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!

Slopes and Ladders

‘Gardens with different levels are always more interesting than flat ones’, I reminded myself, staring down at a new garden that would be more suitable as a ski slope than an British garden. But mostly we don’t have any option other than make the best of what we have; and what we have seems to be coming along in more unusual packages as housing gets crow barred into more marginal areas of land.

Slopes! How do you deal with them? Well the steeper they are the more you have to concentrate your resources regardless of whether they slope away or towards the house. Decide where the main sitting area is going to be,for entertaining,catching the evening sun, kids play area, BBQ, whatever you use it for try to create as large a single level space as you can. A single garden divided into 5 narrow terraces for instance is actually 5 small gardens because you can’t use them all at the same time. Building retaining walls or raised decks can be expensive if your not careful but so is wasting half the ground your sitting on if you can’t get more than a couple of steps out of the back door.

Some uneven gardens could be managed with sloping paths but mostly steps are needed. Whether in brick, timber or stone it pays to make them generous so they become part of the design rather than a functional means to an end. How steep they are will depend on the topography of the garden. Steps are measured in the ‘going’ and the ‘rising’. The first is the depth of the step front to back, the second is the rise in height. The more ‘going’ and the least ‘rising’ the more comfortable the step but work on something around 150mm,(6″) as a comfortable riser if you can get away with it. Get it the other way around and you can feel like your climbing a ladder.

photo

The tread of the step needs to be as safe and non slip as possible, a textured or riven slab, chunky timber edge backed by gravel, deck steps can incorporate ‘grip strips’,brick on edge etc. the worse steps I ever came across were made of slate, one shower of rain and they were lethal, they had to go!

You may need walling at the sides to retain soil, you pretty much need to build this first then fit the steps between, the opposite is also true if raised up make sure a handrail is installed. Essential as a handrail is it’s difficult to make it easy on the eye, the simpler the better as fussy detail can be distracting. Presumably we want everyone looking at the garden and not the safety features.

In bigger gardens Break the steps up with landings if you have a way to go or even change direction if you have a long way to go! It makes you look at different views of the garden or house that normally you wouldn’t see.

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To stop the hard landscaping dominating too much it’s important to soften walls and edges and even steps with planting, all the elements of the design should work as a whole and the planting will be key to this.

Time to take stock

About this time of year is ideal for stepping back and taking stock of your garden. Most of the leaves are off the trees and shrubs and the bare bones of the garden are revealed, with the summer not too far behind you can also now review just how the area outside your door works for you.

Gardens have to fulfil a lot of different functions and they should work hard for their keep and pay back your investment of time, money and effort. With the garden making up at least half, often more, of the property you own you need to be making the most of what you have. And there are plenty of questions you can ask yourself.

Have you got enough privacy or is that tree just blocking out the sun rather than a neighbours overlooking window? Is there enough room outside of the patio doors to entertain, relax and still use for everyday use? If you want a patio table and chairs for 6 people you will need a minimum of 3 metres depth or it will feel cramped with guests pushing their chairs back onto the lawn or into shrubs and plants. Is there enough lawn for play space? If there is, can the shape be altered to a more interesting one to create semi hidden seating areas or focal points? Did the garden work for you over the summer? If it didn’t what was missing or even how would you like to use it ?

If you would love more colour and interest you can have that without necessarily having a work intensive herbaceous border. Like most other things you only get out of a garden what you put in, but that doesn’t mean you have to be out there every weekend slaving away.

A garden should make you want to go out in it and enjoy what has been created. Things can look very drab this time of year but it also makes it easier to see where you may have gone wrong. And if it is looking drab consider hardy cyclamen, Mahonia Japonica types are starting to come into flower, Viburnam Bodnantense will soon or even is starting to show flower buds. Hellebores in many varieties should be put in the ground or pots to flower in the grey days of January and February.

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

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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……….

Garden Designs You Will Love

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.
Outstanding Garden Designs
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.