Love cats and want a bird friendly hedge?
If you love cats and want to create a bird-friendly hedge, make sure you have a few thorny plants included, which we have done in our RSPB bird friendly collection. Once the hedge is mature, most birds will be happy to build a nest in it and the cats will play elsewhere rather than risk pricking themselves on thorns.
Plants with colour and form are key ingredients
in a bright, uplifting winter garden
The lyrics to “In the bleak midwinter” don’t offer the best encouragement for getting out in the garden. But with a few thoughtful planting choices you can be “Walking in a winter wonderland!”
The low golden sun shining and sparkling on frosty branches and foliage is a wonder of the season, and is something to be truly celebrated.
Although you may not want to be out in the garden that much in the depths of winter, it is still important to provide yourself with enticing views from the house.
Most important are front gardens and pathways to your doors. These are places that – in rain, sleet and snow – you’ll be passing through on a daily basis.
And it’s where you welcome your visitors. These are places you want to feel proud of, and to get great enjoyment from, in all seasons.
Gorgeous bark is an autumn treat
As the stormy autumn winds blow it can be a bleak time of year in the garden, with the last of the leaves being stripped from the trees leaving them exposed and bare.
In fact it is a magical unveiling, as the architectural form of a tree or shrub is revealed, and with a little planning and careful selection this seasonal transformation can be celebrated.
There are many species with beautifully coloured and characterful bark that will lift the garden in winter and create a stunning seasonal spectacle.
And with the low winter sunlight the bold structural forms of colourful branches can shine as brightly as any summer flower border.
The wonderfully surreal topiary garden at Beckley
Park, Oxfordshire (image: Wikimedia Commons)
Shrubs trained as topiary are at home in any garden.
From a cottage setting where intriguing forms nestle casually between flowers and vegetables, to a much grander scheme where repetitive shapes are rigid and regimented, topiary can be both charming and formal.
And let’s not forget that when you trim your humble garden hedge, you’re creating (a relatively simple form of) topiary!
European topiary originated in Roman times, where the atriums that were so common in the grand houses of the day became home to geometric shapes and fantastical creatures clipped from evergreen shrubs.
The formality and grandeur often associated with topiary began in the late 15th century with the Italian Renaissance gardens.
These gardens were based on the idea of achieving beauty through order and symmetry, and the clipped forms of topiary as a design feature were used extensively.
A native autumn harvest – an extra special
treat when it’s from your own trees
As the leaves start to colour and fall from the trees and the cooling air is heavy with the smell of wood smoke there is nothing more gratifying than getting wrapped up and going out to gather the season’s harvests.
Autumn is a most plentiful time of year. Along the hedgerows and verges plump ripe fruits hang from wayward trees and nuts crunch underfoot.
And it’s possible to create that natural bounty in your own garden, giving you the benefit of having wonderful ingredients for all manner of culinary delights right on your doorstep – and it’s fantastic for wildlife too!
With a little preparation this stockpile of preserved fruits and nuts will provide throughout the winter when little else is growing in the garden.