Planning for the future – a design challenge II

In November I discussed a design challenge in our garden. This is an update prior to contractors arriving to lay down the hard landscaping. 6-mock-upThe design challenge was to create a plan for the area of garden behind the wall which had been used as a general dumping area. Things have moved on and we now have a plan for the paths which were to follow the diagonal lines above.LayoutThe bricks will be laid in the form of a “knot”although we do need to think through how the corners work. There are two options, the right end or the left but this is probably best done when we have the bricks on site and have measured out the overall shapes.

The bricks took some time to identify. They needed to be suitable for paths but also not to look  wrong next to the old wall which was built in 1704. The bricks we have chosen are Old English clay pavers from Chelmer Valley.old-english-5This picture shows them when they have been laid flat. However, we have decided to lay them on their edge. This has the advantage of better matching the bricks in the wall and it makes it easier to haunch them without the mortar showing along their edges.Cotswold-Blend-on-edgeTo give an idea of how they will look these pavers (slightly different from the ones we have chosen) have been laid on their edge, so our paths will be similar to the diagonal run of bricks.

Between the paths will be gravel; up to a metal edge along the edge of the lawn, up to the wall and around the trees themselves.

Picture5To achieve a unified design the gaps through the yew hedge and by the fruit cage will have have the same pavers laid in a similar way. These changes will give a very strongly defined lawn area which will be a precise rectangle and be symmetrical around the opening in the far yew hedge. This will also make lawn maintenance easier.

Lastly we shall have the same pavers laid along the edge of the small lawn which is up a step from the new design area. Picture3This small lawn is adjacent to the large pond area  which is surrounded by similar pavers bringing a continuity to the design.17_04_25_5378

6-mock-upWe have also decided on the trees. These will be Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire‘ – narrow, upright small trees with excellent autumn colour once established. The final choice of tree was determined by the site which only gets limited sunshine and the need for a tree that would not undermine the wall. Many thanks to people who suggested alternatives.

Until now the area has been a dumping ground!

but during the last few weeks I have been sorting out the good stuff from the rubbish and has amassed many river cobbles and granite sets that I am sure I will find uses for elsewhere in the garden. (I just need to find somewhere to store them now)

The contractors should arrive on September 19th so there should be another blog later in the year to show the result. We have wanted to do something here for at least 15 years so at long last something is happening. This is the last significant are of our garden to be developed.

17_09_07_6941And if you were wondering how the pigeons were doing here they are! They have just about doubled in just over a week and really the nest is hardly big enough for both of them.

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning
September 2nd
Total 2017 to-date Average per week
33 771 21

Tulip Mania

News flash: The first swallows arrived on April 3rd

Tulip Mania

17_04_05_5209Tulips have really come out this week. For many years we have planted Tulip Red Impression all along the left hand border to our garden. It is hard to get the effect in one photograph but standing looking at the display with the sunlight shining across the flowers is just magical. Most of them come up each year but we look for any gaps and replenish them. Probably we plant around 100 extra Red impression each year plus many other tulips and bulbs. See blog with bulb list.17_04_03_5197Looking along the same border. There is a small cobble path running through this part of the border although it is covered in twigs from the tree above (another job waiting to be done).17_04_03_5192The same border with Anemone Blanda Atrocoerulea and Leucojum Aestivum 17_04_03_5193 Leucojum Aestivum which resembles a snowdrop but is much larger. Worth a space in any garden.17_04_03_5196Looking from the back of the same border.17_04_03_5188Another part of the same border.17_04_03_5183Tulip Turkestanica a species of tulip native to central Asia. It was first described by Eduard August von Regel in 1873 as a variety of T. sylvestris, then elevated to full species status two years later.17_04_03_5184Tulip Turkestanica on the edge of the “Dingly Dell” border which is actually at the back of the Japanese border.17_04_07_5240Another tulip species, Tulip Humilis17_04_06_5214Tulip Ballerina lining the path to the pergola with Tulip Apricot Impression in the background.

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Tulip Ballerina

17_04_06_5212Close up of the lovely Tulip Ballerina 17_04_07_5242Sitting under the pergola looking towards the corner bed. Tulip Gavota in the foreground.

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Tulip Gavota

17_04_07_5243From the pergola across the main lawn with Tulip Ballerina in the foreground.

17_04_06_5218Tulip Ad Rem at the back of the corner bed. When the sun comes out Tulip Ad Rem really fluoresces.

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Tulip Ad Ram

17_04_03_5172Tulip Apricot Impression together with many alliums.

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Tulip Apricot Impression

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Tulip Apricot Impression

17_04_03_5181Tulip Purissima (white) and Tulip Beauty Queen (pink) both plant in 2007

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Tulip Indian Summer and Tulip Annie Schilder

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Tulip Annie Schilder with Tulip Indian Summer in the background

17_04_07_5236Tulip Indian Summer and it has a wonderful perfume a bit like wallflowers.17_04_07_5247A final view across to the border full of Tulip Red Impression with the evening shadows across the lawn.

News flash: First rose in bloom!

17_04_07_5244As I walked back to the house I noticed that Rosa Old Blush China had started flowering

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
30 679 16

Creating and maintaining a pleached lime hedge

img_1907The pleached lime hedge in full summer splendor and below a week ago. 16_12_29_4654

The hedge was planted about 17 years ago as we were developing the structure of the garden.img060If you get the leaflet from the RHS on pleaching hedges then they suggest putting in metal posts with wires to train the horizontals as they grow. At the time I certainly did not have the time or inclination to set up the wires so I created a  frame using bamboo fixed to the trees themselves. img059Each year the hedge was tied in and, as the trees grow, new bamboo layers were fixed in place to train in the new growth.

The lime trees are Tila platyphyllos rubra and are under-planted with Rosa Alfred de Dalmas and Lavandula augustifolia Hidcote together with alliums and lilies. The alliums have been a great success but the lilies are no longer present.img061 The photograph above is about the third summer after planting.

27_05_16_2436The hedge above is at the height we have had it for many years. The bamboo frame has more or less rotted away and we think the hedge looks great.  .In spring the alliums stand out against the new leaves of the hedge and roses.2010_20100624_509And in summer the roses come into their own. In this photograph there are a lot of allium seed heads which I remove as I have found that leaving them results in far too many alliums the following year.2010_20100624_511Rosa Alfred de Dalmas is a Mossy Damask shrub rose with creamy pink, semi-double cupped flowers with yellow stamens, and a delicate sweet scent that attracts pollinators. It flowers from mid-June to November and benefits from lush foliage and tidy manageable growth. Its moss is greeny pink, turning to russet red on older shoots.

Hedge maintenance

17_01_04_4659Once a year there is a significant job to be done to keep the border looking good. 17_01_04_4660First the roses are cut back and any dead wood is removed. The vertical bamboo are a relatively new addition. I have planted a range of clematis that are designed to grow into the hedge to give late summer interest. It is early days but it seems to work. The clematis are Clematis Blue AngelClematis Perle d’Azur and Clematis Ville de Lyon.
17_01_07_4661The side of the hedge facing the lawn together with the top is then cut. I find it is best to do this with secateurs either reducing the shoots to a single bud or weaving the shoot into the structure as required.17_01_08_4665Almost complete, just the cuttings to shred ready for the compost!17_01_08_4662The finished hedge. A once a year job but it is worth it giving a unique pleached lime hedge.17_01_08_4664Technically the hedge is not a traditional pleached lime hedge which would have very distinct horizontals. 17_01_08_4663However, take a look at the pruned hedge and you can see that it creates an enormous amount of winter interest and makes an effective hedge.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
15 498 17

Planning for the future – a design challenge

This is the time of year when we all get out our garden notebooks and start to think about what needs to change in the garden.16_10_26_3589This is the view across our garden and shows the old kitchen garden wall. Actually our garden extends beyond the garden wall although the large sycamore tree is actually in our neighbour’s garden. The other side of the wall includes some utility areas.16_08_08_3140To the right is a fruit cage and then through the gap is the compost area. Directionally, this is looking to the south west.3area-looking-towards-south-westOn the left is a dumping area. Every year we feel we should do something here but what?2-area-looking-north-eastSame area from the other end, looking to the north east.4-the-wallArea viewed from the compost area.  The issues are that on this side of the wall, due to a lower ground level, the wall is very tall, behind me is the compost area which is shaded by the sycamore (mentioned above). The wall is running from the north east to the south west so, combined with the sycamore tree, the area gets limited direct sun although it is not a dense shade. See also the garden map to further understand the layout.

This area is not a prime area within the garden. We wanted a relatively low maintenance solution which takes into account the light issues. Ideally we also wanted an area that feels different from the rest of the garden.5-area-to-have-gravel-and-pavingFirst I have taken a photograph and modified it adding an area which I am planning to be some type of hard landscaping. (It is much easier cleaning up an area on Photoshop!). This will define the lawn and make it symmetrical around the way through the yew hedges.6-mock-upNext I have added some trees. These were provisionally multi-stemmed silver birch. I am yet to do a detailed plan for the hard landscaping but essentially the diagonal lines are to represent courses of bricks (about four courses wide ) that would create five 1m by 1m planting holes for the trees. The planting hole would have a weed membrane and gravel to finish. At this stage I am still thinking about the triangular areas by the wall and by the lawn. These could be gravel which would keep it simple or they could be cobbles which we have elsewhere in the garden and would form some continuity.

The big question is what trees to buy? On this decision there were a few of constraints. The centre of the planting hole is 1.45m from the wall so roots could be an issue, any wind we have comes from the south west and can be cold so despite the wall it is not the warmest of sites and lastly we wanted this to be fairly instant gardening so we were looking to buy trees of at least 1.75m. We are on a sandy loam soil which is free draining.

I have talked to one of the best local tree suppliers. Bluebell Nursery is an award-winning, traditional working nursery, specialising in rare and unusual trees, shrubs, climbers and conifers based in South Derbyshire, England. At this stage they have had the above brief and come up with some suggestions:

  • Amelanchier lamarckii ‘Ballerina’ – small, rounded tree with masses of spring flower and decent autumn colour.
  • Drimys winteri – unusual evergreen tall shrub/small tree with glossy green leaves and white flowers once established. Should enjoy being near a wall.
  • Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire – narrow, upright small tree with excellent autumn colour once established.
  • Eucryphia x intermedia ‘Rostrevor’ – small, upright and fairly narrow evergreen tree with masses of white flowers in late summer/early autumn. Should enjoy the shade and grow well next to a wall.

Another we considered was Styrax japonica but unfortunately, it would not be very tall initially for instant gratification. However, they would come into their own after a few years in which to get established. As for the  multi-stemmed silver birch the advice was that we would definitely risk damage to the wall in time and even if not the case, as the wall is so tall you would be unlikely to have perfectly symmetrical habits forming as they would tend to grow towards the light given the opportunity.

At this stage we favour the Sorbus but the jury is still out.

Any suggestions gratefully welcomed.

Planting schemes we have borrowed!

Where do we get our garden design ideas from? Although I look a gardening books and receive a number of gardening magazines I seldom take ideas directly from them. However, when we visit gardens we often get inspired to borrow the idea. These get jotted down in our garden visits note book. For example many of you will have seen this planting scheme at Sissinghurst Castle.

purplevine

Sissinghurst Castle from Steve Reed’s blog

We have a wall (much smaller) with a similar aspect which for many years we had struggled to find a suitable planting scheme. When we saw this it was a eureka moment! The planting was  Vitis vinifera purpurea and Clematis Perle d’Azur under planted with Belladonna Lilies. I even had an email correspondence with the head gardener at Sissinghurst to check out the exact varieties!

Not quite as impressive but it works and apart from a little pruning once a year is more or less maintenance free. This was planted up about ten years ago so you can imagine our surprise and delight when this came out this year.

Only one so far but a start. I suspect the bed does not get enough sun but now they have started flowering maybe more next year.

One of our favorite places to stay in Devon is Lewtrenchard Manor; a great location for visiting Devon gardens

lewtrenchard-manor-houseAlthough not an ideal photograph, in the center of the picture is a raised water feature which is surrounded by a small wall. The wall is covered by a small climbing roses and once again Clematis Perle d’Azur. Very simple and we had the ideal spot to repeat this idea.16_07_23_2939Here it is around a well near our front door. This time with Rosa May Queen and Rosa Phyllis Bide and you can also just see the Sissinghurst scheme in the background.

Visiting  a fantastic private garden in Norfolk designed by Tom Stuart Smith we came on this planting scheme.visit_20110712_999_33Box balls with Hakonechloa macra under trees. This is the green Hakonechloa not the more common golden varieties which would have been too much.  We had an area of the garden where I had tried to imitate the Japanese tightly pruned azelas plantings. However as azelas do not do well in our area I had used a range of hebes. It worked well but the hebes did not like too much pruning and got too big. We needed a rethink and in our garden we now have20_06_16_2690although the box has been replaced with yew balls due to a scare with box blight. In spring we have snowdrops and Anemone Nemerosa before the grass comes through. The trees are Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Lace Lady’ a unique small tree worth considering in any garden. Again very little maintenance required and the scheme gives year round interest.

Actually at the back of this bed the stone pillar is the base of a granite Japanese lantern which fell over recently and is waiting to be put together again. Not so easy as it needs four strong men to lift the top! Any wind tends to come across the field at the back and the grass then moves like a river.10_07_16_2857

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
20 333 20