Posted by Toni Jux on Wednesday 17th November
In this month’s editorial I'll be reviewing the features of some of Britain's most famous gardens hopefully providing you with some inspiration for your own.
The British people’s reputation for being gardeners stems from our public interest in the subject through television, film and literature and more is embodied by our horticultural achievements particularly in locales such as Alnwick in Northumberland. Located North of Newcastle, this site is one of the most spectacular examples of British horticultural excellence I've been fortunate enough to come across. First of all it's location is less than 40 miles from Northumberland national park, so both natural and tailored beauty can be appreciated in the same day trip. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the garden serves all appetites, regardless of age or preference and this is due to the segregation of genre that applies to its design.
If you're partial to a water feature then check out the grand cascade, more waterfall than feature, it serves as a visual bridge between the lower and upper sections of the site. At it's head you'll find the Ornamental Garden- it alone is home to over 16,000 European species- adjacent to the recently opened Tai Haku Cherry Orchard. At the cascade’s base you'll find a plethora of different horticultural pleasures, if you're entertaining children then you may wish to explore Europe’s largest treehouse complete with souvenir shop, or the interactive water sculptures.
Alternatively, if you wish to learn the potential dangers of the garden, or merely entertain a fascination in the macabre, then the poison garden lies to the immediate left of the falls and is inhabited by species such as Belladonna, Mandrake and Tobacco plant.
Coming south, Cambridge University botanical gardens provide stunning landscapes all year round, having sections of their site specially designated to cater to the aesthetic particulars of each season. Unfortunately I have limited space for review so I'll just cover the Autumn gardens. During the darkening days of the year, the focus is on trees like Metasequoia, a deciduous species that complements the sunfire yellow Maidenhair with it's copper red tint. However this shouldn't suggest the Autumn garden is absent of planting. Crocuses pepper the beds, purple among the sapphire backdrop of Aster x frikartii - plenty of inspiration here then.
Perhaps London's most innovative public garden is Kew gardens, an organic, transient art gallery among beautiful natural surroundings. The most famous aspect of the garden is the Palm House, an innovative green house that contains a microcosmic rainforest based on the eco-systems of South Africa and Madagascar. A marvel of Victorian engineering, this glass mansion was constructed between 1844 and 1848 to accommodate the array of exotic plant life that the Empire wished to preserve from its explorations, some of the species dating back to 1775!
For an eagle eye view of the garden you should utilise the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, designed primarily to exhibit the tree life of Kew i.e. Sweet Chestnut, Lime and Oak. It's entrance is also decorated with tree sculptures marked with educational facts on the history and ecology of the green life you'll be about to witness. At the end of this path there also lies the subterranean Rhizotron, containing an installation explaining the symbiotic relationship between tree roots, the soil and the insects that inhabit it.
So if you're stuck for inspiration this Autumn then go and explore one of these or the hundred thousand other public spaces built for you, the 'green minded', and your family to enjoy.
By Josh Ellison
Posted by Toni Jux on undefined 7th November
November has arrived and although it’s relatively mild here in the south, we have had some frosts already which have done for all the colourful annuals in the garden. However, there are still plenty of plants providing interest at this time of year.
Floral and Hardy’s Top Ten Plants for November:
1. Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Atropurpureum’ –
Japanese Maple – a low-growing, mound-forming maple with deeply cut, rich purple foliage and, like many others of its kind, fantastic scarlet autumn foliage.
2. Callicarpa bodinieri giraldii ‘Profusion’ –
a medium-sized deciduous shrub with oval mid green leaves, often bronze when young, and tiny star-shaped lilac flowers in summer followed by striking clusters of polished purple fruits in autumn and winter.
3. Erica darleyensis -
low-growing evergreen with very fine, needle-like foliage, often with yellow orange tints and masses of white, pink or mauve flowers. Height 45-60cms. They’ll flower for several months but are best grown in acid soil
4. Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’–
a large unprepossessing shrub for most of the year, but in autumn it takes on fabulous autumn colours. The gorgeous, orange-pink, winged fruit which remain long after the leaves have fallen provide a vibrant display, so plant it where it can be seen and enjoyed from the house.
5. Ilex –
Holly - familiar to us all, a large, dense evergreen with glossy green leaves, sometime variegated, tiny cream flowers in early summer followed by red berries. Cut some branches and bring them indoors for Christmas.
6. Iris foetidissima –
rather unfetchingly called the ‘Stinking Iris’, this may put some people off, but this is a shame as it produces, not only pretty pale yellow flowers in early summer, but also very long-lasting orange-red berries from autumn to spring. It also has attractive, evergreen, strappy foliage and is a ‘grow anywhere type’ of plant. Apparently, when cut, the leaves smell of roast beef, although I have never noticed it!
7. Liriope muscari –
Lilyturf – coming to the end of its season, but still a valuable source of late colour, this perennial has spikes of purple flowers above evergreen, grassy, dark green foliage. Height 20-25cms.
8. Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’ –
a spectacular, towering grass with plumes of silvery pink flowers in late summer. Leave them standing through the winter as they look fabulous in the low autumn light and with winter frosts.
9. Pyracantha -
large, prickly, evergreen wall shrub with cream flowers for the bees in June and red, orange or yellow berries for the birds in winter.
10. Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ -
not for the small garden perhaps, this is a large erect deciduous shrub with many clusters of fragrant pink flowers in winter. Height 2-3ms. Plant near entrances to take advantage of the perfume, or cut some and bring it indoors.
Top Tip: Berrying plants provide a valuable source of food for birds, but if you don’t want the berries stripped from your plants choose the lighter coloured ones – the red ones tend to go first!
November Tips and Advice:
1. As the last of the leaves fall from the trees, have a good tidy up and clear them all away from the borders and from the lawn. Put them on the compost heap, if you’ve got one. If not you can bag them up in black sacks with a few holes in them – they’ll rot down over winter to produce a good leafy mulch for next year.
2. Give the lawn its final cut, but not if it’s frosty or wet.
3. If you live in a mild area you can prune your roses now (leave it until March if you don’t). Cut the stems back to an outward facing bud with a slanting cut so that rain doesn’t sit on the top, causing it to rot. Don’t worry too much about technique though, as roses are surprisingly tolerant.
4. If you have ordered bare-rooted roses, they’ll be arriving shortly - get them unpacked and planted in well-prepared ground as soon as you can so that they don’t dry out.
5. It’s not too late to plant deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers as the soil’s still warm enough for them to make some new root growth before winter, but evergreens should wait until spring. Bare-rooted trees and shrubs are particularly good value.
6. This is the latest month to plant Tulips.
7. If you haven’t already, move any tender plants you have in pots, such as Bananas, Tree Ferns, Cannas, Colocasias and Agapanthus, into the greenhouse to protect them from frost.
8. If your tender plants are growing in the ground, and you live in a milder area, you can protect them with straw in the crowns, or in the case of bananas, with tall terracotta chimney pots or drainpipes stuffed with straw.
9. Alternatively, once the foliage is blackened by frosts, you can lift Dahlia, Colocasia and Canna tubers, remove the foliage to within 5-8cms of the tuber and dry out, removing any parts that look as though they may have rotted. Store in boxes of dry bark chippings, crowns exposed, in a cool, dry, frost-free place.
10. If you’ve got a water feature it’s advisable, though not essential, to remove submersible pumps for the winter. Clean them and store in a dry place. If you leave them in though, just run the pump every week or so during the winter.
By Helen Ellison, Garden Designer