Australian ‘back yard’ garden tips

by Jane on January 15, 2020

Here’s an article from the ‘Houzz’ website on Australian gardening – with a photo from one of my designs in it, from Towcester in the UK! I enjoy looking at gardens from a different culture – The Australians always have a shaded space next to the house as the sun gets so hot. They practically live in this area and in the outdoors, so their gardens seem more expansive and relaxed than ours..

NB: Click the lettering in green to go to the article.


Summer 2019 Open Gardens

by Jane on October 18, 2019

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog and I have some varied visits to blog about – the first ones in June. My village, Wappenham in south Northamptonshire, once again opened its gardens for the National Garden Scheme, and there were all sorts of gardens to see. I didn’t get round all of them so my apologies to those I missed out, such as Hilary and John’s lovely garden full of flowers and fruit. Please note that the weather was very wet so imagine how it would all look when the sun came out…

The first garden was at the end of my road and was originally designed by James Alexander Sinclair. It was great to have a closer look, as it has three interesting areas joined together in quite a small space. Here is the entrance path:

Wiggly stone path lined with green planting

This runs past the front door on the left, to a swimming pool area set in the old barnyard.

This pool is very sheltered as it is surrounded by buildings on three sides, and a hedge and gate on the fourth. Near the gate is a nice raised pond, with yellow phormiums behind:

The swimming pool is to the right. Meanwhile, in the foreground of this raised pond, is the house terrace, leading to the back garden. James has arranged ‘exploding squares’ here, beds set at angles to lead you through to the back garden:

Square flower beds in gravel

The two men above are looking at the back lawn, ingeniously filled with topiary. Here is the view from the bottom of the lawn back to the house.

Stone house, hedges and topiary knot garden and lawn in front

I haven’t included the veg garden or the hen house which has its own hedged area, but it was very stimulating to see something different.

Dodging rain showers, I called in at Beeches Farm, at which it was too rainy to take many photos, and Wappenham Manor, which has opened and been blogged about before. Here are some photos of the Manor, another James Alexander Sinclair garden.

Wappenham Manor drivewasy
Large lawn, herbaceous borders and a cedar of Lebanon - classic English style
Sweeping lawn, a large cedar tree, and a herbaceous border – classic English country garden
Stone steps and cascading flowers
Stone steps edged with cascading plants
The plants by the steps in more detail, mauves whites and pinks
The plants by the steps in closeup – white and pink geraniums and purple salvias
Pleached trees line a shady path between vegetable beds
Pleached trees line a shady path between vegetable beds

Lastly I visited a garden made by the owners and full of interesting ideas. The entrance is lined with pots of white pelargoniums and some azaleas in flower:

Stone paved path to red front door with pots of white pelargoniums

Then leading round to the right, you pass a lovely deep red climbing rose:

Red climbing rose up stone house wall

Then through the arch and uphill to the rest of the garden:

Wooden arch with roses, lawn and topiary in the background

Then to the right of all this, there is another garden, on the garage roof. Now a bit late to see it as it is full of azaleas, but still, the view was worth going up the steps for.

Pots of plants on garage roof
Garden on roof looking into rest of garden

The rest of the garden is shaded by tall trees, with roses, and is lined with beds with displays such as these hostas in pots, under the fragrant philadelphus.

Pots of hostas under flowering philadelphus

At the back of this garden is a hedgehog nest – note the sign!

Sign on hedge asking people to be quiet as hedgehogs were resting

Lastly, a pic of the ‘natural’ part of my own garden: lilacs, peonies and the meadow patch. The veg garden is yet to spring to life.

Red peonies, long grass and a white bench behind them in front of lilacs


Small garden ideas from Chelsea by Houzz

June 17, 2019

I thought this post from the home and gardens website ‘Houzz’ was worth including:

Read the full article →

How to make a compost heap and why

May 17, 2019

Now is the time to weed and tidy up in the garden, before the weeds get too big.  Composting is the easy way to get rid of the resulting piles of unwanted greenery.  If you haven’t done it before, here is the low-down. Why compost? You get a fabulous soil conditioner to help make your […]

Read the full article →

Building A Bee-autiful Garden

March 12, 2019

Here is a guest post from author and garden designer Karoline Gore, in time for the planting season. Building your own garden is one of the most soothing and enjoyable activities you can do, but why not make it beneficial for wildlife too? Bees account for ?400 million of the U.K. economy through pollination alone. Bees are […]

Read the full article →

A winter scent corner

February 1, 2019

Many of the shrubs that flower in winter and early spring have strongly-scented flowers, so they can attract any lone bee that is out there this time of year. And their scent also draws me outside to appreciate these hardy plants. I’ve planted 3 winter-flowering shrubs together near the house, together with a seat, so […]

Read the full article →

A visit to Tom Stuart Smith’s garden

October 17, 2018

In the hot days of summer, I was lucky enough to be one of 35 garden designers spending the day with Tom Stuart Smith. As a garden designer Tom has Chelsea Gold medals and Best in Show for his designs. The event was organised by Gillian Goodson in aid of Horatio’s Garden, which creates and […]

Read the full article →

Vibrant Australian Garden

May 18, 2018
Thumbnail image for Vibrant Australian Garden

For any faithful followers of my blog, sorry to be away so long – I have been busy working and travelling.  I’ve just visited a great botanic garden with a fresh modern design: the ‘Australian Garden’ of the Royal Victoria Botanic Gardens, near Melbourne, Australia.  The garden manages to display plants in meaningful groups – […]

Read the full article →

Shrubs for a low-maintenance family garden

January 9, 2018

People often consider shrubs as slightly dull background plants, but they can be a lot more exciting than this, and very useful too. They are generally easy to care for; they give structure and substance to a garden, and they provide colour through the year.  I’ve just completed a planting plan for a family garden, […]

Read the full article →

Yeo Valley gravel garden – a little-known gem

September 27, 2017
Thumbnail image for Yeo Valley gravel garden – a little-known gem

Yeo Valley, the company that produces organic dairy products, has a gravel garden and organic cafe in the countryside south of Bristol.  It’s a beautiful, open area near Blagdon Lake. It’s only open Thursdays and Fridays from 29th April to Sept 30th – but it’s worth diarising a visit.  It’s £5 entry.  A few plants […]

Read the full article →