Archives for March 2017

Plant Selection – Amazing in April

Finally, spring is actually with us (albeit for brief and teasing snatches here in the UK). It means our plant choices are getting more varied.

So following on from March’s subtle planting scheme that wouldn’t clash with all the spring flowering bulbs, this month’s garden plant selection has brighter colours but will still compliment all the bright bulb colours. This selection is part 1 of the scheme, part 2 will be in May and will carry on the intense purple and lime combination…

APR-plants-selection

Right click on this link to download a larger version.

Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’ – ‘Lungwort’

This makes a great groundcover plant. The leaves are speckled with white, making it stand out from the crowd. ‘Lungworts’ as they are often known, will grow in shade to part shade and prefer slightly moist soils. The gorgeous cobalt blue flowers start out a purple shade and turn blue with age. This is possibly so that insects know which flowers have already been pollinated! Flowers aside, the white splashed leaves are attractive until they disappear in the late autumn.

Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ – Mexican Orange Blossom

This is one of my favourite Choisyas. The fine cut, evergreen, foliage, means there’s some green to look at all year round. The white, strongly scented, flowers make it wonderful to walk past. They are fairly slow growing can reach over 6ft tall, in time. You can keep them smaller with yearly pruning. They will grow well in sun or shade and will grow on most soil types. They don’t like frosts much, so a bit of winter protection is a good idea.

Phormium Variegata – New Zealand Flax

I love the striking, spiky foliage of all the Phormiums. This is one of my favourites as the gentle yellow variegation makes the leaves more interesting and in this combination, it draws in the yellow from the Euphorbia. These prefer full sun and will grow in most soils, reaching heights of over 6ft, so put them in areas with room to grow. They are reasonably hardy, but again, not lovers of frosts, so a bit of winter protection is a good idea in colder areas.

Erysimum Bowle’s Mauve – Evergreen wallflower

This is such an under-used plant in my opinion. It flowers for MONTHS, not just in April. In a good year, it can flower from February right through to July! It’s fairly easy to grow, as long as conditions aren’t too wet or to cold. It has evergreen, slightly blue tinged leaves and gets about two and a half feet tall. Definitely worth giving a go.

Euphorbia polychroma – Spurge

The acid green leaves and flowers of this Euphorbia are stunning, especially when combined with purple flowers like the Erysimum above and Alliums which follow in May. Seeing this plant flower in April, really lifts my spirits every year. Its bright flowers light up the garden. You do of course need to be a little careful of the sap as it is can cause skin irritations for some people, so perhaps not a good idea if you have small children running around that like pull plants to pieces! It will grow in semi-shade to full sun if there’s enough moisture in the ground.

What are you favourite plants for April?

So you know my favs, what are yours? Leave your suggestions in the comment boxes below!

Want to learn more about choosing and combining plants?

Check out the Plant Design Formula.

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: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/freeclasses/

Modern, awkward shape garden design – Wolfgang’s garden

I’m very pleased to be featuring Wolfgang’s garden in this week’s SGD Student Hall of Fame. Wolfgang lives in Germany and this is the garden he had to contend with once the house was completed!

Yikes! What to do with a garden like this?

Firstly: LEARN ABOUT GARDEN DESIGN (if you’re going to DIY).

The best way, and of course I would say this, is to buy an online garden design course! Specifically The Great Garden Formula – which is exactly what Wolfgang did.

He tried various different designs as he progressed through the course, the first one we show in the video he’s kindly created showing us around his design.

Video Tour of Wolfgang’s Design

I really love the metal panel sections in between the hedging, that you can see in the video – think I might have to ‘borrow’ that idea! And thank goodness Wolfgang came to my rescue with navigating on SketchUp!

The Construction Process

Wolfgang had NO previous garden design experience before doing the course and he has painstakingly built the entire garden, virtually single-handedly, in his spare time!

Progress has been slow, but I think you’ll agree, all his time and effort has paid off handsomely. We look forward to seeing how the garden looks when it’s finished.

On Completion

The garden should look like this once it’s complete.

Want to learn to DIY design your garden?

If you’d like to do the online training course Wolfgang did – the Great Garden Formula online course.* You can find out more details about that here: http://successfulgardendesigncourses.com/great-garden-formula/iPad-GGF-courses-300x163

* Please note: we don’t train students how to use CAD or Sketchup, our methods teach how to sketch out ideas by hand – but some people prefer to use a computer – either way, it’s the design principles that are important, not how you implement them!

The Great Garden Formula is our flagship course and it teaches you everything you need to know about design and is geared towards people who might want to design gardens professionally or for professionals who want to increase their skills.

We have a variety of other courses that are smaller – you can see them here: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/courses/

 

Front garden design makeover – Case study

Front gardens can be difficult to get right because often as not, they have to be functional, to accommodate the car and driveway or utility area for bins.

Just because a driveway is there, it doesn’t mean to say that the area should not be treated as a garden and be made to look beautiful.

FrontGarden

So how do you go about making a practical space a beautiful one?

Step 1 Design it as if it were a garden first, then make it practical.

This is the most important part of the design process. If you get too bogged down in the practicalities of having a functional driveway or a place to store the bins etc., then you often won’t be able to come up with something that looks pretty.

Whereas if you tackle it the other way round and have a garden first and foremost, do the design you’d like to have, and then work out how to accommodate the car and a drive etc., then it becomes much easier to create something of beauty.

Step 2 Get creative with the shapes that you use.

Your front garden doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Experiment using sweeping bold curves, circular shapes, or if you have a very modern house perhaps interlocking block shapes.

If the area is small, try to use shapes and materials that will visually make space larger.

Step 3 Now you need to make it practical.

So, now you’ve designed your front garden as you would had it has been just a garden, we need to start to think about how you can incorporate space for a car or utility area, or whatever your practical needs are for your front garden.

So obviously, you will now need to modify what you’ve already done on paper, but doing it this way round will enable you to create something much more artistic and visually pleasing.

If you have to accommodate a car into your driveway, allow a lot more room than you think you need.

Front garden case study

Before the builders added an extension to this house, the front garden had just been lawn with a few plants. After the building work had finished, there wasn’t much of either left! However, the owners did not want to go back to having a plain old boring lawn. For a start, there’s the additional maintenance of grass cutting, and they thought that it could look better than just grass.

In our case study garden, a bold sweeping curve shape was cut into the tarmac drive and then small natural stone paving slabs were laid in a random bond, mixed with light coloured gravel and planting.

The paving slabs were of a thickness that if they needed an additional car parking space, near where the pot is on the photograph below, they could take the weight without cracking.

Frontgarden1

Thymes were planted in gaps left in the paving, and these could take being driven on occasionally. This allowed for the area to still look like a garden, yet function as a parking space.

The paving also functioned as a path to the front door as well as around the planting sections. By using the same material all the way through, and in their relatively small sizes, it makes the area appear larger and the consistent use of materials brings clarity to the scheme.

Need more help?

If you’d like to learn more about exactly how you can transform your garden, then check out the online garden design courses I run here at Successful Garden Design.

Learn how to design your garden – Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/freeclasses/

 

Questions or comments?

Leave them in the box below!

Changing a ‘nice enough’ garden that isn’t nice enough!

Nice-Garden-Before

A ‘nice enough’ garden, but could it be made better?

A few years back, a friend of mine asked me to redesign the garden of a house she’d just bought. I was happy to help as I could see there was lots of room for improvement.

Her family were all keen gardeners, and by the look on their faces, they were somewhat aghast at her getting a garden designer in! The garden was perfectly ‘nice enough’ as it was, surely? It only needed a few extra plants and it would be great. Getting the whole garden redesigned was unnecessary and might ruin it!

I can only imagine what horrors were running through their minds of what a designer might do…

A very common problem

If you have a garden that is already quite nice, the concern is often that you might ruin what you have now. One thing I can absolutely promise you, is that a good design will never ruin what you’ve got, it will only improve it.

The average garden can and should be so much more than average. So please don’t settle for the average boring and bland backyard!

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create great looking garden

Really, you don’t. Of course, you can spend a lot of money if you want to, but you actually don’t have to. The trick to creating an amazing looking garden is all down to how you arrange the space. That basically is what shape lawn/patio area you put in. If you already have a patio down, then it’s just the shape of your lawn that will need to change.

Just reshaping your lawn to get a lovely looking garden might sound far too good to be true, but it really is the key to creating a great looking garden. The reason it is so powerful is because you are controlling the shapes within your garden.With the right shapes you can make a garden look larger and more interesting.

OVAL-Garden2a

Most people do it the other way round. They add the plants and then the space that is left is an odd shape lawn. By doing it in reverse and choosing the correct shape lawn first, the areas that are left are where the plants go. It will also help prevent you from having a random lawn shape that is disjointed and doesn’t help the garden to flow visually.

A ‘nice enough’ garden case study

The key to transforming my friend’s garden came down to getting (you guessed it) the right shape lawn in!  A very simple oval shaped lawn with a brick edge surrounding it was the basis for the entire garden. The old concrete patio was dug up and replaced with natural stone paving laid in a random bond style (lots of different sizes mixed together).

The sizes of the paving was quite small to make the space look larger, and the different sizes works well with the modern cottage garden style that we were aiming for to match the house and owner’s tastes. The same paving is also used in the raised patio at the far end of the garden.

A timber planting rail, to match the neighbours fence, was added to the top patio, making it more enclosed and creating an interesting area at the end of the garden.

OVAL-Garden2

Design does make the difference

If we had just added more plants in the garden, it really wouldn’t have looked much different. My friend loved the new look to her garden and thankfully, so did all her family. Phew! It would have been rather awkward if they hadn’t!Oval-Garden-mature1

Need more help?

If you’d like to learn more about exactly how you can transform your garden, then check out the online garden design courses I run here at Successful Garden Design.

I particularly recommend signing up for our FREE web class… 

Learn how to design your garden – Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/freeclasses/

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