Spring Bulbs by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Spring Bulbs

Spring Bulbs

I love daffodils. There, I’ve come out and said it. I like the good old common or garden yellow ones. Not very fashionable I know, but I love the big yellow heads nodding in the spring sunshine. They always look good under trees and in clumps in borders but I wouldn’t attempt them in pots, they tend to flop about too much. I like the smaller, lighter ones here, not the real miniatures they are better in with alpines or the front of a border. One of my favourites is ‘Jetfire’, these are gorgeous in tubs. I plant half a dozen in a 9 inch terracotta pot and the proportions look just right when they flower. The pots are placed up the edge of the front door steps and cheer us up for weeks.

Cheerful daffodils

A couple of years ago I tried something different in my wall baskets under the living room windows. I usually leave these empty in winter as winter pansies and primroses don’t seem to like the extra exposure that the height brings and I planted ‘Jetfire’. They were brilliant. Their bright heads popped up far enough to dance along the bottom of the window, allowing us to enjoy them even in rough weather.

Spring Bulbs & Sundial

Still, daffs aren’t the only bulbs and I have a penchant for big, bold tulips as well. Deep red, bright pink but not yellow, the daffs supply that! I love big bellied pots with big bellied tulips, they just seem to go together. Have you ever gazed into a wide open tulip? Fabulous.

Bluebells are beautiful, particularly if you can manage a woodland setting for them, but if not try to find them a sheltered spot under deciduous shrubs as they will not appreciate too much heat.

Snowdrops are amongst the earliest to flower

Snowdrops are another little beauty and they need to be where you can appreciate their early flowering. Don’t hide them away in a part of the garden that you never visit in winter or there’s no point in growing them!

Well, these are just a few of my favourites and if you look through the catalogues the choices are endless, try some. Experiment with something different. I can guarantee you will pace around the garden peering into pots and borders waiting for the first shoots.

Bluebells attract bees!

For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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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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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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B.A.L.I. National Award Winning Garden Designed by Tim Brayford

The Isle of Wight has long been recognised as benefitting  from both a mild coastal climate and fertile soils favourable to the gardener

“In general such is the purity of the air, the fertility of the soil, and the beauty and variety of the landscapes, that this island has often been styled the Garden of England” – The History of the Isle of Wight, Sir Richard Worsley. 1781

This is one of a series of articles and anecdotes largely based around our work on the Isle of Wight and occasionally further afield

The Tim Brayford Designed B.A.L.I. National Award Winning Garden

One of the greatest pleasures to be had from providing a professional garden design and construction service is when you receive positive feedback from grateful clients, however it really is an honour and a privilege when you receive such accolades from your fellow professionals and competitors.

Our brief for this project  was to provide a low maintenance garden on a limited budget  that would provide some colour and interest throughout the year with some paved areas and  whilst retaining the centrally placed greenhouse.

The challenges presented by the site tested our abilities to the full. The plot was very overgrown, quite narrow at around 15’ (4.5m) wide and 45’ (14m) long, but that was not all. It rose in height by around 20’ (6m) with a dangerous flight of collapsing concrete steps.

Tim Brayford  B.A.L.I. Award Garden – Project underway

The principle site access was via the front door of the house, up some stairs and out of the back door across a narrow iron walk way. The street outside was a narrow cul-de-sac with double yellow lines and special consideration had to be given not to inconvenience neighbouring properties during the work.

We created a seating area for a bench based on some railway sleepers at the very top of the garden to provide views over the nearby downs, countryside and sea, accessed by some shallow winding sleeper steps and a pea shingle path.

A larger area of mixed natural stone and recycled brick paving was situated further down in front of the greenhouse, with tubs and other planters containing soft fruit, herbs and annual bedding.  Other planting included a mixture of evergreen shrubs,fruit trees, roses and herbaceous perennials with some rusticwork supporting fragrant climbers. Weed control was aided by spreading bark flakes over a geotextile membrane edged with rustic logs and natural stone walling with watering from an automated irrigation system.

Receiving our prestigious award!

 

 

 

Tim Brayford Landscapes B.A.L.I. Awards Contractor Winner

Tim Brayford Landscapes B.A.L.I. Award Garden Designer Winner

 

 

With the encouragement of our client we entered this project for the British Association of Landscape Industries National Award competition, here is what the judges said:-

“The Tim Brayford Landscapes entry was superb, especially as it overcame the difficulties of a narrow plot which rose by over 20 feet. Tim Brayford and his team created a small garden with a simple patio  as its central feature surrounded by mixed fruit trees and bushes with automatic watering. It is terrific value for money and the result is a folksy cottage garden full of interest, colour and contour. The client is delighted.”

 

 

 

 

 

For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918