Gardens and Deer by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Gardens And Deer

One of the joys of a well laid out garden is that it will attract wildlife, and if you are very lucky you will occasionally be visited by wild deer. However, you can have too much of a good thing so here’s some suggestions of what you can do to ensure that you can enjoy both the deer and your garden.

There are six species of wild deer in the UK varying both in size and habits, one of the smallest, the Chinese Water Deer, is of a very localised distribution and is usually found on open arable land or in reed beds, it is the one least likely to be seen in a garden. Of the others the largest herding species, Red, Sika and Fallow are most often found in the more rural areas and are less likely to be found in a suburban garden although they do occasionally turn up in unusual places. The smaller native Roe and the alien Muntjac are the two most likely to be found in a garden.

Roe deer are sometimes seen in gardens

So how do you know that the deer are present? They are mostly dawn or dusk feeders, Muntjac can feed through the night and you may see chewed off plants and not know quite who the culprit is. Neatly bitten off stems similar to a cut from a sharp secateurs is indicative of a rodent attack, squirrels, rabbits or hares. If the stem is cut on to one side and torn off the other this is more typical of deer.

So what can you do to prevent this damage?

Planting things that deer don’t like to eat can be helpful such as Camellia, Rhododendron or Hydrangea, the RHS produces a comprehensive list of suitable plants.

Camellias are unattractive to deer

Tree guards and shelters are a wise precaution, particularly with new plantings. These will protect against both small and large herbivores, and to some extent carelessly used strimmers!

Fencing off the most vulnerable areas such as vegetable, fruit and roses gardens may be necessary, especially in areas where there are high numbers of deer. Stock fencing up to 6’/1.8m high is ideal, reinforced with 3”/75mm squared netting if Muntjac are present. Make sure the bottom wire is well secured to the ground as deer are known to push up under such fencing. A strand of the highly visible electric fencing tape used to contain horses on the outside of the fence can also be useful. Avoid using double strands of barbed on top of stock netting, deer are prone to getting caught up in this and suffer painful fatal injuries.

Repellents such as lion dung, ultrasonic screeching devices and flashing lights have all been mooted as deer deterrents but in reality their effect is short lived and the deer soon learn to ignore them. Greater details about deer in gardens are available on the BDS website

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and we are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Pond Life by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

 

A successful garden will  contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life.  It may play host to a broad range of flora and fauna enhancing local biodiversity and collectively benefiting the wider world environment by absorbing CO2. Here are just a few examples from gardens on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 

Pond Life

www.timbrayford.co.uk Damsel Flies (2)

Damsel flies

www.timbrayford.co.uk marsh marigold & bee

Marsh Marigold and Bee

Yellow Flag Iris

A small wildlife pond

Dragonfly

jersey butterfly

A Jersey Tiger butterfly feeds on a pond side plant

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Fish fry in a healthy pond

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A pair of wild ducks

www.timbrayford.co.uk Toad 27.7.16 (2)

A Common Toad

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and we are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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The Wilder look by Isle of Wight Garden Designer Tim Brayford

The Wilder Look 

A successful garden will  contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life.  It may play host to a broad range of flora and fauna enhancing local biodiversity and collectively benefiting the wider world environment by absorbing CO2. Here are just a few examples from gardens on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 

Meadow Cranesbill

A stumpery

Spindle berries

Midsummer meadow flowers

Woodland and Bluebells

Leave some wood to decay for fungus to grow on

Yellow rattle is an essential plant in a wildflower meadow

Damselflies are attracted to pond side plants

Fritillaria naturalised into a boggy pond margin

Wild Cowslip

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Tim Brayford’s Isle of Wight Gardens 2

A successful garden will  contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life.  It may play host to a broad range of flora and fauna enhancing local biodiversity and collectively benefiting the wider world environment by absorbing CO2. Here are just a few examples from gardens on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 

A shady path leads to a focal point

Hellebores provide some early spring colour

Snowdrops can be moved in the spring after flowering or as bulbs in the autumnA decorative frog waterspout helps to oxygenate this lovely garden pool

Free-range chicken help to gobble up all manner of garden bugs.

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

The Wildlife Pond by Isle of Wight Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Yellow Flag Iris

The trouble with having a wildlife pond is that I supposedly ‘waste’ a great deal of time watching it. It is the most fascinating habitat in the whole garden. I have had mine for some years now and the first inhabitants, pond skaters, arrived within an hour of it filling up. Since then we have had Damsel flies, Dragon flies, Water Boatmen and lots of other unidentified little bugs that skitter and wriggle about in its depths.  That’s the thing about ponds, if you get it right you don’t have to stock it, it stocks itself.

A newly arrived dragonfly assesses the pond

So what makes a good wildlife pond? Firstly it must be deep enough in the middle for creatures to overwinter successfully, mine is about three feet deep with a shallower shelf around the edge. I used a butyl liner with the correct padding underneath, it pays to get this bit right as a hole in the liner is an expensive mistake to rectify. The edges have a gentle slope and because mine abuts the lawn I laid turf over the edge to hide the liner. I then did something that a lot of gardeners would hold their hands up in horror at, I chucked some clay soil (devoid of stones) into the bottom. Well, those newts have to have something to hide in, don’t they?

Bees are attracted to wildlife ponds

Be choosy about the plants you want to have in your pond. I chose native plants as far as possible, although I did succumb to a small, white waterlily . My favourites are Watermint, Brooklime and Water Forget-me-not. Avoid really rampant growers such as the Bull rush and Canadian Pondweed in your pond as these will soon choke it. I made use of the wet clay soil behind my pond to plant yellow Iris as well as Purple Loosestrife and Meadowsweet. I planted the pond lily in a pot but everything else I anchored under the turf edge or weighed them down in bunches on the shallow shelf to do their own thing.

You can get as artistic as you like with decorating the outer edges to attract residents and visitors. I chose a couple of semi-rotten large branches to drape over the back edge and dip right into the water and these have been a great hit with all types of birds as bathing and drinking perches. Insects love the flowering plants around the outside and in winter finches feast on the seed heads.

Damsel flies are attracted to the wildlife pond

My pond is never going to be the tidiest and, yes, I do get some duckweed and blanketweed (a revelation in itself when you see what takes up residence in it) but it most certainly is one of the busiest.

And don’t forget that essential item a Garden Seat!

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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A Residential Care Home on the Isle of Wight by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Colourful raised beds

A Residential Care Home on the Isle of Wight

As part of a major refurbishment we were called in to upgrade the gardens at one of the island’s most prestigious nursing homes. We had worked for the same client before at another of their establishments and we were looking forward to working with them again.

The building had been doubled in size and featured a sunny inner courtyard accessible to the residents, raised beds were constructed within it which enabled them to gain the full benefit of the flowering, scented plants that featured in our carefully considered scheme. In such locations it is vital realise that elderly people can sometimes get confused and attempt to eat things that are not good for them so avoiding spiky or poisonous leaves and berries was essential.

Fragrant French Lavender

Outside was some mature woodland which we extended with new native trees and a grassy slope leading down to the sea, located within an Area of Outstanding Beauty, this too presented some challenges. The soil was a very heavy clay that had to be improved with large amounts of compost. Again we had to be mindful of the need to provide a safe environment for the residents whilst providing as much scent and colour from the plants that we used as possible . Decorative bark mulches were spread around the planting to help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth, thus reducing future maintenance requirements

Newly extended native woodland

Ground conditions were yet another challenge as with the onset of autumn rains it would become unworkable. We had to even out the slope to a more shallow grade, easier for those who needed the help of a stick or frame to walk on and separate areas of this had to be both seeded and turfed whilst we were still able to do so.

The owner of this prestigious establishment said:- “ Tim Brayford has done a great job bringing the gardens up to the high standard of our care home”

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Spring Flowers by National Award Winning Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Spring Flowers 

A successful garden will  contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life.  It may play host to a broad range of flora and fauna enhancing local biodiversity and collectively benefiting the wider world environment by absorbing CO2. Here are just a few examples from gardens on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 

Marsh Marigold and Bee

Snowdrops

Tulips and Bluebells

Narcissus and Lunaria flowers

Cowslips

Daffodils

Camellia

Flowering Currant and Bee

Chaenomeles

Early Cherry Blossom

A late spring assemblage of blooms

Woodland and Bluebells

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Chemical Free Weed Control by Isle of Wight Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Periwinkles are a popular ground covering plant

Chemical Free Weed Control

Geotextile membranes were one of the great gardening innovations of the 20th century promoted as a chemical free low maintenance weed control solution, used in conjunction with decorative mulches such as bark flakes or gravel.

Generally unsuitable for use in an herbaceous border or where bulbs are planted membranes are primarily found for separation of gravel surfaces from the underlying soil and within mass plantings of shrubs and trees.

In the short term geotextiles can be highly effective at providing a low cost/low maintenance option for these areas but it would be a mistake to believe that they are maintenance free. Typically the kind of issues that may arise are birds disturbing decorative bark mulches thus exposing the underlying fabric and the effect of strong gusts of wind actually lifting the fabric away from where it has been placed.

Geotextiles are popularly used for weed control

This is far less of an issue where gravel mulches have been used but other problems can arise. Despite claims to the contrary by the manufacturers in our experience these membranes impede the exchange of air within the soil resulting in the ground becoming compacted, anaerobic, slimy and poorly drained with little beneficial earthworm activity apparent. This does not represent good growing conditions for healthy plants to thrive in.

In the longer term further negative impacts have become apparent. Whenever a mulch is used it will over a period of time trap wind-blown dusty soil particles and seeds, often those of the most vigorous invasive weeds such as bramble, nettle or couch grass. Under these circumstances ideal germination conditions may arise and these seedlings will soon anchor themselves to the membrane and worse still eventually root through it into the soil beneath.

Weedy & neglected, the plants have failed to thrive despite the use of a membrane

Dealing with this kind of scenario, especially once the perennial weeds are well established negates any benefit derived from the use of the geotextile with the most likely solution being to grub everything out and replant afresh.

A solution that appears to work best is to plant quite densely and to omit the membrane, using  a decently thick layer of composted bark instead.  Ground smothering plants such as periwinkles are a particularly useful way of filling the gaps in and around other trees and other shrubs. The planting needs to be regularly inspected and any losses made good, the bark needs to be topped up as necessary and any incipient weeds dealt with before they have become established.

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Growing Beans by Award Winning Garden Designer Tim Brayford

french beans ready to eatFrench beans ready for eating

Growing Beans

I love beans. Any sort of beans. The amount I grow throws out my crop rotation. First in line are broad beans. I know some people say they are coarse but they obviously let them get old. I sow, for preference, in late October or early November. With nets across the top to deter the birds and mice who like them as much as I do. Up they come, a great big patch of them in blocks which hold each other up. The scent when they burst into flower is surprising and the bees love them. The anticipation of running a thumb and finger down a fresh green pod to see how big the beans are getting is only surpassed by actually popping it open. I pick carrier bags full from the allotment and settle down on the sun-lounger  to the pleasure of podding. Tea at hand and the wheelbarrow to take the waste. Colander on my lap and the radio on. That gentle ‘pop’ and peel down the edge to reveal beautiful pale green beans nestling in their downy beds. Cooked and cooled with a little garlicky olive oil dressing, bliss.

Broad beans ready to harvest

Well that’s my annual ‘starter for 10’ and then I move onto the serious business of climbing beans. I’ve been getting a bit adventurous lately and have taken to growing some of the Heritage beans available to Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library members. Members can chose varieties that are no longer available, or indeed legal, to sell as they have been removed from the European List. I’ve started to grow a wide range of climbing French beans, big ,fat purple pods, little pods with pregnant bumps, flat speckled ones and all come with interesting names and histories. Blue Coco, Mrs Fortunes, Madeira Maroon. And the beauty of the frenchies is that you can save the seed and become self sufficient in them. Anyone who thinks all beans taste the same should try some of these. There’s the smoky flavour of the purple podded Blue Coco and the squeaky freshness of Extra Hatif de Juillet.

Broad beans ready to cook

Runner beans hold top position as the traditional favourite. These are the beans of my childhood. My mother could dish me up a plate of mashed potato and sliced (longways of course) runner beans and I’d be as happy as a pig in a mud pond. It’s an iconic view of the English summer garden, red flowers teeming with bees as the speedy plants twine their way up hazel poles. The sheer volume of production can’t be beaten and the taste is superb, no matter what the French say…

To end the season there is the crop of dried beans. I was a bit sceptical when I first tried these. There was some head shaking from the ‘die hard’ department on the plot, accompanied by sharp intakes of breath. ‘They’ll never dry properly here’. Well they do, even in the damp years. I’m careful when I pick, making sure that the pods are dry. I don’t wait to pick them all together but harvest in two or three sessions. You start to get a feel for the pod, when it’s ready it’ll be papery and crackly to the touch, if there’s still a hint of softness it’s not ready. I finish drying by laying them out in old mushroom trays under cover. When I pod out the beans I put them in a ceramic bowl in the kitchen. I leave it uncovered for several days and every time I pass it I run my hands through and turn them. There’s something very satisfying and tactile about it.

Well, there you have it, I’m bean mad but the family wolf them back and there’s never yet been the cry of  ‘Oh No! Not more beans!’

Runner Bean Obelisk

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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A Seaside Garden on the Isle of Wight – by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

A Seaside Garden

Meeting the challenges of a seaside garden

Our clients had recently purchased a highly desirable seaside residence bordering the Solent. It had previously been used for commercial purposes and the grounds were in need of a considerable upgrade. On entering the driveway there were numerous eyesores that considerably detracted from the wonderful sea views that were evident. We removed a derelict mobile home , broken fencing and dying plants from an ill-advised and failed scheme that a previous occupant had planted.

In their place we constructed a series of raised beds supported by Cotswold natural stone walling. These were mass planted with a selection of evergreen flowering shrubs, carefully chosen to withstand exposure to salt laden winds whilst providing fragrance and reflecting the colours of the sea. A matching buff coloured self-binding gravel was sourced on the mainland to resurface the driveway with.

Plants thriving right on the water’s edge!

Adjacent to the house we planted semi-mature container grown conifers obtained from a specialist supplier near to London. These trees created instant impact in this part of the garden. Semi-mature evergreen hedging was planted to shield the garden from the worst of the wind. Planted areas were mulched with decorative bark chips to retain moisture and reduce weed growth, easing ongoing maintenance requirements.

Santolina thrives at the seaside

The surrounding lawn areas had previously been laid with a cheap turf unsuitable for this seaside location, the grass was in a very poor state and needed replacing. This was removed and the ground, which was quite uneven, levelled off. We imported a high quality seeded lawn turf grown inthe midlands with fine leaved grass species that thrive in locations next to the sea. There were a few challenging areas of the garden that were subject to being flooded, albeit infrequently, by the sea. These were planted with a mixture of shrub and herbaceous including Tamarisk, Sea Cotton Lavender and Sea Thrift.

 

Our client said:- Everything looks great in the garden, thankyou Tim for all you have done for us

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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