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Coolgardens Plant of the week #4

So far all of these are from my garden- let’s see how long I can keep this up…

Hellebore- Helleborus orientalis, or Lenten rose. These are a joy in winter, usually flowering in later February or early March. Distinct from the helleborus niger which flowers earlier but is less pretty in form and colours, and foetidus, which is interesting but does smell as it sounds! 

Very easy to grow, hellebores like dappled or even quite deep shade, and prefer the soil to be reasonably well drained and not too dry. In these positions they will naturally hybridise (get some dark purple and some white or pink and see what happens!). 
We usually clear the old leaves from beneath the emerging flowers as they can look really messy and detract from the beautiful new flowers. The flowers hang down they they particularly suit planting in raised planters where you can look up into them.

Coolgardens Plant of the week#3

Well this cannot really be a surprise, but the snowdrops (Galanthus) continue to look amazing, and  I think it would be hard for them not to get a mention. The hellebores are trying hard to take the slot (and may yet do it next week), but planting snowdrops is an incredibly rewarding activity. They naturalise pretty fast, and come in a huge range of varieties. Plant in part shade and moist but well drained soils for best displays. Buy in the green if possible, but bulbs from reputable suppliers usually also do well- don’t stint on the quantities, push the boat out and get 1,000 for a bank or under a hedge.

Cool Gardens Plant of the week #2

This week I have chosen shrubby winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima). This is a stunning splash of sweetness in February, with bare branches covered with small white scented flowers. Preferring full sun or part shade and moist but well drained soil, I have found them good tempered and plant in quite a bit of shade and in dryer locations (preferably not both) with good results. The one pictured is on a largely shaded north-east corner wall partly under an apple tree. The scent wafts across the garden on a warmer day, and I pick twigs to place in the kitchen and scent the house.

Growing to around 2m they tend to be a bit unruly, and pair well with neater shrubs -as in this example with some loosely clipped purple Pittosporum “Tom Thumb” plants. It’s a good approach to put some evergreen (ever-purple?) with those like the lonicera that have a short (but delightful) season of interest. It can be clipped to keep it small and therefore can be used in a wide range of mixed borders with other shrubs and perennials. There are berries to come which the birds like but which are dull red in colour, and the leaf is a smallish plain green oval- attractive as a light backdrop.

Cool gardens plant of the week #1

We thought we would see if we can choose a plant for every week of the year this year- based in plants seen by us personally so no cheating!

There are a surprising number of options to choose from in the burgeoning Spring-like weather, but this week I am choosing Winter Aconite  (Eranthis hyemalis). These are tuberous perennials for sun or part shade- propagate from seed or divide tubers after flowering and you will soon have a delightful later winter/early spring show. They are not usually cheap and take a little while to get going, but very satisfying at this time of year, and seem to be left alone by the rabbits and other pests that usually attack my garden. Fine in pretty much any soil- they apparently prefer it alkaline (which is what these are in). Look out for them “in the green” (i.e. in pots or bags) after flowering as this is a good way to get them going.
Suggestions for next week most welcome! 


Flood garden now complete

We have enjoyed very much working with our lovely clients on a garden for a flood plain. The existing space around the house was flat and uninteresting and needed some depth and maturity of planting to get around the feeling of a padi flied. The new build house needed some softening, and there was a need for some raised level parking to allow access to the house over a walkway when flooded as it floods up to 1m in depth. The brick structure around the treatment plant (see below) was also a complete eyesore that needed screening, as did the neighbour’s sheds.

From this….

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To this….


From this ….


To this…


From this…..


To this…


Check out our wonderful HUGE mulberries…


And the new “breeze House” on top of the treatment plant


Its a lovely garden- very proud of everyone and grateful to our clients for letting us create something so unusual.


Lawn Care Extra

Lets talk about watering. 

Living in England means most of the year rainfall is sufficient to keep the grass roots supplied with moisture. However we do get the occasional very dry spell where watering is required. It is the top 100mm (4 inches) of soil that is important to keep moist and one major drawback of letting your lawn dry out too much is that some weeds are more drought resistant than grass so they can get a good foothold while the grass around them is struggling.
Flooding the lawn with water regularly however is not ideal as the soil water-logging the soil will stop air getting to the roots so it needs to dry out in between watering which will help promote deep root growth. Conversely watering little and often will help the spread of moss and other undesirables and will cause the root system to stay shallow.  

So the main points to remember are when watering get enough water on the lawn to penetrate to 100mm, but only water once or twice a week, and do it before the lawn starts to suffer and this will yield the best results, always remembering that every single lawn is different and you need to match your tactics to the conditions you have.

Happy watering 

Northern Marsh Orchids!

Oh my goodness what a treat! Walking the (now disused) shinty pitch near my mothers’ croft in the Highlands, we saw not just a delightful wild flower meadow but an unbelievable quantity of Northern Marsh Orchids. We had already seen a few dotted around the wetter patches of ground, but this field was absolutely covered. A complete delight.

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Lawn care extra

We covered weeds last week, this week is all about colour.
Ask yourself is the lawn off colour, if it is then you want to give the lawn a feed with fertiliser. you can get both liquid and granule fertilisers and i would probably recommend using a liquid one if you can. Some products come as a hose attachment which will release the product mixed with water as you spray the lawn and they can be quite effective. These can be purchased from most good DIY stores, B&Q stock them but other stores are available. Be aware though that if you have any weeds it will feed them too so be prepared to attack them once they get going.
Till next time…


Lawn Tips Extra

Over the next few weeks we are going to cover some simple lawn tips that are relevant for this time of year, some of this will already have been covered in the main lawn blog but its always good to cover again in case you missed it or don’t want to sift through my ramblings to find what you need.

So here we are at the start of June and first of all you will want to inspect the lawn. Don’t be tempted to just look at one part as things can change across the lawn depending on the conditions of soil or shade in each area.

Lets focus on weeds, if you only have a few weeds dotted about then give the lawn a light feed with fertiliser and then dig out the individual weeds (a sharp pocket knife is good here) making sure you remove the whole root. Just taking the top off will not remove the problem and it will just come back later. Alternatively spot treat the weeds with a weed killer if you prefer.

If your weed problem is a bit more severe apply a weed and feed to the entire lawn this will green up the lawn encouraging it to spread out and cover the areas that had weeds once they are killed off.
Next week we will look at colour.

A bit of spring Lawncare

I have added a post to the lawncare blog about how to aid aeration and and root growth and how to change the make up of the top surface of your lawn. Enjoy.