sure that when you do cut them in spring, that you leave them in a stack until towards the end of the season to allow the overwintering insects to emerge.

Ladybird on plant

Ladybirds tend to gather in large clusters on dead plant stems and are more commonly found in more sheltered parts of the garden. To allow them to feed, leave aphids, also known as greenflies, blackflies, and whiteflies, on your plants for the ladybirds to find. Growing nettles is one of the best ways to attract aphid-eating ladybirds as nettle aphids are some of the first to emerge from hibernation.

BBQing near plants – what to take into consideration

With the bank holiday weekend almost upon us, we can imagine that us Brits are going to try and squeeze in one more bbq before summer is over. But have you ever taken the location of your plants into consideration before starting to cook?

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Flammable Plants

Avoid placing your barbeque near any plants that are at high risk of catching alight and make sure to sweep away any leaf foliage build-up that is on the ground area around the barbeque. You should avoid cooking anywhere near Australian native plants such as eucalypts, wattles and bottlebrush as they contain too many volatile oils. Any plants with crisp leaves or brown leaf foliage are also at risk of catching fire due to their dryness.

If the majority of your garden is filled with plants and you’re struggling to barbeque away from them, we’d suggest cooking your food closer (but still as far away as possible!) to plants with a waxy or glossy foliage as they have a slower reaction to flames, making them less likely to ignite.

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Hanging Baskets and Pot Plants

Many homes have hanging baskets around the exterior of the property – but against the wall of your house is a prime place for people to put their barbeques. If your hanging basket is above, or near the barbeque flame, we would recommend taking it down for the cooking and cooling period. In fact, we would recommend keeping all plants near your barbeque trimmed with dead plant matter removed regularly to avoid any accidents when cooking.

hanging-basket-of-flowers

Where to Position your BBQ

The best place to position your barbeque is in the middle of your patio area, away from any garden shed or fences and away from trees, plants or shrubs that may set alight. Your guests would probably prefer that it is also away from the seating area to avoid being smoked out!

So, when you’re setting up to cook your barbeque this bank holiday weekend, take your plants, guests and personal safety into consideration when deciding where to place it.

To speak with Eden Landscapes about re-designing your garden (and making it more BBQ friendly!) please contact us on 01933 652786.

Hampton Court Show by Eden Landscapes

The famous Hampton Court Flower Show is the biggest flower show in the world and since 1990, when the first show was held, us Brits have been in love with the beautiful garden showcases and stunning natural designs.

At Eden Landscapes we are exceptionally proud to say that we are sponsoring a garden and that we have been invited to construct a garden for the Hampton Court Flower Show!

The Polish Designer Arkadiusz Luc has created design titled ‘I Disappear’. The garden will be a part of the conceptual gardens collection at the show. It is a thoughtful commentary on the seemingly inexorable destruction of allotments and green growing spaces by concreting over and construction of the built environment.

Eden landscapes have been asked to construct the garden and bring our expertise to the project.

Remember: the show is open from the 9th to the 14th of July so be sure you come to see us! Tickets cost approximately £30 and it’s a great day out for all of the family. Find out more about the show here.

As the date draws nearer we’ll be sure to keep you updated with news of our talented designer and more information about the show so come back soon for more information.

We Can Transform Your Garden Too!

Our beautiful designs and innovative thinking can help you to transform your garden from the ordinary to the extraordinary!

If you would like more information about our services please feel free to browse our site or get in touch with us directly if you have any questions.

Conifers in the garden

The first week in October was National conifer week and has just been celebrated in garden centres and nurseries across the country.
Conifers had fallen out of fashion in the last few years and many people have come to dislike the ubiquitous ‘leylandii’ hedge, mostly because they have been neglected and become too large. But there are more to conifers than this.
Nicholas Warliker the well respected gardening columnist and show judge has been looking over the conifer range at Podington garden centre ,near Wellingborough, and thinks we should look at conifers with fresh eyes.
“Conifers rightly have a place in a balanced garden,” says Nicholas,”offering many shapes and sizes combined with a wide range of leaf colours ranging from golden yellows, greys, deep and light green as well as the many shades of glaucous blues.  Frequently the leaf colours change with the seasons too, such as Thuja occidentalis ‘Rheingold’, in spring new green shoots are followed into summer by old gold eventually being superseded by an autumnal coppery hue.”
Pointing out the wide variation in shape and size of leaf he also thinks we should engage our senses more from the difference of feel of a feathery Cryptomeria to the long needle like leaves of the pines which can exude a familiar fresh scent.
And there is a conifer for all sizes of garden as Nicholas explains. “Conifers make ideal specimen plants given the room.  A Cedar such as Cedrus deodora is a majestic tree with its drooping branches.  By contrast many of the Junipers such as Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Carpet’, make fantastic ground cover plants. From large to little, lots of the small conifers make good container plants and are also useful grown in tubs and troughs, although it seems extreme, many even help to make up a good plant mix in a winter hanging basket and work well offering a slightly different dimension to the display.”
Many conifers require little maintenance especially in the early years, but when planting give a lot of thought to the position of that plant fresh from the garden centre, check the label for the growers information on it’s ultimate size. Or talk to a member of staff at the garden centre to give you some guidance as to the best place to plant.
And a couple of final thoughts from Nicholas…..”
Although not often known since most conifers are considered evergreen, there are four species which are deciduous. These are Larix, (the Larches), Taxodium, (swamp Cypress), Metasequoia, (the Dawn Redwood) and Ginkgo (the Maidenhair Tree).  All give wonderful autumn colour before their leaves eventually fall.
Finally an extra plus with conifers, as their name implies, is that many bear regular crops of cones.  Try the Korean Fir, (Abies koreana), whose cones are violet-purple in colour and appear from an early age.  It’s not a monster either, as its height is likely to be only 1.8m (6ft) in 10 years.
Good local Garden Centres such as Podington carry a wide range of Conifers, in fact there you are spoilt for choice.

Podington garden centre can be found in the village of Podington on the northamptonshire/ bedfordshire border near Wellingborough. Call the information desk on 01933 353656.

Colourful Winter displays

Now that the obvious charms of the summer container displays are losing their vibrancy it’s time to give the long months of winter some thought.With some careful consideration there’s no reason why you can’t have colour and interest in pots and hanging baskets even on the coldest days.
Hanging baskets used to be packed away until the spring but these days they have much to offer all year round. There isn’t that much room so what you pick will need to come from a smaller pot and punch above it’s weight in what it can give you.

The garden centres are full of choice examples. At Podington garden centre near Wellingborough Nicholas Warliker reckons popular choices of plants are Pansies, Violas, Primroses, Cineraria @Silver Leaf’, trailing Ivy and Lysimachia ‘Goldilocks’.

“In sheltered areas, try Miracle Cyclamen, which come in a wide colour range and are hardy down to -2 degrees C,” he says,”to give a little height in the centre, place a dwarf conifer such as Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘White Spot’ or a dwarf shrub such as Euonymus or Skimmia.”Finally add in some dwarf bulbs to give you a spring surprise.
In pots and troughs winter flowering pansies will give instant colour from the minute they go in, but you need to consider that it is a long haul until spring and it’s nice to see some change over the months. Bulbs are the first place to start, snowdrops will not let you down, available in pots early in the new year from garden centres they can be added into your existing winter display and are more reliable than bulbs in packets for the short time the container is planted up.
Also consider Narcissus.  Thalia is a subtle white colour multi headed flower and scented that lifts gloomy areas, consider it in combination with a specimen hellebore in the container, ‘eric smithii’ and it’s related varieties have wonderful colour and form with the grey green leaves staying healthy through out the season.
Two new forms of hellebores that are just appearing in the garden centres this winter are ‘Penny’s pink’ and winter ‘sunshine’. At Podington garden centre horticultural director Philip Read is keen for people to see these as they come in. ” Both are particularly good forms, with Winter Sunshine you do get the added bonus that the flowers are held more upright than some other Hellebores. This means it’s easier to see the full effect of the flower when it’s lower down in a containers”. He points out. “We will be stocking both varieties as good size healthy stock at £11.99 each and trays of 20 winter pansies at around £5.99.”Brilliant Winter DisplayWinter Displays at its Best

Here at Eden Landscape projects I favour a combination of hellebore winter ‘moonbeam’or straight Eric Smithii  with dark red winter pansies and bulbs such as tulip ‘Tres Chic” or ‘White Emperor’ and if there is room , a few narcissus ‘Thalia’.

Podington garden centre can be contacted on 01933 353656

How to Get Your Garden Looking Great In Winter

As the winter months are fast approaching so many of us will be looking out onto our gardens in despair; how has  it gone from a beautiful summer paradise filled with colour to a baron waste land devoid of life in a matter of weeks? Here at Eden Landscapes we’re expert garden designers in Milton Keynes and we know the secrets of keeping your garden looking great all year round.

It’s all in the Planning

When we’ve decided that it’s high time we gave our garden a makeover, a lot of us will race off to the nearest garden centre and buy a whole host of beautiful flowering plants; our gardens will be an explosion of colour in no time! Unfortunately, your garden will likely only stay that way for a matter of weeks.

Choose plants that will add colour to garden in the winter while everything else lies dormant. Why not try:

–    Viola Tricolor: the colourful plant will flower in the autumn and even in the winter.

–    Lily of China: a beautiful plant that forms dark green leaves and bright red berries in the winter months to give your garden a splash of ‘Christmassy’ colour.

–    Snowflake: as the name suggests this is a frost-hardy plant with white blossoms during the winter months and pink blossoms in the summer.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Don’t rely on flowers to make your garden beautiful or when winter rolls around you’ll be left with a dull, uninteresting garden. Create a water feature, make a rockery or put in a seating area; there are a whole host of options when it comes to your garden so don’t rely on flowers!

Let the Experts Help

Here at Eden Landscapes we understand plants and how to combine textures, colours and cycles to create a changing but always beautiful garden. We use a variety of techniques from planting to water features to create an original garden with character that will look just as good in winter as it does in the summer.

If you’re sick of your garden looking lifeless in the winter then here at Eden Landscapes we can help. Why not contact us or visit our website for more information?

Garrya the servant of the garden

Great Offers at Eden Landscapes

Whilst many of our favourite plants shout for our attention throughout the year some sit quietly in our gardens for most of the year with an air of modesty. They block unsightly views, they fill corners, they provide evergreen background to more colourful cousins, they can filter out noise and all without demanding much in return….until their one subtle moment of glory.

Garrya Elliptica is one such ; given its head and allowed to grow to its full size it can be magnificent in the cold days of late winter. To often it isn’t allowed to stretch its limbs to a graceful rounded large shrub and is hacked back rather than sympathetically pruned. Left alone though the flower display is stunning.

Philip Read, plant area manager at Podington Garden centre is a fan though and describes the ‘Silk tassel bush’ as arguably one of the finest winter garden plants.

“ It’s catkins remain draped over the evergreen grey underside sea green leaves, opening from their budded stage in November and December through to the yellowish and dusty beige-grey of mid spring. You need the male selection of the plant to get the biggest and best catkins, the best known form is ‘James Roof’ the catkins have a real grace and beauty.  James Roof is often written about as having the longest catkins, (30cm), but the form sold at Podington is known as ‘male select’”

A mature shrub has a real presence in the garden at this time of year and is wonderful to see with its catkins dripping from every branch. If you can find the room in your garden it is well worth the space for the unexpected pleasure it gives in these cold days.

For more advice please contact either Eden Landscape Projects or Podington Garden centre.

Hellebores – The Winter Wonders in the Well Designed Garden.

In the dark days of January & February when the cold drives us indoors you might think that there isn’t much of interest going on in the garden. But you would be wrong.

The winter garden can have a lot to offer if planned right, especially with the help of a garden designer. And it’s now that the first signs of the new gardening season start to emerge and catch the eye. One of the stars of this time of year has to be the Hellebores in all their different guises, in flower and foliage they have a lot going for them and with a careful selection you can have flower colour from mid winter through to early spring.

Hellebores are an undemanding lot and will cope with north facing situations and cold soils. Even gardens that are shady will have plenty of scope for many of the different species and varieties. If your soil retains moisture many Hellebores will cope with some sun as well and although they need a little care and attention at the time of planting they are not too fussy. As they spend a long time undisturbed in the same place in the garden, good soil preparation with compost and fertiliser in each planting hole pays in the long run.

Some of the earliest Hellebores to flower are Helleborus niger, the traditional ‘Christmas rose’, although they don’t always flower this early. Plants of the Blackthorn Group for instance have variable white flowers that age to a pleasing dusky pink as the season progresses.

Helleborus x ericsmithii is a favourite of garden designers, with attractive healthy evergreen foliage which can have an interesting pewter colouring to the leaves. Its flowers open up to a subtle creamy white with dusty pink shading. These flowers will just keep on going endlessly through to spring gradually getting darker in colour and never failing to cheer you up whenever you see them. They need a little more sun than other Hellebores but look very good in containers as do Helleborus x sternii. These are superbly reliable with both flower and foliage and combine well with early flowering bulbs.

For a much wider selection of flower colours look to the large Helleborus hybridus group, often know as the oriental hybrids these tough plants have flowers that range from white through to primrose through to pinks, light and dark, crimsons, plums to very near black. Some have an array of reddish pink spotting on the inside of the petals that complements the main flower colour. They have been a favourite of nurseries for breeding for a long time so there are a lot of different strains to look for.

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Make the most of these Hellebores now & take advantage of a 10% discount offer if you click on and print off the voucher from this website and take it to Podington Garden Centre near Wellingborough, Northants 01933 353656. They are offering Hellebore ‘Pink Frost’ & Hellebore ‘Champion’ at a special discount rate to readers of this article.  Just hand in the voucher in at the till as you pay to receive your discount……….

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The Garden Designers Winter Favourites

In the depths of winter especially after the severe weather we have had there are still some dependable sources of interest in the well designed garden. Colour and scent can still be found even in the smallest of gardens and will help lift those winter blues.

There are old favourites like snowdrops; they don’t have to be planted in carpets to have an effect. They are fairly easy going and will happily grow at the base of established deciduous shrubs where they will get enough light when growing and cool shade when they are dormant. Consider growing them where they can be seen easily without having to mount an expedition to the other end of the garden. Close to a kitchen window or near patio doors will be a welcome sight. There are many types to choose from with cool combinations of white and green or even yellow markings as well as large and small flowers, but remember that they mostly hang their flower heads so you may want to get up close to see their full cool beauty. Maybe on the path to a door or in a temporary display, such as a large shallow pot on a low wall or in the porch at the front door. And you don’t have to settle just for the common Galanthus Nivalis, although there are many great varieties to choose from, try also the Galanthus elwesii types for a larger flower.

Another garden designers choice would be the subtle and unassuming Sarcococca or ‘Christmas Box’. A small evergreen shrub that happily minds it’s own business for most of the year in some of the shadier areas of the garden, it really comes into its own in the depths of winter. Small white flowers open to deliver an amazing scent, sometimes so strong you stop and wonder where it’s coming from.  Later on small berries form to give more colour and interest and also make it useful for cutting. Sarcococca humilis doesn’t get above 60cm usually. Sarcococca Confusa gets taller but has very fragrant flowers. Both would be ideal close to a garden gate or path, perhaps even near where the car is parked to greet you as you get home.

For a different sort of colour interest try the dogwoods. These shrubs have bright and colourful stems that stand out wonderfully in the dull days of winter. Cornus Elegantissima has reddish stems and green and white leaves in summer but Cornus ‘sibirica’ has much redder stems. For yellow stems try Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ and if you want contrast try the purple black stems of Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’.   For the best colour these shrubs need ordinary to moist soil and regular pruning as the young wood looks best.

A good garden designer knows that with gardens getting smaller our plants have to work harder all year round to deserve the valuable space they use and these winter favourites have all earned a place.

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Planting ideas: New garden design

To take the plunge and have a new garden designed for you is a big step. It has many advantages though, not least of which is your chance to be involved and incorporate some of your own ideas into the garden design process.

The whole point of your newly constructed garden is that with more of the new features that you want incorporated into it you should feel not only eager to be out in it and get more use from it but be comfortable in your new surroundings. The planting within the garden can influence this to a large degree.

Once the plans have been drawn up and agreed upon a schedule for the build time can be worked out quite easily. But of course gardens aren’t just about slabs and pergolas it’s important to consider the plants. Some gardens may already contain some mature planting that can be left in place not only to help with screening and being overlooked but also to retain a strong sense of identity and to provide structure to the garden.

However not everybody will have this luxury and you may wonder how long you might have to wait for your garden to grow out of it’s ‘brand new’ phase and for the plants to mature and flower.

Generally it is best to have a mix of different sized plants to stagger the growth. It is well worth investing in some semi-mature trees to give height; these can be bought in any number of sizes up to and over 4-5metres. A multi stem birch with glorious white bark for winter interest at around 3m tall can cost up to £185 but is well worth the money as you are buying the time that tree has already been growing to achieve an instant effect. A few larger shrubs especially the evergreen types are also useful to give the garden some solid structure. They help to disguise boundaries and hide unsightly areas, bins, oil tanks sheds etc.
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If the planting plan calls for a number of perennials the choices are a little more complex and to a certain degree demands a knowledge of their habits, which we can help with. It might seem a good idea to get the biggest of them to get ‘instant’ effect but it doesn’t always work that way. A small perennial in say, a cheaper 1litre pot can be more vigorous and establish quicker than it’s more expensive equivalent in a 3 or even 5 litre pot which would possibly resent the disturbance when planted. Quite often the smaller plant especially if it’s a quick growing type will have caught up with its older cousin within a couple of years or less.

A plant like a foxglove flowers best in its second year so in that case, in order to get continuity of flower two sizes of plants, 1 year old and new younger plants have to be put in at the same time! Your Garden Needs

It is perfectly possible to achieve a fuller planting effect in your new garden after just one year. But patience, they say, is a virtue and a truly mature garden may take just a little bit longer to achieve.