Category: Design


On a recent visit to Tavistock, I went over to see how the extended ‘Devon Wall’ I’d seen some months ago was looking…though mainly shades of green now, as most flowering is in the spring time, it was looking superb. Well done that gardener!

Old School Gardener

Sedum 'Chocolate Drop'- the foliage as attractive as the flower- and what a combination!

Sedum ‘Chocolate Drop’- the foliage as attractive as the flower- and what a combination!

We tend to think a lot – some of us almost entirely – about flower colour when we consider planting in the garden. Leaves last far longer than blooms, so why not go for a combination of flower and foliage that will add texture to flower colour and shape?

Some leaves are striped, others marbled or speckled, while others range from purple, silver and blue, to butter-yellow or lime-green. Geranium (Cranesbill) and succulent-leaved Sedum are good examples of plants that pack a punch with their leaves, as do Hostas and Lamium.

Stipa gigantea- wonderful

Stipa gigantea- wonderful

You can creat a soft, billowing effect with plants that have feathery foliage, such as Bronze Fennel, or those with masses of leaflets, such as Aquilegia and many of the ferns. Ornamental grasses can also be used to soften displays; many are particularly useful because they are drought tolerant. I grow several here at Old School Garden, and I love the variety they add to a herbaceous border with an evergreen structure of shrubs; Stipa gigantea is especially lovely when the late afternoon sunlight catches its stalks and waving awns.

From flower to seedpod- Agapanthus

From flower to seedpod- Agapanthus

To sum up….

  • Blend foliage plants with flowering ones to keep the border looking at its best over the longest possible time.

  • Combine foliage and flowers that contrast with each other in colour,shape and texture.

  • Use plants with ornamental seed pods, such as Agapanthus, Feathery grass heads, such as Pampas grass and evergreen foliage.

  • Use plants with variegated leaves, such as striped, blotched and marbled, to their full advantage.

  • Choose flowering plants that have attractive foliage, such as Alchemilla mollis and geranium so that they add interest to the border over several months.

Hostas are usually grown for their foliage- which comes in all sorts of patterns and hues, but the flowers can also be very attractive

Hostas are usually grown for their foliage- which comes in all sorts of patterns and hues, but the flowers can also be very attractive

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest, 1999

Old School Gardener

 

Hmm... a suitable case for treatment?

Hmm… a suitable case for treatment?

You can extend the life of a freestanding garden brick wall, provided it is still safe.

First, cap the wall top with a coping of engineering bricks, which are water resistant. alternatively use tiles laid on the slant, so that water easily runs off.

Next, cover nearby plants with plastic sheeting, then rake out loose areas of mortar using a wire brush.

Repoint the wall where necessary using a ready-made mortar mix to save time using your own. If the walllooks like (it is probably worth trying to match the mortar to the colour of the existing if you can, so for an old wall it might mean using lime mortar).

Finish off by painting on a silicone sealer to extend the wall’s life and stop algal growth on shady walls. To finish off you can apply two coats of masonry paint- there are plenty of colours available…maybe black or dark green to show off those nice foliage plants and flowers you’ll plant in front?

This approach can be used on freestanding walls, such as those used as garden boundaries. But if your wall forms part of the house and it’s exposed to the elements, then it’s wise to avoid coating it as it needs to ‘breathe’; repointing is the best method of  repair here.

The ultimate in painted walls- extend your garden with a 'Tromp l'oeil'!

The ultimate in painted walls- extend your garden with a ‘Tromp d’oeiul’!

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest 1999

Old School Gardener

 

 

brick pedestalThe simplest ornament has more impact if it is raised. Keep your costs down by making your own pedestal; use a length of clay drainpipe, about a third taller than it is wide. Alternatively use some old bricks to make a pedestal. Place a paving slab on a level bed of sand; cement the pipe or place the bricks on top of it. Fix a slightly smaller slab on top with cement and finish off with your ornament; this could be a large sea shell, bird bath or whatever….

You can also use 10- and 18-inch-diameter PVC pipes cut to varying heights to serve as bases for applying a mosaic surface. Overturned terra-cotta saucers turn two of the pipes into pedestals; the third cradles a flowerpot….

mosaic pillarsAnother idea is to make your own concrete pillars, stain them terracotta and put terracotta planters atop them….

stained concrete pillarsChimney pots can also make great planters or pedestals….

chimney pot planterAnd why not some sawn off tree trunks or chicken wire gabions filled with stones…

Or some simple sticks stuck around a piece of wood…

bundle sticks pedestalSources:

‘Good Ideas for your Garden’- Reader’s Digest, 1995

Pinterest

Old School Gardener

P1020823aSeen from indoors, or as you approach a stepped entrance, pots can make a ready-staged display as they mount the stairs. But always make sure that the pots do not obstruct the route and that they cannot fall or be kicked over. You can fix the pots in place with a dab or two of cement, as long as the drainage holes are not blocked, but this means they cannot be moved. The simplest way to secure each pot is to wrap a loop of gardening wire firmly round it and tie the ends of the wire to side railings or other firmly fixed uprights.

Source: ‘Good Ideas for Your Garden’- Reader’s Digest 1995

Old School Gardener

Front Loading

A magnificent Kitchen Garden 'out front' in Drummondsville, Quebec, Canada

A magnificent Kitchen Garden ‘out front’ in Drummondsville, Quebec, Canada

Front Gardens under the Spotlight

A new study to help understand what impact front gardens have on their owners and passers-by has been commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Scientists from the RHS are teaming up with academics from the Universities of Sheffield (UK) and Virginia (USA).

They’ll be employing a PhD student to help determine how gardening affects the mood and psychological health of people who have not gardened before, by helping them, amongst other things,  to ‘green over’ once paved front gardens. The societal value of gardens will also be evaluated by gathering information on the extent to which gardening encourages communication and engagement between garden owners, neighbours and passers-by. Here’s a video about the creation of the ‘kitchen garden out front’ in Quebec, Canada.

Part of the RHS campaign ‘Greening Grey Britain’, the new research will seek evidence to make the case for gardening to local and national government, supporting what many of us instinctively know- that green spaces have positive impacts on health and well-being.

On a similar theme, the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show this year will feature four front gardens designed and created by winners of a new competition being hosted by the RHS and BBC Local Radio to design a front garden.

Anyone can enter a ‘feel-good garden, celebrating the health benefits of gardening and taking inspiration from where they live.’

See here for more information and how to enter.

Source: RHS ‘The Garden’ Magazine, February 2016

Old School Gardener

birdbath%20trio.jpg-550x0Birds will splash vigorously in an expensive ornamental birdbath – but just as readily in an upturned old dustbin lid. Prop it in place with bricks to ensure it is stable and put some gravel in the bottom to give the birds something to grip underfoot. change the water every few days and in the winter be sure to break any ice which forms. Give the lid a brisk scrub occasionally to keep it clear of algae.

Source: ‘Good Ideas for your Garden’- Reader’s Digest 1995

Old School Gardener

Potted_bulbsMore and more garden plants are available from garden centres in flower. If bought in bud, potted bulbs, such as dwarf daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and tulips, allow you to instantly transform an otherwise dull border into a colourful, early spring centrepiece. This is particularly useful for adding colour to prominent beds near to the house.

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest 1999

Old School Gardener

PIC00103Moving to a new house with a garden that needs whipping into shape? Need help with an idea for improving part of your established garden? Or maybe you want to completely overhaul your current plot and need a masterplan for achieving your ideas over a number of years?

If you live in the Norfolk area and want to develop your ideas and design skills, in the company of like-minded people, I might be able to help.

I’ve been running a series of short courses to inform, inspire and improve the design skills of gardeners for some years, and I’m planning to kick off the next one in a few weeks time.

I’ve taken the opportunity of a new venue to review the content and programme of the course, also building on the positive feedback I’ve had from previous participants. I’m thrilled to be able to offer a course that’s based at the wonderful Blickling Hall Estate near Aylsham, and hope to take full advantage of it’s fantastic gardens to illustrate and reinforce some key ideas.

WP_20150716_12_09_50_ProAnd as well as visits to the gardens I’ll be using a combination of presentation, group discussion, one-to-one support, handouts, books to borrow and links to further information. You won’t need any special knowledge or skills in garden design or gardening; just the germ of an idea or plan for your garden, or maybe just a general interest in finding out more about garden design.

Venue: The Old School, Blickling Estate, near Aylsham, Norfolk

Times and dates: 10am -12 noon Tuesdays from 2nd February – 22nd March inclusive (excluding 16th February)

Cost: £70 (including refreshments)

For an outline of the Programme take a look here. If you want to find out more about me then take a look at the Page ‘About Me’ on this blog. If you’d like to discuss the course, how it might meet your needs or want to register, please call me on 01603 754250, or leave me a message via the contact form below.

alliums and laburnumI want participants to have the space, time and attention to address their individual needs, so places will be limited; if you’re interested, please get in touch soon!

Old School Gardener (Nigel Boldero)

Council homes, Stow Road, Ixworth

‘They called them ‘Thingoe’s Follies’ – the eight homes built on Stow Road in Ixworth, Suffolk, which formed the first council housing built (in 1894) in the English countryside. And so they were if the attempt to provide decent homes for some of the poorest in England – the agricultural working class of the day – was folly……’ read more at….

Source: Stow Road, Ixworth: ‘Thingoe’s Follies’

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