Bold planting in Berkhamsted

‘Le patron mange ici‘ – this is my own recently-acquired garden in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. At around 100 sq m it is a typical size plot for a British town garden, and has excellent views across the Chilterns that I was keen to enhance.

The layout we inherited was also typical, with a narrow border with evergreens and some perennials snaking around the perimeter. I was looking for a design that could be implemented quickly, without recourse to substantial amounts of hard landscaping.

I took the decision to divide the garden informally into three, with a wide terrace by the house and a simply-planted end of the garden preserving the views over distant hills, with movement between the two between densely planted borders. These borders boldly fill the width of the garden, with the depth of them allowing a richness of planting that is not possible in a narrow border.

A gauze-like planting midway delicately divides the small space into two ‘rooms’, giving a greater sense of movement and space within the garden, whilst allowing views through the planting.

Bold late summer planting

Bold late summer planting

Setting out

Borders were made as large as possible within this small Berkhamsted garden

Planting in progress

Planting is a mixture of small trees (here a mulberry and pineapple broom) , bulbs and perennials

Planting complete

The plants made quick progress in April, enabling us to catch up with construction of the oak-edged path

First flowers

Two months after planting, the first flowers emerge - Gladiolus byzantinus and peonies.

First midsummer

The perennials are knitting together by midsummer. In the background, box balls and a cordon of apples will preserve the view over distant hills

Dahlia 'Rip City'

Dahlias, salvia and solanum extend the flowering season into autumn

Granite and gravel path

In keeping with the style of the house, the path is a simple arts and crafts design of granite setts and gravel, within green oak boards

Harmonious planting

Moving towards the far end of the garden, the planting becomes more harmonious in paler hues, giving an impression of greater space

Bold late summer plantingBorders were made as large as possible within this small Berkhamsted gardenPlanting is a mixture of small trees (here a mulberry and pineapple broom) , bulbs and perennialsThe plants made quick progress in April, enabling us to catch up with construction of the oak-edged pathTwo months after planting, the first flowers emerge - Gladiolus byzantinus and peonies.The perennials are knitting together by midsummer. In the background, box balls and a cordon of apples will preserve the view over distant hillsDahlias, salvia and solanum extend the flowering season into autumnIn keeping with the style of the house, the path is a simple arts and crafts design of granite setts and gravel, within green oak boardsMoving towards the far end of the garden, the planting becomes more harmonious in paler hues, giving an impression of greater space

Flowers and fruit in a Leicestershire village garden

With a future sale of this Leicestershire village house in mind, I was asked to improve the garden, working to a budget and with reasonable maintenance requirements in mind.

The site is steeply sloping, and had been terraced when the house was built. The lower terrace was dominated by a Leylandii hedge, grown fat with age. When this hedge was removed, the two terraces immediately came into balance, and the addition of quality trees and espalier fruit trees on the terrace wall make this an attractive and valued part of the garden. The Leylandii hedge was replaced with one of bare-root yew, which is quickly knitting together and gaining height as a new backdrop to the garden.

The borders were replanted with a selection of plants that can cope with the rather dry site, mixing foliage and flower in a long-lasting tapestry that does not impose heavy maintenance requirements on a busy family.

Dry planting to replace a lawn

Part of a makeover of a village garden, this planting for poor dry soil replaced scrappy turf between two driveways

Plants for a dry border in full sun

Plants for a dry border in full sun

Sedum 'Matrona' in a dry border

Sedum 'Matrona' in a dry border

Espalier fruit trees

Apple and pear trees were introduced to be trained as espaliers on the terrace wall

Shady site

Suitable planting was introduced for the shady front of the house

Varied planting to replace turf

A small area of turf was replanted with a low planting of small greys with accent plants

Gladiolus papilio

Bulbs are used throughout, from species tulip to Gladiolus papilio, here

Late summer planting

Attention was paid to foliage types, colours and shapes

Sedum and Caryopteris

The season extends into late summer, here with sedum and caryopteris

Terrace borders

The terrace borders have grown well in a short time in the rich soil

Part of a makeover of a village garden, this planting for poor dry soil replaced scrappy turf between two drivewaysPlants for a dry border in full sunSedum 'Matrona' in a dry borderApple and pear trees were introduced to be trained as espaliers on the terrace wallSuitable planting was introduced for the shady front of the houseA small area of turf was replanted with a low planting of small greys with accent plantsBulbs are used throughout, from species tulip to Gladiolus papilio, hereAttention was paid to foliage types, colours and shapesThe season extends into late summer, here with sedum and caryopterisThe terrace borders have grown well in a short time in the rich soil

Editing a mature country house garden

The new owners of this mature country garden asked me to ‘edit’ it so it gives interest through the year, whilst taking into account the limited maintenance time it would receive.

Overgrown trees and shrubs were pruned, and removed where necessary, with a number of high-performing replacements added to ensure interest through all seasons.

A row of fastigiate oaks introduced a formal rhythmic link – though in an informal style – between the garden and paddocks, with the area between barn and stables being given a new, informal planting with limes, roses and cotinus.

Formal borders were largely swept away, with a carefully composed planting of bulbs, peonies, roses, Stipa and Viburnum ‘Lanarth’ forming a gentle visual bridge between the garden and with wide landscape of fields beyond.

Detailed planting was restricted to the area in the immediate vicinity of the house and terrace, with Fuchisa, Caryopteris and Ceratostigma following on from Euphorbia, Carpenteria and Gladiolus byzantinus.

Family garden in a walled Islington courtyard

Busy professional lives had led this Islington courtyard to become gradually overgrown, to the extent it was no longer a pleasure to its owners. The challenge was to make it into an attractive an outdoor room for a young family – whilst contaminated ground issues meant that the existing raised beds had to stay.

I was conscious that the whole environment could feel rather brick-dominated so, once cleared, the high walls were painted a stone colour, and two small trees were pruned and retained, giving a feel of maturity and movement of light and shade to the garden.

Two of the raised beds were clad in green oak, with seating incorporated, with the wood softening the overall effect and introducing an excellent foil for the varied planting.

Tender shrubs in a central London courtyard

Tender shrubs in a central London courtyard

Overgrown

This walled courtyard in Islington had become overgrown, and had lost its attractiveness as a place to relax

Garden clearance

Once the growth had been cleared, the walls could be painted a colour that would enhance plants grown up them

Green oak cladding

The raised beds had to stay, but some were clad in green oak, a sympathetic material for the new planting, to give contrast to the dominant brick

Magnolia soulangeana

The magnolia and crab apple were retained to give scale to the planting and to cast shadows in the revived family space

Semi-tender planting in London

Benches were incorporated in the oak clad beds, and were surrounded by soft 'cushionesque' planting

Sollya heterophylla

Walls give a priceless opportunity for planting choice climbers, here Sollya heterophylla

Solanum rantonetti

Solanum rantonetti is another wall plant chosen for the mild microclimate that gives a long season of interest, without getting over-large

A shaded bed

The end of the garden is in shade, leading to a different selection of plants

Oak-clad raised bed

Oak cladding has transformed what was a rather small raised bed

Tender shrubs in a central London courtyardThis walled courtyard in Islington had become overgrown, and had lost its attractiveness as a place to relaxOnce the growth had been cleared, the walls could be painted a colour that would enhance plants grown up themThe raised beds had to stay, but some were clad in green oak, a sympathetic material for the new planting, to give contrast to the dominant brickThe magnolia and crab apple were retained to give scale to the planting and to cast shadows in the revived family spaceBenches were incorporated in the oak clad beds, and were surrounded by soft 'cushionesque' plantingWalls give a priceless opportunity for planting choice climbers, here Sollya heterophyllaSolanum rantonetti is another wall plant chosen for the mild microclimate that gives a long season of interest, without getting over-largeThe end of the garden is in shade, leading to a different selection of plantsOak cladding has transformed what was a rather small raised bed

Replanting within an existing design

I was asked to replant certain areas within this magnificent Oxfordshire garden, which had been created by its new owners over the previous five years.

The wide borders by the terrace are in pole position outside the kitchen and conservatory, but the lavender interplanted between balls of box had largely died out.

I introduced a varied planting, with a good number of unusual plants, to give a long season of interest with accents of colour and form within a harmonious whole.

In larger borders deeper in the garden, I took to opportunity to move many maturing shrubs, creating vistas and making new plant associations. Introducing a number of star performers ensures a display through a long season.

A screening planting of willows was removed and replaced with a subtle planting of evergreens such as Hoheria, arbutus, Eucryphia and Daphne, with staggered planting to screen the house without over dominating the planting of the border.

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia cacaliifolia is one of a number of long-flowering accent plants in this replanting of terrace borders

Terrace before replanting

An intial planting of lavender between box balls had died out, leaving these large, prominent borders underperforming

Six months after replanting

A wide range of plants were used as replacements, with a mixed ecology guarding against future problems

Terrace view

There is a unifying theme of grey foliage, set off by crisp box

Accent plants

A range of accent plants provide interest through the year, here in October

Replanting within a shrubbery

The large shrubbery had many plants moved within it, and high performing plants inserted to up its flower power

Salvia cacaliifolia is one of a number of long-flowering accent plants in this replanting of terrace bordersAn intial planting of lavender between box balls had died out, leaving these large, prominent borders underperformingA wide range of plants were used as replacements, with a mixed ecology guarding against future problemsThere is a unifying theme of grey foliage, set off by crisp boxA range of accent plants provide interest through the year, here in OctoberThe large shrubbery had many plants moved within it, and high performing plants inserted to up its flower power

Majorelle blue in Central London

Compact and, when I encountered it, overgrown with lavish swags of passion-flower-gone-native, the brief for this Central London courtyard garden was to incorporate Majorelle Blue from the famous garden in Marrakech.

Amazingly, Majorelle Blue paint is not commercially available and a bespoke solution was required. What emerged was a sophisticated entertaining space with carefully chosen low-maintenance planting and an automated watering system. A substantial Cercidiphyllum japonicum - the Katsura tree from Japan – transformed the space, introducing the rustle of leaves and keeping the city at bay, whilst a low-voltage LED lighting system has made the garden a venue for year-round entertaining.

 

Majorelle blue

The brief was for Majorelle blue in this London courtyard.

Before the job started

Passion flower had run amok

Work in progress

Cleared of undergrowth, the garden is ready for new fence and trellis. The wall will be rendered and painted - you can see the sample colour on the right.

Fence and wall renewed

The major works completed, colour and plants are needed to make a garden.

Side return

A careful choice of plants is needed in the side return to bring greenery into the space without growing wild.

Plants delivered

With the fence stained blue, the plants are delivered. Trachelospermum - already large, for instant impact - and Actinidia have been chosen for this section.

Majorelle blue wall

The wall has been painted Majorelle blue - a bespoke solution - and appropriate plants chosen for the narrow border in front. Vines climb up tensioned wire ropes that carry overhead.

Low voltage lighting added

The space will mostly be used for entertaining in the evenings. Low voltage uplights and downlights have been installed.

Semi mature tree installed

The view up the side return once a semi mature tree has been planted. This transformed the garden, adding shadows and the rustle of leaves, as well as masking surrounding buildings.

The brief was for Majorelle blue in this London courtyard.Passion flower had run amokCleared of undergrowth, the garden is ready for new fence and trellis. The wall will be rendered and painted  - you can see the sample colour on the right.The major works completed, colour and plants are needed to make a garden.A careful choice of plants is needed in the side return to bring greenery into the space without growing wild.With the fence stained blue, the plants are delivered. Trachelospermum  - already large, for instant impact - and Actinidia have been chosen for this section.The wall has been painted Majorelle blue - a bespoke solution - and appropriate plants chosen for the narrow border in front. Vines climb up tensioned wire ropes that carry overhead.The space will mostly be used for entertaining in the evenings. Low voltage uplights and downlights have been installed.The view up the side return once a semi mature tree has been planted. This transformed the garden, adding shadows and the rustle of leaves, as well as masking surrounding buildings.