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Garden Design

  • Boxing clever

    Like so many gardeners, I’m a huge fan of box. Its neat, clipped form brings classic elegance and structure all year round – especially welcome in winter, when the bones of a garden are what really matter. A dusting of frost gives a shapely group of box balls a bewitching...
  • Beech hedging

    I’ve recently planted a beech hedge, which my wife has had in her mind for a while, just 10 days ago. We had an area of mown grass that was not really doing anything surrounded on three sides by borders, with a variety of flowers and shrubs. However, one end...
  • Five of the best Plants for a Garden in May

    The quince tree (Cydonia oblonga)  has to be my favourite fruit blossom. It's not quite pink, single flowers are unusually large, five-petalled and are held proud from reflexed, pale green leaves. Stunning. Laburnum trees live up to their common name of The Golden Chain Tree right now. Their extraordinary luminous...
  • It is a BEAUTIFUL Lawn... but where is the grass?

    There is no doubt about it but lawns occupy a special place in the hearts of most UK gardeners - especially male ones. That stretch of closely cropped grass sets off herbaceous borders, is the site of vicious games of croquet and more considerate games of bowls. Apparently they have...
  • All About Alliums...

    Alliums start flowering in mid-May and, depending on your variety, continue to do so from to the end of July with their lovely, frozen firework flowers. Alliums have become very "de jour" because their colours range from steely metallic shades to the deepest, velvety purple and because their perfect circular...
  • Thorny issues

    More and more frequently communities are gated, electric gates installed, and iron railings sharpened. All no doubt sensible security measures but how about considering a much cheaper alternative to all of this hardware? We suggest a thorny hedge, alive with prickles and scratchy bits so that no self-respecting intruder (unless...
  • Gardens at their best in May

    Dorothy Clive Woodland Gardens in May Gardens are breaking into bloom all over the country and it's hard to pick just three, but Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire is bursting out into magnolias, azaleas and camellias, without mentioning Old Port, the ginormous rhododendron, the walled garden and the bluebell woods. The...
  • Using Copper foliage in the garden (...and why it is it copper anyway?)

    Black elder in flower Contemporary gardeners often use dark colours…look how the ‘Queen of the Night’ tulip has become ubiquitous, or the black grass Ophiopogon planiscarpens nigrescens (I don’t know how to pronounce it either)…pops up in urn plantings or as a contrast to pale paving. There is something fascinating...
  • Our Top Tips For The Season: no. 2

      Why isn't Holly prickly at the top? If you want to cut holly for wreaths, mantelpieces and other decorations, get out your ladder and cut from branches higher up in the tree. You will avoid puncturing yourself too much that way because the leaves are less prickly at the...
  • For the love of lavender


    English lavender - fragrance, colour, wildlife value, and versatility

    English lavender – fragrance, colour,
    wildlife value, and versatility

    There are very few gardeners who fail to fall for the many charms of lavender – what is that you love about this beautiful, heavenly-scented and versatile plant?

    Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has long been recognised for its numerous uses, medicinal ones in particular.

    The Egyptians used it in the embalming process; soaking the shrouds in lavender infusions helped to preserve the mummies. The Ancient Greeks used it as a remedy for a huge number of ailments, and they were the first people to discover its sedative attributes as a cure for insomnia.

    The Romans praised it for its antiseptic qualities, and used it in bathing and washing clothes. And it has been used in battles as a dressing for wounds – in the First World War it was included in soldiers’ first aid kits.
    Continue reading

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