The Garden in Winter

“O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth.”
–  John Davies, 1570-1626,  Ode to the West Wind

The garden in winter can seem to be a bit of a quiet place with not much appearing to be  going on, but with a little forethought and careful planning it can become quite busy.

Winter flowering shrubs such as Winter Jasmine and Mahonia Japonica provide seasonal blooms, Daphne mezereum Rubrum is particularly fragrant. The evergreen leaves of Viburnum Tinus and Ilex aquifolium Golden van Tol provide some structure along with the vivid orange red berries found on Pyracantha hybrida Mohave or even the bright turquoise blue berries found on Viburnum Davidii. Colourful stems may be found on Dogwoods such as Cornus Alba Sibirica Westonbirt and Willows such as Salix Alba vitellina, both of which may be cut back to create fresh shoots in the spring.

Hardy Cyclamen are early bloomers and Snowdrops will soon be making their presence known. In milder areas early Daffodils such as February Gold are harbingers of the approaching spring , whilst in the herbaceous border the Christmas Rose Helleborus Niger is an early flowerer.

A good starting point is to observe your garden on a reasonably bright winter’s day, walk around it and see if the general structure or any vistas may be improved, don’t forget to take into account what may be seen from indoors as well.

Do not be afraid to replace ailing plants or those that have become too vigorous and any that have otherwise disappointed you. Look out for carelessly discarded litter and items such as garden furniture that have decayed past the point of usefulness and now just look plain ugly. It is all too easy to overlook these sort of things and spoil the appearance of an otherwise beautiful garden.

Make an action plan for what you are seeking to achieve in your garden, it can be very useful to record you observations in a notebook for future reference, especially if you intend to spread your improvements over several seasons. When this is done you will be best placed to proceed to putting your plans into action.
By Tim Brayford

Please visit our Tim Brayford Landscapes website or contact us by email or phone 07890 869918 to discuss how we can assist you with your landscape garden project.


The Garden in Spring

The Garden in Spring

“And so befel, whan comen was the tyme
Of Aperil, whan clothed is the mede
With newe grene, of lusty Ver the pryme,
And swote smellen floures whyte and rede,
In sondry wyses shewed, as I rede,
The folk of Troye his observances olde,
Palladiones feste for to holde.
Geoffrey Chaucer

The lighter and warmer days of Spring is when the garden really seems to burst into life. As early flowering bulbs such as Snowdrops begin to fade they will soon be superseded by Daffodils, Narcissus, Bluebells and Tulips, to name but a few.

As the ground begins to warm and dry it is the ideal time to plant container grown trees, shrubs and herbaceous, the task will be made all the easier if much of the preparatory work has already been done in the preceding Autumn and Winter.

At this time some may be tempted to plant bare rooted specimens but late plantings of these often result in a failure to thrive and it may be better to wait for the dormant season to return again towards the end of the year.

Around Easter time many people will venture out to a garden centre and stock up with whatever happens to be in bloom, shrubs such as Flowering Currant, Forsythia and Pieris seem to be particular favourites along with herbaceous like Aquilegia, Dicentra and Epimedium.

The results of this may be seen for years to come when their gardens produce a brilliant floral display for a few weeks in the Spring and regrettably little else during the rest of the year. If prior consideration is given to drawing up a more balanced planting plan that spreads the flowering season then this hazard may be avoided altogether.

Now is the time to turn your attention to the lawn. Take a light cut as soon as conditions are favourable, a dry day is best, with your mower on its highest setting. Rake up fallen leaves and spilled clippings removing moss with a spring-tined rake as necessary. Brush away worm casts and lightly roll. As the weather continues to warm up apply a combined weed and feed treatment. If any areas appear to be a bit thin scatter some good quality lawn seed and consider new turf for larger patches of bare lawn.
By Tim Brayford

Please contact Tim Brayford Landscapes by email or phone 07890 869918 to discuss how we can assist you with your landscape garden project

The Garden in Summer

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“That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
And the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Summer is the time that all the hard work and planning of earlier seasons comes to fruition.

The long days and balmy evenings will see the traditional English country and cottage gardens at their best, with earlier flowerings of Poppies, Delphiniums, Peonies and Aquilegias to be followed by Hostas, Japanese Anemonies, Rudbeckias and Heleniums to name but a few.

Cutting down the stems of early plants such as Lupins may lead to a second blooming in late summer and dead heading repeat flowering roses such as the fragrant “Claire Austin” is beneficial.
The fresher air in the evening is perhaps the best time to enjoy sweetly scented Honeysuckles and Nicotianas

Bright and colourful summer bedding like Geraniums and Busy Lizzies can highlight decorative tubs whilst Petunias and Nemesias may be found in hanging baskets. Keeping a few Begonias to hand in pots can be a useful way of plugging any gaps that may appear in herbaceous borders until a more permanent solution can be found in the autumn.

Watering may become necessary during a prolonged dry spell, a thick organic mulch will help to retain moisture and if seed free deter weeds from germinating. If the lawn starts to turn brown raise the cutting height of your mower and cut less frequently.

Watering is best done at night when evaporation is less and there is little risk of scorching or better still install some sub-surface irrigation.

Do not be afraid of pruning back plants that are starting to obstruct paths or gateways and do make a note of any possible changes or improvements for future reference.

By Tim Brayford

Please visit our Tim Brayford Landscapes website or contact us by email or phone 07890 869918 to discuss how we can assist you with your landscape garden project.