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Planning Your Small Scale Garden

Part 2 – Planting Your Small Scale Garden


In a small garden every plant counts and plants with ‘multi-season’ interest are particularly valuable. Look for plants that offer flowers and fruit, foliage and flowers, or plants that have autumn colour or interesting stems or foliage during winter.

Plants that have both flowers and fruit
These include plants that have the added bonus of foliage interest as well. Berberis forms can really come into their own here, for example the tiny Berberis thunbergii ‘Tiny Gold’ which has yellow leaves, young red shoots, yellow spring flowers and red fruit in autumn. Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Admiration’ has red-orange leaves but is otherwise similar. There is now a range of disease-resistant Hypericum which have yellow flowers and coloured fruits, try Hypericum Magical Beauty = ‘Kolmbeau’ for its berries that start peachy-pink. If you want a good-sized, handsome shrub the fan-shaped, golden-leaved Leycesteria formosa Golden Lanterns = ‘Notbruce’ has red flowers and purple fruits that provide interest all summer through.Small Garden Flowers and Fruit
Plants that have winter interest
Consider flowering plants with foliage that changes colour in winter. Some Hebes have this quality, coming in a range of sizes and needing a spot that has sunshine in winter. Try the compact Hebe ‘Caledonia’ with violet flowers and rose-purple winter foliage whilst Hebe ‘Pascal’ has copper-red winter foliage. Amongst herbaceous plants Bergenia often have burnished winter foliage, for example Bergenia ‘Overture’ has bright pink spring flowers and leaves that are burgundy in winter. The stems of dogwoods can positively glow in winter sunlight – for beautiful variegated foliage and red stems try Cornus alba ‘Spaethi’ or Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ for good autumn colour followed by orange winter stems. These are cut back to near ground-level in spring, once established.Small Garden Winter Interest Plants
Plants with exceptional foliage
Evergreens in particular can provide interest throughout the year. Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Gold Star’ has dainty shimmering foliage and can be pruned for containment if space is limited. In warm gardens the exotic Coprosma and Lophomyrtus forms, some of which change colour at different seasons, can be fascinating. Try Coprosma repens ‘Tequila Sunrise’ or Lophomyrtus x ralphii ‘Red Dragon’ with red to black foliage. Slow but beautiful Nandina domestica ‘Wood’s Dwarf’ glows red in winter and is gold, green and red in summer. For foliage drama where a feature plant can be accommodated Fatsia japonica ‘Spiser’s Web’ is exotic, with huge variegated leaves.
Plants with Exceptional Foliage
Plants for a hot and dry place
Where your garden has a hot and dry area, herbaceous plants can be invaluable. Slugs permitting, try Alstroemeria, coming in a huge range of sizes and happy in a container, such as Alstroemeria ‘Orange Gem’. Striking Abutilon with big bell-flowers can be grown as annuals, try apricot-flowered Abutilon ‘Linda Vista Peach’. Colourful Zinnias have a long season, if deadheaded, an example being Zinnia marylandica ‘Zahara Yellow’ (Zahara Series). Sedums also have a place in a hot spot. In winter they provide architectural interest with their flat brown seed heads, try grey purple Sedum ‘Matrona’. Frothy purple fennel is lovely placed at the rear, especially Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’. Requiring little attention Salvias, such as the small shrub Salvia microphylla ‘Pink Blush’ has rich pink flowers for months whilst silvered Convolvulus cneorum is decorative all summer.Plants for a Hot and Dry Place

This has just dipped a toe into the possibilities. We haven’t even started on walls and fences that can be clad in repeat-flowering climbing Roses paired with Clematis…

Enjoy!

This blog post was kindly contributed by Susan A. Tindall

Hellebores – the Christmas rose

Hellebores must be in the top ten of desirable garden plants, delivering flowers from December to May, and generally lasting for years if happy in your garden. The simple charm of the wild species has been supplemented by ever more complex hybrids to produce plants that are beautiful in both leaf and flower, excellent in a container as well as the garden.

Hellebores

Helleborus niger the Christmas rose, has always been one of the earliest forms to flower, often, as the name suggests, around Christmas. In recent years showier forms have been introduced with marbled foliage and flowers that turn pink with age, an example being Helleborus niger HGC Snow Frills = ‘Coseh 230’. The robust Helleborus argutifolius with its pale green scented flowers, is an old favourite and good for lightening shady spots. Its easy-going habit may not appeal to those who like rigidly disciplined plants.

Hellebores

The Helleborus x hybridus forms look particularly good planted in the garden. There are both single and double-flowered forms in shades of black, purple, maroon, red, white, cream and yellow. Many of them hang their heads so, in the manner of snowdrops, you need to lift the flower gently upwards with a finger in order to reveal the beauty within. Those with light-coloured flowers, for example Helleborus x hybridus Ashwood Garden hybrids – cream-spotted are visible at a distance and can be positioned so they can be enjoyed from a window. The dark-flowered forms, like the dark beauty Helleborus x hybridus ‘Hillier’s hybrid slate’, have an alluring mystery, so mysterious that they can completely disappear from view if incorrectly placed, so put these in the foreground. Elegant single-flowered forms, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Harvington double yellow’ for instance, can be combined with the many-petalled doubles.

Hellebores can be planted in small well-spaced groups or dotted amongst spring bulbs, pulmonaria, epimedium and primroses. Plan for their summer foliage effect when spacing plants as hellebores can become substantial. The hellebore x hybridus varieties have large whorled leaflets and, as they mature, make a mound of dark green foliage that makes a quiet interlude when not in flower. They can usefully be planted in front of taller deciduous shrubs that will be a highlight in your garden at other seasons. They thrive in part or light shade and can be planted on the ‘shady side’ of large plants, provided there is an access path that can be used to view them.  During winter, when, or before the plant flowers, the old leaves are best cut to the ground so the flowers are visible, the young foliage swiftly re-grows.

Hellebores

Luscious hybrids have been developed to maximise foliage, as well as floral appeal. These are both expensive and irresistible. They merit extra care, with soil that is always moist, a sheltered, partly shaded position and some space. They can work well as ‘spot plants’ in the garden, or often succeed best as specimens in large containers. Helleborus (Rodney Davey Marbled Group) ‘Anna’s Red’ with pink and green marbled foliage, Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ with jagged silvered foliage, and dusky pink Helleborus x ballardiae Snow Dance = ‘Coseh 800’ among many others, are good examples of these aristocrats.

Enjoy!

This blog post was kindly contributed by Susan A. Tindall

Using Hydrangeas in the Garden

HydrangeaIn a container:
Hydrangeas all enjoy plenty of moisture. If you can’t, or don’t wish to spend time watering the garden but can manage a few containers, fill one or more with hydrangeas. Paired pots of hydrangeas are round in shape, have a formal look and look good placed one each side of a path or entrance. Try the stylish white-flowered Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Black Steel Zebra’ which is around a metre in height and spread, with a floral season that starts in July. For a really compact container plant the 45cm high Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Papillon‘ which has flowers that are pink in alkaline soil and shaped like some begonias. This could be placed with containers of Begonia (Nonstop Series), to intriguing effect and they should both start to flower during July.

In the border:
Hydrangeas can be surprisingly effective as part of a mixed planting in a flower border. The more delicate flowers of the lacecap forms with their domed heads can be interesting.  For pink flowers try with frothy magenta pink Astilbes such as Astilbe chinensis var. tacquetii ‘Superba’, or as a contrast to elegant hardy Lobelias such as Lobelia ‘Compton Pink’. Alternatively the exuberant whorled flowers of Monarda such as pale pink Monarda ‘Fishes’ make good companions.

If you have acidic soil and can grow those elusive blue hydrangeas (for example 1.5 metre high lacecap Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Zorro’, try them with the dark blue columnar flowers of monkshood such as Aconitum napellus, the warm lavender-blue of Phlox paniculata ‘Eventide’, or the stately pale blue spikes of Veronicastrum virginicum. All these border selections enjoy plenty of moisture.
Hydrangea

For something dramatic:
Hydrangea paniculata forms can stand 3 metres or more in height and are at their best from late summer, going through autumn. They develop large heads of conical flowers, often white or pink, and turn pink with age. They are spectacular in flower, yet often overlooked. These need plenty of moisture and acidic or neutral soil. Try 3 metres tall Hydrangea paniculata ‘Brussels Lace’, or for a small garden use modern cultivars at half the height such as Hydrangea paniculata ‘Silver Dollar’. Smaller Hydrangea macrophylla or serrata forms can be grown in front of them. They can also be grown in the company of other stalwart garden favourites with different seasons of interest such as spring flowering Forsythia, the colourful winter stems of dogwoods such as Cornus sanguinea ‘Magic Flame’, or evergreens such as Camellia and Pieris.

For exceptional foliage:
The oak leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia forms) have large leaves, like those of an oak in their shape. They have rich autumn tints as well as beautiful flowers and can look sumptuous. These come in a range of sizes but at 1.5 metres, with a greater spread, try Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Sikes Dwarf’. These hydrangeas look beautiful when grown with witch hazels such as the pale yellow winter flowers of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ which has fine autumn colour that complements the hydrangea.

For that awkward wall:
Hydrangeas can be the perfect solution. In the mildest parts of the country try Hydrangea serratifolia. For north-facing walls, Hydrangea anomala subsp. Petiolaris with its white lacecap flowers in spring, is a first rate choice.

Enjoy!

This blog post was contributed by Susan A. Tindall

Hebes in the Garden

Garden centres and online sites usually have a gathering of Hebes. The featured plants are generally small with long shiny leaves that may be green or carry bright, even curious variegation. There are often ‘tussocks’ of flowers in just about every shade but yellow or orange. They are indeed hard to resist, and are ideal subjects for containers on the patio. Surely one can do more with them.

Hebe 'Sparkling Sapphires'

Hebe ‘Sparkling Sapphires’

Containers have their uses. They are a good setting for many modern cultivars that have variegated foliage, Hebe ‘Sparkling Sapphires’ for example could be used in a pair of containers set on each side of a pathway. The golden foliage of Hebe ‘Golden Anniversary’ can provide a warm gold backdrop to busy containers that froth with annuals.

They can also look remarkably good planted in a border or as a feature, primarily for foliage interest. Invest in a group of three, choosing plants with a good solid form, such as Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’ with glossy green leaves and purple flowers in August and September. Plant in a triangle set half a metre from each other and this will develop as a striking feature for year round interest. This would contrast well with other variegated and showy plants. If you want just one plant, the willow-like foliage of Hebe salicifolia and its frothy mass of white flowers in summer, is a delight.

Hebe Bronze Glow = 'Lowglo'

Hebe Bronze Glow = ‘Lowglo’

Hebes also look surprisingly good planted singly in borders, or round the feet of roses. The rather unattractive rose stems can be completely hidden by a compact Hebe. Try Hebe Bronze Glow = ‘Lowglo’ with its bronzed foliage and blue spring flowers that combine so well with tulips in spring and pink or red roses in summer.

In addition to these lush, leafy Hebes there are other distinctive varieties. For sheltered spots the silvered grey and blue leaves of dainty Hebe ‘Glaucophylla Variegata’ can make an exceptional contribution. Use it as a tall highlight above low-growing herbaceous plants in a sunny spot. Even more exquisite is silvered Hebe pimeleoides ‘Quicksilver’ which has outreaching horizontal branches, wonderful as an edging plant or on a raised bed.

Hebe 'Mrs Winder'

Hebe ‘Mrs Winder’

Hebes that have close-textured foliage such as the tight dome of Hebe recurva ‘Boughton Silver’ make a huge contribution to often shaggy and characterful plants in a Mediterranean-style garden. The whipleaf Hebes with their conifer-like branches can make tiny specimens in a rock garden. Hebe ochraceae ‘James Stirling‘ (a curious shade of burnt gold, is highly distinctive.

Finally, Hebes for winter colour. Many Hebes have foliage that changes colour in cold weather, a valuable asset indeed for those long dull months. If you have space, try the magnificent Hebe ‘Mrs Winder’ coloured red-mahogany in winter, or the smaller Hebe ‘Caledonia’ which is rose-purple is equally good. There are others, worth a bit of research in your Plant Finder, if you have trouble choosing the one among many that are on offer.

Enjoy your Hebes.

This blog post was contributed by Susan A. Tindall

Bedding Plants at Longacres

We are well into the Spring season and before we know it Summer will be upon us, so make sure that you are well prepared to introduce lots of splashes of colours, scents, butterflies and bees into your garden by buying your bedding from Longacres, where we have hundreds of different varieties to suit every type of gardener and garden!

Antirrhinums, Petunias, Geraniums, Fuchsias, Impatiens, Lobelias, Marigolds and Nicotianas are just a small example of the bedding plants available to buy both in store or online from as little as £1.39 in a 9cm pot, £1.99 as a 6 pack of boxed bedding, or just £2.99 as a 12 pack of boxed bedding.

Our grower of bedding plants, Perfect Choice, have invested in a stylish, bright and bold new delivery van to transport all of our bedding plants to us ready to offer to you!

Perfect Choice New Van

Perfect Choice is a small family run nursery just 8 miles down the road from us in Locally grown plants have lots of advantages; it means less of a carbon footprint, plants are as fresh and perfect as they come, we save on distribution costs (which means a better price for you, our customer!), and finally we are supporting the local economy and of course another family run business – just like ours.

Visit us in store to view the full bedding range, or click here to view the online range.

Please note when buying online that you can mix and match all boxed bedding but the total number of boxes must be a minimum of 6.

Roses in Containers

Rose
Many of the roses that are presently fashionable are quite small, standing between 45cm and 80cm in height. They can easily be lost in a garden unless carefully placed, or grown as part of a group of like-coloured flowers so they can make an impact. It is often better to grow these roses in containers, which means the flowers are raised to a higher position, and the containers can be moved into prominent positions when the plant is at its best, either on the patio or positioned between other plants in a border. Roses and other plants can start their life with you in a container, but can be planted out in the garden at a later time.

Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet'

Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’

Small, rather fragile roses that haven’t developed good root systems may best be grown on their own in a container. When a number of plants are grown in the same pot there is competition for the available resources – both water and nutrients – and the rose needs to have a good, established root system to effectively hold its own. In these cases it can be really attractive to have a group of several containers, preferably matching. The plants that you grow in them can complement or contrast with the flowers of the centrepiece – the rose. Good effects can be achieved by having a whole container filled with plants of a single colour. For example purple Petunias, red Verbena, bold golden Marigolds or the deep blue of delicate Nigella. You can also use companion plants that are grown for their foliage such as the woolly silvered, non-flowering Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ or the trailing silvered round leaves of a plant such as Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’. These colours combine well with pink roses. Other foliage plants can be utilised such as the intriguing rose and mahogany tints of Heuchera ‘Midnight Bayou’.

Diascia (Flying Colours Series) 'Flying Colours Deep Salmon'

Diascia (Flying Colours Series) ‘Flying Colours Deep Salmon’

Alternately a rose can be grown in the same container as other plants. For this option the container needs to be of a substantial size so that all the plants can thrive. It is usually more effective to choose small, dainty flowers to contrast with the often large and solid blooms of the rose. Suggestions include Nemesia that will flower all summer through and have alluring colours that will combine well with roses. The showy Nemesia ‘Sundrops’ with its clear orange flowers would go with yellow or peach shades. Or the small flowers of Felicia such as the blue, trailing Felicia amelloides ‘Santa Anita’ that can complement blue or contrast with other light tints. The solid, trailing Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea‘ with its yellow foliage and flowers makes a bold contrast to red roses. Finally, try the white Angelonia ‘Angelface ‘White’ with white roses, or the jolly salmon tints of Diascia such as Diascia (Flying Colours Series) ‘Flying Colours Deep Salmon’, for a lively interaction with yellow, purple, or peach roses.

Notes on rose care:
Put a slow release fertiliser in the container when planting and give the plants an additional feed in mid to late summer. Water very regularly, and when it is hot, be prepared to water twice daily.

Encourage gifts of good-sized matching containers – three make a good group!

This Longacres Blog post was contributed by Susan A. Tindall