The Lovely Garden Blog

Are you sitting comfortably?

Posted on 04/04/11, filed under Latest News | No Comments

garden_chair When we create our homes, we have various rooms with places to sit; sometimes to relax, and sometimes to sit upright and eat. I think that the garden should provide the same kind of seating arrangements. Gardens should have tables and chairs – a place to have breakfast and read the weekend papers, preferably not in a windy spot and with some shade so you don’t get engrossed in the SuDoku and find you’ve burnt the back of your neck in the sun. The garden should always have an enticing place for a snooze. This needs a more laid back, squidgy kind of chair. I love these Adirondack chairs and a recent client tells me they’re incredibly comfortable too. The snooze chair should have cushions and a throw, in case it gets a bit chilly. A table beside you for tea and magazines means you won’t have to try and balance your cup on the lawn. Gardens should be such practical things. I’m always amazed that people use their gardens as such receptacles for rubbish and don’t keep them looking wonderful. How can you wash the kitchen floor and then put the mop outside the back door? You wouldn’t go and put your mop in the middle of the sitting room! Treat your garden with love and respect. Create lovely little areas for seating, eating, reading and snoozing and this summer it will be better than home.

Hard hats at the ready

Posted on 24/03/11, filed under Current Projects, Latest News | No Comments

builderI have just started work on the plans and design for a wonderful job. It’s in Tooting and the client has bought this gorgeous house – well, it WILL be gorgeous – overlooking the green with mature trees all around with tree preservation orders in abundi. It should be fun working with all of these in the way! The house was formerly a mental establishment and built in 1914. It’s been owned by the NHS and subsequently no money has been spent on it for years. This is SUCH a blessing, as all the interior details are intact. There was no money to rip out ceilings or fireplaces and there they are today, absolutely gorgeous. There are little built in wooden seats in odd nooks and crannies, huge wooden fireplaces with mouldings and the ceilings are to die for…. The staircase and hallway had been blocked up with horrible landings and stud walls divided the space. I have no idea why. Now those walls are down, and you can see the full grandeur of the hallway. The brickwork has gorgeous little mouldings and designs, the windows are stained glass and the chimmneys are works of art. I suppose I should talk about the garden, but of course this is the area that has also been neglected, and not to the good of the property. I’ve got lots of ideas and plans and the client is going to do things properly, which is a joy to a designer, architect and builders. At the moment, I don’t know where to start but we’ll get the professional surveyor on site next week and get every single one of those protected trees plotted and get going. Onwards and upwards and never a dull moment in this job. I love it.

Shady characters

Posted on 21/03/11, filed under Plant passions | No Comments

dicentraI never liked shady borders. In the past, I lived near the sea, with south facing sunny planting places and grew plants that thrived in the sunshine. Then I moved ‘over the Downs’ and discovered frost, car scrapers and dead Echiums. The treasures I brought from my seaside garden withered and died in the first winter and the heavy clay soil wouldn’t let me work in the garden for weeks on end. Huge trees in my new front garden took all my light and moisture and only ivy crept across the ground, mocking my inability to repeat my glorious borders. But now – haha – I have conquered the dry soil and trees and lack of light and moisture and nutrients. I’ve discovered plants that I love and will thrive in the new places I have created for them. The trick to the soil was bags and bags of horse manure. I still have it delivered in huge quantities each autumn. This has enriched the soil and added moisture where my plants are competing with the trees. I struggled with plants like bergenias, which I’d always derided, but after discovering ‘silberlicht’ and Bressingham White’, I was won over. The leaves give me structure in the winter and now the flowers have come along too. Dicentra spectabilis ‘alba’ is one of my favourite shade lovers. Don’t buy the pink one. It’s like a horrible pink lipstick colour that makes you look washed out. The white is much more elegant. The lovely thing about white plants is that they glow in the shade and add another depth and dimension to the gloom. My other favourite white shade plants are lamium, white helleborus – Potters Wheel, the tiny cornus canadensis and pachysandra terminalis. These look wonderful grouped around box balls and polystichum, the evergreen ferns. Add some white muscari hyacinths and some larger white hyacinths too and the border starts to become one of my favourites in the garden.