Planning and Planting a Garden by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

 

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Country Garden

Planting is a very personal thing and here at Tim Brayford Landscapes we understand this. One client will love a neat scheme of box topiary whereas another will long for a coloured tumble of cottage plants. A lot will depend on the amount of time a client has available to spend in their garden which is why initial discussions are so important.

We are experienced in all types of planting from semi-mature conifer gardens to neat, colourful beds in a courtyard garden. All require a lot of thought and careful planning to succeed. Plants have differing needs and consideration is given to soil type and location before suggestions are made.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Rose Garden

We have undertaken a large cottage garden with a formal paving structure which contained herbaceous perennials, roses and shrubs to great effect. A back garden which had structured shrub planting with bark chip underlay closer to the house and a more naturalised wild garden further back. This had native trees and was under-planted with clumps of spring bulbs and wild flowers.

Most recently we planted an extraordinarily steep terraced garden with shrubs and perennials which would give cover for most of the year therefore reducing the amount of mountaineering necessary!

Hedging is an emotive subject with neighbours but there are alternatives to the dreaded Leylandii. We have completed successful projects using several different types of hedging in estate situations as well as mixed native hedging for those in more rural or spacious locations.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Spring Flowers

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

Paving, Walling & Raised Beds by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Raised beds

Good garden design should include elements of paving and walling that enhance the overall effect of a garden as well as being practical. Different gardens lend themselves to different materials. Here at Tim Brayford Landscapes we believe discussion with the client is an important part of deciding these choices.

Tim Brayford Landscapes-Making the best of small spaces

We are experienced in all types of materials but particularly popular are reclaimed materials  such as brick, flagstones and stone walling. These are very successful in helping a garden to look mature. New materials, such as Sandstone paving, lend themselves to paving schemes where more regularity is required. Paths in new or old brick will give a mature ‘cottagey’ effect as will natural stone walling.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Raised Beds & Paving

Some of our latest schemes include a courtyard garden with raised brick beds, sandstone paving in a walled garden laid out in a geometric design, and a terracotta tiled terrace. We have also undertaken a difficult, steeply sloping site which required a curved set of steps leading to a decking viewpoint patio incorporating front beds. The design of steps is very important to ensure the correct ratio of step to riser and firmness of construction is crucial.

The use of gravel has become very popular and paths using paving stepping stones surrounded by gravel can be a way of reducing maintenance. Raised beds made from new railway sleepers were made for a recent garden scheme and the paths between were made from gravel over a compacted base layer.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – A good mix of paving & walling

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

           

            

The Potting Shed by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

 

Tim Brayford Landscapes – The potting shed

The potting shed was full of old fashioned charm.  I didn’t appreciate it at the time. What sixteen year old would? It was built of rough bricks in a warm shade of red with a slate roof. A wooden door was on the left hand side, its bottom edge ragged from rot and rodent’s teeth. There was a window set into the brick under which grew a neat row of Box. Closely pruned for making wreaths. Stepping through the door was like going back to 1872 not 1972. A mixture of stone slabs, brick and concrete made up the floor.  An ‘economy job’ as the boss used to say, ‘left-overs from something else’. All the gardening hand tools were hung on the left hand wall on square ended cut-nails. The wooden handles worn dark and smooth by decades of sweaty hands. Hoes and rip hooks made from proper forged steel which took an edge. Spade blades and fork tines worn down from years of use in stony ground.

 The walls had once been lime-washed. Dust had accrued on the rough surface and a fine grey lace of old cobwebs hung between the wall and the exposed wooden roof beams. On the right hand side were planking shelves. These were stacked with flat pack cardboard boxes variously used for tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries. They stuck out over the edge of the shelves and looked in imminent danger of falling off, but force of habit kept them there. There was a stout wooden workbench under the window, its surface covered with a rough grey blanket. Here, tomatoes were graded, wreaths were made and seeds were sown. The potting shed was never used for potting.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Pots

 Handy stuff was pushed out to the corners of the bench. A selection of old jam jars held florist’s wires, fine rusty dust gathering in the bottoms. They made a musical, metallic jingle when moved. A ceramic pot held pens and pencils. Odd amounts of wire were curled into circles and stood propped against the window frame. An old metal Oxo tin, its colours turning into rust, held a selection of small wooden dibbers for pricking out bedding plants. I became notorious for putting them down and then forgetting where I had put them. One of my workmates carved me a mahogany dibber with a hole in the end, through which he threaded a piece of string. He hung it round my neck like an Olympic medal causing much laughter from everyone else. I still have the dibber thirty odd years later, minus its string.

The roof beams were low enough to touch and all sorts of small items were hung there. Bags of elastic bands, bags of bags and string, lots of small bundles of string. These were a speciality of the boss’s father. He was affectionately known as the ‘Old Chap’. Well into his eighties he would shuffle out from the house around eleven in the morning and cast his pale, watery blue eyes over the contents of all the glasshouses. This took him some time as they were on quite a steep hill. He would tweak a plant here, move a tray there, and pick up string. He finished his tour of inspection in the shed. He would stand at the bench and slowly wind the bits of string around his fingers. Taking the long end he tied the bundle through the middle and put a loop in the end. He then selected a nail on the beams and hung it up. It sometimes took him a couple of goes as his aim wasn’t good. There was all sorts of string, from hairy sisal to orange binder twine. And there they hung, a flutter of bizarre butterflies. Job well done, he would adjust his flat tweed cap more firmly on his head and shuffle back indoors for his lunch.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – The Potting Shed

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

 

I love my greenhouse by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

 

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Greenhouse

I do, I really do. What do I love about it? Well for starters there’s the smell. Warm, wet, leafmould and compost. You tip up the watering can on a warm day and the water sinks into the humus rich soil and within a few seconds it’s released a wonderful earthy odour that holds the promise of growth. The greenhouse is so full of promise in the spring. Everything has the potential to be a success.

Seed sowing is a great activity for a cold blustery day. I can slide back the door, nip inside quick and shut out the bad weather. With the heater going I perch on a stool and fill small trays and pots with compost that’s been warming up over the last few weeks. I find it pays to get bags of compost early, store them in the greenhouse and when you want to use them they’re not totally soggy and freezing cold. I keep my seeds in biscuit tins, the deeper sort that crackers come in are good. In December I’ll go through the seeds that I have left from the previous year and chuck out the ones that are probably too old to germinate well. Then I order what I need from a catalogue, that’s a good bit of armchair gardening for a rainy day too! I have dividers made from a cereal box, which are labelled with the months January to July, which fit across the tin and I sort the packets into the months they are to be sown. I find that if I don’t do this during a quiet time then when spring really gets into it’s stride things are so busy that something gets forgotten.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Cucumber

I have a couple of ‘window-sill’ propagators on a shelf and they are invaluable, bottom heat gets things started so much quicker. If you want to get things going early then electricity is a must in the greenhouse. The thrill of a new season starts when those little shoots start unfurling in the trays. I love going to the greenhouse every morning to see what’s come up. Then the game of musical plants starts. For a couple of months I have pots and trays on shelving, makeshift benches or on the ground. It’s too cold outside still and there’s just so much of everything. I swear that growth can be smelt in the air, particularly tomatoes. Just brush a leaf and the pungent odour is with you.

At last the weather warms up and the tougher things destined for the outdoors anyway can be moved out to a sheltered spot. I can space things out, start to dismantle the benches and think about planting the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. I grow all these in the same greenhouse, some people say you shouldn’t. Or can’t. But I have found over the years that with a little improvisation you can grow them together, after all, who has the luxury of several greenhouses?  The toms and peppers like the sunnier side and the cucumbers benefit from a bit of shade, I’ve found that a strip of horticultural fleece hung on the southern side of the cucumber plants works well. So, they’re planted out and they sit there for a few days, looking like they’re doing nothing. But the roots will be burrowing into the humus rich ground and suddenly they’re off! Rich green leaves are doing an impression of Jack’s beanstalk and spotting the first embryonic cucumber or the yellow blossom of tomato becomes the thrill of the morning visit.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Tomato

The best thrill of all comes when I go into the greenhouse and cup my hand under a ripe tomato, gently twist upwards and take it off the plant. The flavour from that fruit will remind me why I go to all this trouble every year. Oh, I most definitely love my greenhouse.

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

 

Pruning Apples and Pears by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

 

Tim Brayford Landscapes-Apples

The Quick Guide to Winter Pruning

If in doubt…Don’t! Well, you have to agree, that was quick. But I think we can do better than that. Apples and pears will quite often fruit reasonably well if you just leave them alone but they will get to a stage where overcrowding of branches and disease will cut down the on the reason we grow them; the fruit.

Why do we prune? We need to prune to encourage fruiting ‘spurs’, clear out any dead or diseased wood and generally shape the tree to an attractive form. We’ve all seen children’s drawings of trees, generally a cup on a leg, and for ordinary bush forms, which is what we shall deal with here, that’s not far off the ideal.

Stand back and take a good look at your tree. Is it the shape you want? Does it interfere with paths, buildings etc? Don’t be afraid to tackle it, you’re the boss!

Taking out branches which cross over the middle of the cup is a good idea as it keeps the air moving through the tree when it’s in full leaf and helps to prevent fungus diseases. If your tree has several branches in this position remove only one or two each winter as a severe removal of a large mass of branches will result in the tree producing a lot of compensating growth the next year and very little fruit. The same goes for branches which need to come out to improve the shape. Remove any branches which are diseased or have died back to where you are sure the growth looks clean.

Tim Brayford Landscapes-Apple Blossom

RULE 1. Stagger removal of large branches over several winters.

RULE 2. Cut cleanly, using a pruning saw or good loppers,leaving a very small ‘stub’, which should heal over by itself.

Now come in close and look at one major branch at a time to assess it’s fruiting ability. Most varieties produce fruiting spurs which are clusters of small, knobbly twigs with fat flower buds on.(Growth buds tend to be thinner and pointed) What you are aiming for is a framework of  branches with a good coverage of spurs.

What you may have are branches covered with lots of whippy growth about 6 to 12 inches long (showing my age there I’m afraid!), these will need to be shortened to two buds long, in other words  where two leaves were in the summer. If  it is very crowded you may need to remove some altogether, spacing them out along the branches about 5 to 6 inches apart is good. These will then start to produce flower buds over the next summer.

RULE 3. Shorten small whippy growth to encourage fruiting spurs.w

This is a much simplified guide to winter pruning but it gives you the basics to tackle your fruit trees, if you decide to pursue this topic further there are many good books available or call in an expert, we’ve been keeping trees performing well for years!

Word of Caution – If someone comes to prune your fruit trees with a chainsaw, show them the gate… If that’s what they need then they’re taking off too much!

Tim Brayford Landscapes-Apple Tree

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

The Garden in Winter by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

 

Tim Brayford Landscapes – A snowy Garden

“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.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Vivid Dogwoods

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.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Frosty Fern

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.

Please visit our website , email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com or phone 07890 869918 to discuss how we can assist you with your landscape garden project.

The Garden in Autumn by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

Colourful autumn leaves on the Isle of Wight -Tim Brayford Landscapes

“When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark
Makes its mark
On the flowers, and the misty morning grieves
Over fallen leaves;
Then my olden garden, where the golden soil
Through the toil
Of a hundred years is mellow, rich, and deep,
Whispers in its sleep.”
Henry Van Dyke

Autumn is probably the busiest season in the garden and is an excellent time to reinvigorate planting schemes.

As late summer blooms begin to fade cut down the spent flowering stalks of herbaceous plants, dividing and moving crowns if necessary, fork in organic matter such as leaf mould whilst doing so.

Plant spring flowering bulbs such as Daffodils and Tulips, those of Snowdrops may also be planted now but may be more successful if planted in the green next spring. Summer bedding can be replaced with winter flowering Universal Pansies and Polyanthus “Crescendo”.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Autumn bedding

Early preparation for and ordering of bare-rooted plants can be wise as this will allow them to be planted in early November before the worst of the winter weather sets in.

The Autumn flowering Cherries – Prunus subhirtella “Autumnalis” (white) and “Autumnalis Rosea” (Pink) are one of the few trees that will start to blossom at this time of year and there is much to be enjoyed with the vivid leaf colours of Acers such as the yellow A.Campestre or the orange and red of A. Rubrum., and likewise for shrubs such as Viburnum Opulus. The Virginia Creepers have good autumn colour too, Parthenocissus quinquefolia “Engelmannii” is a particularly good variety.

Many trees and shrubs will be bearing attractive fruits and berries, although the reds of plants such as Cotoneasters and Pyracanthas seem to predominate Yellow and Orange varieties may also be found. The red and orange fruited Malus John Downie looks particularly good at this time of year as do the large red hips borne by Rosa Moysii “Geranium”.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – A heavy crop of apples on the Isle of Wight

Just after the fruits have been picked and the leaves have begun to fall is a good time to prune Apples and Pears, remove weak, damaged and crossing over shoots and branches to allow light into the centre of the tree.

Brush fallen leaves and other debris from the lawn, raising the mowing height for the final few cuts.

By Tim Brayford

To learn more about what Tim Brayford Landscapes have to offer please visit our website, email us timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com or call 07890869918