My Articles

The Devil is in the detail

If you consider what makes a good interesting garden, in addition to a strong design, you will usually find it is the detail in the garden. A bit like when my teenage daughter (bless her) borrows my best silver necklace because it perfectly complements her new outfit. Here are some examples of the kind of detail we can all apply to our gardens to make them a bit special:

  • If you are considering installing a deck at the back of your house, run the deck boards at a 45 degree angle to the house. This way they lead the eye out into the garden. It is more fiddly to do, but well worth the trouble.
  • If you have a bench in the garden, paint it (white or blue work best) and complement it with planting to match. For example Vinca minor 'Gertrude Jekyll' is perfect under a white seat or with blue, Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' is lovely. (You can adapt this idea to any object in the garden, see the photo of a glazed pot with Veronica spicata from my garden)
  • Paving offers endless opportunities to make your garden unique. Lift some slabs and replace with cobbles, reclaimed brick or old tiles placed on edge. Even pebbles which the kids brought back from holiday.
  • Choose a sculpture or ornament which you can place as a focal point in the border among the planting. It needs to be in proportion with its surroundings and if you get it right, it can look brilliant.
  • If you're planting a new border, think about the colour combinations. Silver and purple or mauve look fantastic together. Try Heuchera 'Obsidian' next to Stachys byzantina (Lambs Ears) and Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead' (English Lavender), a wonderful combination.

Well I hope I have given you some ideas to help you make your garden special, and by the way, has anyone seen a silver necklace?

Author: Angie Barker Dip GD (Inst GD) BA (Hons)

Garden Design For All Seasons
Tel: 01942 522 405
Mob: 07857 008 383
www.angiebarker.co.uk

The joys of summer time

July is a month full of challenges. Schools break up for the summer holidays which is great for commuters but bad news for parents who face 7 weeks of keeping the kids entertained. (Why do they get bored after only 1 week?)

In the garden the growing season is in full swing and July is probably the month when your garden will be looking its best with lots of glorious plants in flower. Two of my favourites being Lavender and sweet peas. This of course brings the inevitable 'chores' of watering, deadheading and fighting the war against slugs and green fly.

However we rise to all of these challenges because that is what summer time is all about - and we love it!

Whilst writing, I thought I would let you know how I got on at Chelsea Flower Show. It was as usual a fabulous occasion and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. You can't purchase plants at Chelsea (apart from the great sell off at the close of the show when you need nerves of steel to grab the best bargains) so to commemorate my visit I decided to buy a 7 foot tall sun flower made from recycled oil drums. I thought it would look a treat in my border at home and it seemed like such a good idea at the time ... Manoeuvring a 7 foot sharp metal object in taxis and on Virgin trains wasn't easy. Hubby pretended he wasn't with me as I apologised to numerous people I had accidentally impaled! Still, as I write this I am looking at my sunflower and it does look a treat and will bring back some lovely memories of a lovely day.

My daughter came too, but decided she would go shopping in Oxford Street instead of going to the flower show - have the banks started giving mortgages again

Mad about Plants!

June is the time of year when things really start to hot up! (Don't worry I'm not going to mention the "G W" words again). I'm talking about summer colour in the garden.

Perennials, summer flowering shrubs and annuals are all vying for our attention and you can almost hear them jostling for position at the garden centre, shouting "buy me ...no me ...no me ..." (You have to be a gardening nut like me to have such thoughts!)

There is one particular plant however which (as Sharron O would say) is fabulous - Verbena bonariensis. Majestic little purple blooms are held high above strong stalks up to 1.5 m high (5ft in old money) during the summer months. The seed heads last through the winter giving form to perennial borders which can otherwise be left flat in winter. They don't require staking as with most other tall perennials and they provide an airy, sophisticated feel to the garden because you can see through and beyond them. They also freely self seed- I did tell you it was a fabulous plant.

Popular with garden designers for a while now (we know our stuff you know) it is time for the "ordinary" gardener to appreciate its qualities.

When you're at the garden centre on Saturday, do yourself a favour and listen out for the little voice saying "buy me - I'm the stylish tall one and my name is Verbena bonariensis" and indulge yourself. Buy a few of them - don't just settle for one, the effect will be so much better with a few.

(I'm not really mad you know - just mad about plants - welcome to my world!)

Author: Angie Barker Dip GD (Inst GD) BA (Hons)

Days out

August is a funny time of year. Everyone who has children goes on holiday - and everyone without children - don't. They have the luxury of paying cheaper prices at other times of the year !
Hubby and me have decided to stay at home this year and have days out instead and a cracking day out is a visit to Southport flower show. Its held on 20th - 23rd August and we catch a train to Southport and then the bus shuttle service which takes you right to the show ground - it couldn't be easier. Getting the train means you don't have the hassle of finding somewhere to park and it gives you the opportunity of visiting the beer tent - well you have to really don't you! It is not an RHS show like Chelsea so you don't hear posh people saying things like " Darling, look at the Digitalis, aren't they delightful", just ordinary folk enjoying the plants and show gardens, the entertainment, food and drink - like I said a cracking day out. The weather of course plays it's part but I have been even when it has poured down and still enjoyed the day.
Be prepared and take a sturdy shopping bag because you won't be able to resist buying some of the gorgeous plants on sale. I ply hubby with food and drink so that by the time it comes to go home, he doesn't notice how many plants I've bought - or if he does he's beyond caring! "Why don't you have another pint love while I just go and have a look at the plant stall over there" - he doesn't need much persuading.
The plant of the month has to be Crocosmia 'Lucifer'. Its bold foliage and intensity of colour at this time of year makes it a very dramatic addition to a border - you can probably pick one up at the flower show - so go on, treat yourself to a cracking day out.

Author: Angie Barker Dip GD (Inst GD) BA (Hons)

Garden Design For All Seasons
Tel: 01942 522 405
Mob: 07857 008 383
www.angiebarker.co.uk

A new trend in gardening

When I go to sleep at night I look forward to getting up in the morning, making a cup of tea (sorry but being from London I've never got the hang of "making a brew") taking it into the garden and wandering around smelling the flowers. I am still in my dressing gown and slippers and hubby is still in the land of nod. Early morning is the best time for me in the garden - it is so peaceful save for the humming of the bees and the chattering of the birds - oh and my daughter shouting "Mum have you washed my Henleys top?" ( It should wash itself for the amount of money it cost!)

I used to think I was on my own in this ritual of dressing gown and slippers gardening - and then I met Vilma. Vilma is a lovely lady who lives in Hindley and who asked me to turn her patch from a concrete patio back into a garden with a lawn and some lovely plants. She had selflessly cared for her husband for several years at home and since his death has sought solace in the thought of having a lovely garden that she can potter about in - in the morning in dressing gown and slippers. Working with Vilma reminded me of what gardening is all about. Chelsea flower show and garden design are all very fashionable but the real meaning of gardening is the joy and satisfaction you can derive from it and its therapeutic qualities.

Vilma is thrilled to have a garden again so why don't you set your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier, make yourself a cup of tea and wander round your garden in your dressing gown and slippers - we could start a new trend in gardening !

Author: Angie Barker Dip GD (Inst GD) BA (Hons)

Garden Design For All Seasons
Tel: 01942 522 405
Mob: 07857 008 383
www.angiebarker.co.uk

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