Archives for January 2014

Plant Selection – Fabulous in February

Garden planting in February can still be quite a hard month to have the garden look good in. We are still relying heavily on those evergreen plants to save the day.


Right click image and choose ‘Save As’ to download a larger version.

Ilex crenata Convexed Gold

This small evergreen plant, for all intense and purposes, looks just like a ‘golden box’ shrub. It’s not though. It is actually a member of the holly family. Whilst it can be used for hedging, I prefer to plant them in groups of three, five or more, depending on the size of garden. The golden yellow leaves makes for great impact in the garden, especially in the winter months.

Phormium Pink Panther

I love spiky, architectural plants. They make a bold statement and help bring clarity to planting schemes. They do this by providing a break from the normal round or oval shape plants. I particularly love the colours in the leaves of this variety of Phormium. They add a burst of colour and drama, as well as help to show off other plants in the garden.

Choisya ternata Sundance (Golden Mexican orange blossom)

The golden, evergreen leaves of this Choisya plant offer a dramatic burst of colour, vital to cheer up the garden in the dull winter months. In early summer they also have deliciously scented flowers, which makes this plant a great all-rounder. It doesn’t like it too cold though. You also need to be a bit careful about positioning it in full sun, as the golden leaves can be prone to scorching.

Photinia ‘Red Robin’

A very popular evergreen shrub, for good reason. The bright purple foliage of the new growth and the glossy dark green mature leaves, makes this plant always interesting. In the winter, you don’t get as much red, but even so, it’s still good to look at. It makes a great contrast for other plants. Photinias can get quite large, so best situated at the back of garden borders.

Corylus avellana Contorta Red Majestic – (corkscrew hazel)

This is the only non-evergreen on this month’s list. There’s two reasons I’ve chosen this. In February and March the stems are laden with catkins hanging down. The twisted stems, also makes this an interesting plant to look at in the winter months. In the spring, soft, purple leaves burst forth, adding more colour in the garden. It’s quite slow growing, but makes an impressive display once established.

BUT do be warned, plants alone will NOT give you a stunning garden – you have to get the design layout right first. If you don’t know how to do that then…

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

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[DESIGN SHOW 3] – Edible, modern landscape design with focal point and lighting design tips

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Episode 3 – Creating an edible, modern garden

Creating a garden that is full of edibles AND looks good, can be quite a daunting challenge. In this episode, landscape designer, Rachel Mathews, will show you how she transformed a garden in Malaysia into a contemporary, food-producing garden.

This episode also looks at how to correctly place focal points like garden statues and water features correctly around the garden. Placing focal points in the correct position in your garden makes a tremendous difference to how you view it. Rachel will show you how the best locations to put any garden feature.

There are also tips on how to place landscape lighting around your garden to enhance the design and make it look spectacular at night. There’s a trick to successfully lighting a garden well and Rachel will show you exactly what you need to do.


Competition time!

What was it that made the garden featured on today’s show modern and not traditional?

Rachel will randomly pick a winner from the correct answers and she will email you if you are a winner! Good luck.

What else would you like to see featured in future Garden Design Show episodes?

Is there something you are struggling with in your garden that you’d like some advice on? Let Rachel know what topics you’d like her to cover for you in future episodes in the comment boxes below.

Need Help with Your Garden?

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

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Plant Selection – Jolly in January

Garden planting in January can be one of the hardest months to have the garden look good in. It’s the time of year where the evergreen plants really come in to their own.

JAN-plants-selectionRight click image and choose ‘Save As’ to download a larger version.

How to make sure the plants you add look good for the whole year

I generally try to make sure that the evergreen shrubs I put in to gardens have more than one function. So for example, I will use the interesting shape leaves of the Aucuba to create a more dramatic and architectural feel to a border. I will also take into account their bold yellow leaf markings and tie that colour in with other flowering plants, for continuity.

So, always think about why you are choosing a plant. Avoid plants that only look good for the five days that they flower and pick plants that will do more for your planting scheme than the sum of their foliage or flowers, think about their colour, shape and form.

Helleborus orientalis

This great little hellebore flowers from January right through to April, in a good year. They also look wonderful alongside flowering heathers (see last month’s plant selection for more details on those). The only issue I have with hellebores is I wish they’d look up! The full beauty of the flowers can’t be seen unless you make the effort to bend down and lift up the flowers. Or, you could always plant them in raised beds, to see them properly!

Aucuba Sulphurea Marginata

I much prefer the large yellow margin on the leaf to the normal, speckled yellow, that you see everywhere. The bold leaves make an excellent backdrop for other plants and the yellow helps contrast with blue and purple flowers as well as link with yellow flowers.

Mahonia aquifolium Apollo

This Mahonia is a much lower growing variety than we featured in last month’s plant selection. The foliage isn’t quite as dramatic as the variety ‘Charity’, but it’s much better if you are limited for space. The flowers also more than make up for the slightly less impressive foliage.

Cotoneaster Cornubia

Although this Cotoneaster will have lost all its berries by now, the evergreen, arching foliage is still good to look at in the winter months. This particular variety of Cotoneaster is big, so make sure you plant it at the back of borders. It will offset other plants nicely and it shows off a glorious display of white flowers in the spring, followed by berry laden branches in the autumn.

Cornus Midwinter Beauty

This is one of my favourite dogwoods. The photo does not do this justice, at all. You need to place it in front of something with dark green foliage, to really show off the orange/red stems. This variety of Cornus is much smaller than most. They work best planted in groups of three or more. They are as dull as anything the rest of the year, with plain green leaves, but even so, well worth having, just plant a flowering perennial in front, for the summer months.

BUT do be warned, plants alone will NOT give you a stunning garden – you have to get the design layout right first. If you don’t know how to do that then…

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:

[DESIGN SHOW 2] – How to Design a Garden

This Garden Design Show episode features the first quick-sketch challenge. In ten minutes or less, Rachel will come up with as many ideas as she can for a viewer’s garden in the UK.

You’ll be able to see how to plan a garden from scratch and how important correctly dividing the space in your garden is. Rachel will show you how to make your garden look more visually interesting by using some cunning design tricks. She’ll also show you how you can get a feel of the perspective, to help you visualise how your finished garden will look.

She will also discuss the costs of getting your garden built as well as how you can reduce costs to work to your budget. This episode also covers how to create a low-maintenance garden, that suits your home and tastes.

Rachel will also give you the answer to the question featured in the last episode and tell you how you can submit your garden to be featured as part of the show.

What Would You Like to See Covered in Future Shows?

I’d love to get your ideas for future shows so that this can be as beneficial to you as possible. Leave a comment me know what topics you’d like me to delve into in future episodes in the comment boxes below?

If you’d like your garden to be featured for the quick sketch design challenge, enter your details here: Subscribe via the Successful Garden Design YouTube channel (iTunes coming soon).

Need Help with Your Garden?

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:

[DESIGN SHOW 1] Californian garden design plan and how to place feature lighting

In this Garden Design Show Episode…

Rachel will show you how she has designed a wide garden, near LA. She’ll discuss how to get the most from your landscaping materials, to enhance the space in your garden.

How you divide the space in your garden, no matter what shape it is, holds the key to successful design. The garden featured in this episode is a wide garden shape. If your garden is long, just imagine turning the plan around and you’ll get an idea of how dividing the space will work in your garden.

How to Correctly Place Feature Lighting in Your Garden

Rachel will also show you the best way to use feature lighting in your garden. Good feature lighting will really give your garden the wow factor. They do tend to be dearer than traditional garden lighting, but you don’t need many to really liven up your garden at night. Correct placement is critical in order to get the most from your lighting as Rachel demonstrates in the video.

Here are the feature lights she highlighted in the show:

The Havana Pendant lights can be seen here:
The less expensive Pod Lense light 
The Mia Serata floor light
Good quality, standard garden lighting

Your Chance to Win the Garden Design Workshop

Just answer this question in the comments section below: What is it that Rachel didn’t discuss much in the video, that you would expect her to talk about in a garden? Why didn’t she discuss this particular thing?

What Would You Like to See Covered in Future Shows?

Leave a comment and let Rachel know what topics you’d like her to delve into in future episodes! If you’d like your garden to be featured for the quick sketch design challenge, enter your details on the Successful Garden Design Facebook Page. Subscribe via the Successful Garden Design YouTube channel (iTunes coming soon).

Want to Learn More Top Tips on Transforming Your Garden?

Take a look at the online garden design courses that we run here at Successful Garden Design.

And attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:

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