June spotter sheets

How are your children getting on with our junior section, #HerbologyHunt? Here’s our June spotter sheet – happy hunting!

Click on the image below to download the sheet.


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/06/17/june-spotter-sheets/


15 easy affordable ideas for town gardens

There are 29 town gardens open next weekend (June 24th 10am-5pm) for the Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day. There are also 25+ market stalls selling plants and gardenalia.

All the gardens are very different, but they each have something special about them.

So for those who can’t make it next Sunday, here is my pick of the easy, affordable – and inspiring – ideas for your garden.

Echo the colour of your front door with planting

Garden maker Posy Gentles, in Newton Road, has just re-painted her front door and windows. That means it’s time for a fresh approach for the pots in the front garden.

Pots by the front door

Coleus and calibrachoa echo the new front door colour and the dark green paint on the brickwork.

Put the veg patch first…

Now that we’ve all stopped thinking about hiding the veg growing area away, it makes sense to put it directly outside the back door. This garden in Norman Road starts with veg beds, opens up into a lawn and has a pretty seating area beyond.

Norman Road in Faversham Open Gardens

Veg before flowers at Norman Road, but the garden is still very pretty.

Or even in the middle of the lawn…

Sarah Langton-Lockton’s beans, kale and lettuce are at the centre of her double-width town garden, breaking up the space.

Veg beds central to the lawn

This garden in Athelstan Road was also open for the NGS a few weeks ago – here’s a post on how Sarah started it from scratch.

Go for a jungle theme…

Well, you saw Monty Don planting an Ethiopian banana palm in his borders at Longmeadow on Gardener’s World, didn’t you?

Exotic plants are back, but for B&B owner, Mary Mackay, they never went away. She’s been planting her small town garden with tropical-looking plants for over twenty years.

A jungle theme works well in town gardens

‘Exotic’ is a good theme for small town gardens because they are usually sheltered. They may even be warmer because of the walls of the centrally heated houses nearby. Even if they’re not, some ‘jungle’ plants are quite hardy. This garden is also in Newton Road.

Here’s a useful post about creating an exotic garden in a cool climate.

Meadows in small town gardens

You don’t have to own a large garden to have a meadow. Julian and Amanda Mannering have a square walled garden. One day a friend suggested they put a meadow in the centre, and they did.

Having a meadow isn’t quite a simple as just stopping mowing the lawn, and it’s taken a few years to get established with ox-eye daisies and other wildflowers. But it wasn’t difficult.

Mown paths for a meadow lawn

The Mannerings in Abbey St have a square of meadow in the centre of their walled town garden. It has a mown path through it.

Paint your fences

The Mannerings have painted their fences – and a bench – in a shade of blue. It was a bit bright when they first put it on, but it’s quickly weathered down and is a charming backdrop for planting.

Paint fences in town gardens

Blue fences make a charming backdrop for planting in Abbey St.

And paint your sheds…

Paint your shed in contrasting colours

Don’t miss this delightful garden in Upper Brents. Photo of contrasting door and shed painted by the owner, Richard Drew.

Stick (almost) to a colour theme

The owner of this beautiful long town garden in Newton Road is Scandinavian, hence her stylish use of white and grey in the garden.

Try bleached tones for your wooden garden furniture

The owner of this garden painted her benches and tables with Wet and Forget, which is actually a moss, mould, lichen and algae treatment. But it gives this lovely faded grey tone to the wood. Links to Amazon are affiliate links which means you can click through to buy. If you do, I may get a small fee, but it won’t affect the price you pay.

Don’t have too many different hard landscaping elements

Town gardens often have alot of different elements. One owner will put in a shed, the next a terrace – and it could all get very muddled.

Sarah Langton-Lockton had old garden walls, a slightly newer brick shed and she bought her own greenhouse half-made of brick. So when it came to the path, she chose brick.

All the bricks are different but they’re still bricks, so the garden feels calm and ordered.

Harmonise hard landscaping materials

Four different eras of brick in just a few square feet. But it doesn’t look messy because it’s all in a brick pattern. It’s about harmony rather than matching.

Furnish your garden for free with Freegle/Freecycle and plant swaps

Lots of surprises lie behind the garden gates in The Knole. It’s one of the modern roads in the west of Faversham, and the gardens around here are new to Faversham Open Gardens this year.

This garden is narrow but stretches out into a marshy wood. The owner managed to source free car tyres for a path, mannequins as garden sculpture and gets many plants from plant swaps.

Find Freegle here – it’s also very good if you’re clearing your house, as people will come and take the items away.

Your local horticultural society will usually do plant swaps. The RHS has a service for finding local gardening groups.

Freegle or Freecycle can make your garden very interesting

This garden is constantly changing, but here is a mannequin acquired via Freegle and several kinds of persicaria.

Use office or industrial items outside

Use office furniture outside

This is office furniture used outside. It’s been fine for many years – if it’s glass or plastic it should weather well. Also in the Knole.

Or adapt charity shop finds…

Charity shop buys in a town garden

Another garden behind a twentieth century newbuild in Ivory Close – the owners volunteer at the Cancer Research charity shop. They adapt their charity shop finds – this is a really unusual and charming garden, and is the furthest out. (near Sainsbury’s). So do make that extra bit of effort to get there!

There are more charity shop finds in this post about the Ivory Close garden.

Make sculpture the focus of a bed

This clever placing of a sculpture makes the most of the shape of the tree. And it distracts from the odd weed, too.

This garden belongs to Colin Rushton in the Mall, is also new this year. It’s a very long, thin town garden, with high historic walls and a wonderful sense of history.

Town garden design ideas

Who cares about the odd strand of bindweed when there is a beautiful old wall and a cleverly placed sculpture?

Support wildlife

This bird feeder cum birdhouse makes a beautiful focal point for Colin Rushton’s terrace. The house is particularly interesting. It was a seventeenth century farmhouse, which was turned into a pub in Georgian times, then given a new front in Victoria’s reign. It was a popular trade union meeting place in the 1950s, and became a private home in the 1960s.

Support wildlife with a beautiful bird feeder

The seventeenth century farm workers slept upstair in the loft, now accessed by the blue door. The greenhouse on the left used to be the pub urinals. A really pretty and interesting house and garden. The dovecote-cum bird feeder is charming.

Place garden pots in beds for definition

This charming narrow town garden in Briton Road belongs to the Foremans. They have used a garden pot as a pond, and also in borders.

Use a pot as a pond

Even a very small water source is valuable to wildlife but don’t forget to make sure it doesn’t dry out in hot weather. In Briton Road

Pots in town gardens

The Foremans have pots in borders – they make brilliant ‘punctuation points’.

A spring/early summer meadow strip

The macLachlans in Abbey St plant bulbs in a strip of lawn down one side of their garden. They let the grass grow long as the bulbs die down.

Around mid-summer, they finally give the strip its first mow, and it then becomes a normal part of the lawn. It’s a nice way of having bulbs in the lawn without getting frustrated by having to let the whole lawn grow out of control.

A spring meadow strip in a town garden

This long grass wias returned to normal lawn soon after this picture was taken. Then it’ll grow long again next spring and early summer.

Try a free-standing arch

OK – so this is a slightly more expensive suggestion than the others. But it looks so pretty and is a great way of dividing up space in a small garden because you can see through it.

A free-standing arch for small town gardens.

This frames the back door and the steps to the terrace. But it’s free-standing – it doesn’t have trellis around it, so it’s a great option for small town gardens. It’s the macLachlan’s garden in Abbey St

Put a roof on a standard wooden pergola

You have to be a bit handy about this one, and also to check that the pergola is sturdy enough.

My brother-in-law spent three days adding a corrugated iron roof to our twenty-five year old pergola to turn it into an all-weather dining area.

It cost around £300 and is a lovely place to eat.

Add a corrugated iron roof to a pergola

Visit my garden, also in the Mall in Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day.

Shop in markets and fairs

There’s a garden market in the historic Market Place on Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day. There are vintage and second-hand garden items, specialist plants stalls and lots to eat and drink.

Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day

Plant stalls, vintage tool stalls and lots more… in Faversham Market on 24th June.

Entrance to the gardens is by guidebook only. £6 each or two for £10 (with one guidebook and one map). Available from the Faversham Society, 10-13 Preston St, Faversham ME13 8NS or from our Open Gardens stall in the Market Place on 24th June.

Faversham Open Gardens stall

Look for our stall – the market closes at 4pm, but you can leave your plants with our plant creche.

Do come and say hello if you’re visiting my garden, and if you have any good town garden ideas do leave them in the comments below. Thank you!

Three free tickets to the Woburn Abbey Garden Show

Also on the weekend of 23rd and 24th June isNow in its 9th year, the Woburn Abbey Garden Show, sometimes called the ‘Gardeners’ Garden Show’ is just over an hour from London in 42-acres of the Abbey’s beautifully landscaped gardens.

Shopping at the Woburn Abbey Garden Show

The award-winning exhibitors and nurseries have been handpicked by Woburn. The displays are complemented by an array of live entertainment, artisan foods, shopping, demonstrations, informative talks and gardening advice, tips and tours.

Woburn Abbey gardens

Show highlights include Talks and Q&A sessions with BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost, BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Pippa Greenwood and Woburn Estates Gardens Manger and show organiser Martin Towsey.

To win your free tickets, let me know why you would like to win, either in the comments below, on Twitter (to @midsizegarden) or on the Middlesized Garden Facebook page.

More fab town garden ideas from BBC Gardeners World Live!

Pin for reference

17 easy affordable town garden ideas #gardening #gardenideas

The post 15 easy affordable ideas for town gardens appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/15-easy-affordable-ideas-for-town-gardens/

The 25 best self-seeding plants to save you time and money

Self-seeding plants are the key to gardening on automatic. The less you do, the more they grow.

And they’re free. You buy one packet of seeds or one plant, and get a lifetime of exuberant flowers.

But I did feel rather guilty while going round my garden today. I counted over 25 different kinds of self-seeding plants.

Self-seeded border

This section of the main border is wholly self-seeded: alliums, euphorbia, rosa glauca and crocosmia…

Do I actually ever plant anything? Do I even lift a finger in the garden?

I promise I do. But without self-seeders, my garden would be much less vibrant. And I would have to spend much more time and money on it.

What are self-seeding plants?

It’s not a silly question. When patrolling the garden, I had to ask myself ‘is this a self-seeder or a clump-former?’

A self-seeding plant is one which plants itself. If you’re a bit lazy about dead-heading, then self-seeders will flower. They turn to seed and drop on the ground. If you’re also always a bit behind with the weeding, they will pop up again in spring.

The wind or birds may also carry the seed, so self-seeding plants can pop up in any part of the garden.

Gladioli communis and euphorbia oblongata are vigorous self-seeding plants

My two most prolific self-seeders are wild gladioli and euphorbia.

Some plants, such as day lilies, have all expanded from one or two tiny plants into huge clumps. But they don’t wander round the garden, establishing themselves wherever they see fit. So I don’t call them self-seeders.

Which plants self-seed in your garden can depend on your soil type as well as how good you are at weeding and dead-heading.

Aquilegias and eryngium are both defined as top self-seeders by Gardeners World, but I have planted one or two aquilegias. I still have only one or two aquilegias, exactly where I planted them. I know they’re not the same plants, but I wouldn’t call them a top self-seeding plant for my garden.

And my eryngium has also stayed where I planted it, without invading anywhere else.

We have clay soil, by the way, with some flint.

My very favourite self-seeder

Wild gladioli

One of our friends was born in this house in 1939. He remembers the wild gladioli in the garden when he was a very young boy.  It’s likely that they were already well established by then as most gardening in the Second World War was growing for food.

So these wild gladioli have been in this garden for a hundred years or more. It’s their garden, more than it’s mine.

My favourite self-seeding plant - wild gladioli

Gladiolus communis subsp. ‘Byzantinus’ to give wild gladioli its proper name. It comes from the Mediterranean but has been grown in Britain for centuries. In our front garden it lines itself up along the wall. My favourite self-seeder, because of its history.

The best self-seeding flowers


After wild gladioli, my number two self-seeder is cerinthe. It’s an unusual looking plant, and people always ask ‘what’s that?’ But it’s no trouble at all.

Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' is an excellent self-seeder

I grew some cerinthe (Cerinthe major ‘Purpurescens’) from seed about fourteen years ago. They didn’t do particularly well, but the following year, they established two self-seeded clumps in the garden, and have thrived on total neglect ever since.

Alliums ‘Purple Sensation’ and Christophii

These are the self-seeding plants I couldn’t do without. I find that both Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and Allium Christophii self-seed vigorously. I originally bought 15 Purple Sensation about ten years ago, and now have around 50.

Alliums are good self-seeders

The tall lollipops are Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and the shorter pale lilac fireworks are Allium Christophii. Seen here with self-seeders Euphorbia oblongata and Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’.

There was one Allium Christophii in this garden when we moved in 15 years ago. We now have around 80-100.

Self-seeded combination of allium and rose

I particularly love this combination as both plants self-seeded themselves here. Allium Christophii knew it would look good with Rosa glauca.


The common poppy or Papaver rhoeas is brilliantly colourful and so charmingly simple.

The common poppy or Papaver rhoeas self-seed easily.

I’d like my poppies to be that pretty lilac colour, but my garden has other ideas. Am I in charge here or not? Not. Although I think the lilac ones may have mixing with my reds…

Lychnis coronaria

Otherwise know as ‘rose campion’, this has cheery pink flowers and a nice grey felted foliage. Some of my lychnis has planted itself in a neat circle around a tree. It’s too close and isn’t particularly good for the tree, but I do admire the way it has synchronised itself.

Lychnis coronaria self-seeds vigorously

This rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) may look sweetly shy and retiring, but give it an inch and it’ll take a mile.

Erigeron or ‘seaside daisies’

I love seeing clouds of these growing out of walls and steps. Though I do have friends who don’t like them…you know who you are.

Seaside daisies and lady's mantle

Seaside daisies with lady’s mantle, or – if we’re being posh – Erigeron karvinskianus with Alchemilla mollis.


Where would a summer garden be without foxgloves? Here is a photo of the back border, which is actually full of plants which I planted. Except for the foxgloves, who kindly decided that I needed a bit more vertical interest.

June border in an English garden

The spires of foxgloves improve this border, most of which was actually planted. Although I keep digging up the Japanese anenomes – they’re spreaders, not self-seeders and would survive anything.


This is a surprise entry for this section. You are supposed to be able to grow coriander as a herb in Britain, provided you plant it late enough in the year to stop it bolting.

I have never managed to get more than a handful or two of the coriander leaves for the kitchen, but it flowers and self-seeds so beautifully that I think it probably works better as a flower for me.

Self-seeding coriander

Coriander grown from seed. It bolted but has since come back twice, and I rather love the flowers.

Self-seeders for foliage

My top self-seeders for foliage or greenery are:

Euphorbia oblongata

It’s unstoppable in its bid for world domination. Some of my other euphorbias, such as Euphorbia palustris, don’t self-seed or spread at all.

Euphorbia oblongata is one of the easiest self-seeding plants

This Euphorbia oblongata knows that you should always plant yourself in threes….the spiky leaves between them are self-seeded Crocosmia, who also appear to have been reading about garden design and the importance of contrasting leaf shapes.

Alchemilla mollis

Lady’s mantle froths happily between pavers and pops up in beds. I have no idea where it came from. One day it wasn’t there, and then it was.

Alchemilla mollis is an easy green self-seeder.

This Alchemilla mollis (also known as Lady’s mantle) has planted itself amongst some low-growing roses.

Smyrnium perfoliatum

This is another vibrant early summer green that looks after itself. I bought three plants from Great Dixter over ten years ago, and now have two huge clumps. It’s exceptionally long-lasting as a cut flower and disappears completely around the end of June.

Self-seeding greenery

Smyrnium perfoliatum – a vigorous self-seeder for shade. It looks a bit like euphorbia and lasts a long time in a vase.

Self-seeding edibles

You can eat both marigolds and nasturtiums. I have known komatsuma and spinach to self-seed and be good to eat, and also rocket.


Definitely my top self-seeding herb. It took a good year to get established from seed, and I was initially disappointed by its growth. But in its second year, it took off around the garden, where it serves as foliage, garnish and an ingredient for parsley sauce.


Self-seeding parsley

The parsley goes where it likes. Here it’s decided to share with a row of beetroot.

Self-seeding companion plants

It’s helpful if self-seeders can be useful. Marigold and nasturtiums are both valuable in the veg patch, where they help deter pests.


People can be snooty about these, and I do often pull them out, but their smell repels greenfly and blackfly. They also attract hoverflies which live on blackfly, so they are generally a good thing.

Marigolds in the veg patch

Marigolds in the rhubarb beds – they seem happy to grow anywhere in the garden, but I pull them out elsewhere.

Sculptural self-seeders

Sculptural plants are vital in any garden, and self-seeders can be wonderfully sculptural.

Angelica archangelica

It takes a couple of years to establish because it’s a biennial, but once it gets a cycle going, you’ll never have to give it another thought. Brilliant in May and June, collapses a bit after that, but you have to leave it or it won’t self-seed.

Angelica archangelica is a sculptural self-seeder

Angelica archangelica used as a temporary hat stand over a long lunch….

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

There was a patch of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ in this garden when we arrived fifteen years ago. It is now everywhere, but I do like it. Its seed-heads are wonderful, both in the vase and in the garden.

Verbena bonariensis and Crocosmia 'Lucifer' add height to a border.

Crocosmia Lucifer with another sculptural self-seeding plant – verbena bonariensis.

Verbena bonariensis

This doesn’t self-seed quite as vigorously as I’d like, so I occasionally have to re-plant it. But it seems to need very little attention, and wanders about the garden, occasionally planting itself in a pot.


Self-sown sisirinkian

This is so obliging that many people consider it a weed, but I love its sculptural creamy flowers.

The best self-seeding plants for shade

Angelica archangelica, foxgloves, smyrnium perfoliatum, lamium (dead nettle), primroses and Solomon’s seal all do well in shade. Solomon’s seal takes several years to get properly established, but I know have two generous clumps – from just one or two plants.

Three excellent self-seeders for shade - smyrnium perfoliatum, foxgloves and angelica archangelica

A trio of beautiful self-seeding plants that love the shade: Angelica archangelica, foxgloves and smyrnium perfoliatum.

Solomon's seal is ideal for shade

Solomon’s seal now grows in two large clumps but it was not an overnight success. Patience is required, but not much effort. These plants were in a shady spot, and have gently self-seeded over around 10 years.

When NOT to allow self-seeding

Some plants do not make good self-seeders. In the veg bed, you won’t get any reasonable flavour out of anything that has self-sown from an F1 hybrid. That’s because an F1 hybrid has been specially created. Its seeds are usually disappointing.

However, heritage varieties of vegetable may self-seed, or it’s worth keeping the seed.

Similarly some garden flowers don’t come true from seed. My lavender self-seeds but I have been warned by the grower I bought it off that it won’t come true. He advised me to take cuttings rather than rely on self-seeders.

Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day on June 24th

Come and see my self-seeders (and weeds) on June 24th for Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day. There will be 29 gardens open and a wonderful garden market in Faversham’s historic Market Place. Posy Gentles’ garden will also be open, and there’s a video preview of her long, thin town garden here:

Pin for reference:

Save time and money with plants that grow themselves. 25 gorgeous self-seeding plants. #gardening

The post The 25 best self-seeding plants to save you time and money appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/the-25-best-self-seeding-plants-to-save-you-time-and-money/

Escape to the beach with Whitstable Open Gardens…

Whitstable Open Gardens is on next weekend (for the NGS).

Ten gardens will be open on 10th June (10am-5pm), which makes it easy to remember.

Beach garden ideas from the charming fishing village of Whitstable #beachgardens

Wildflowers on Joy Lane beach at sunset. There are two gardens in Joy Lane in Whitstable Open Gardens.

But even if you’re nowhere near Kent, let me treat you to a few of the summery seaside garden ideas. This really is a delightful group of small town, beach and roof gardens.

Creative paths and terraces

Teresa Brown lives in an Arts & Crafts house – one of the earliest built in Joy Lane, Whitstable. She has been wonderfully creative with her paths and terraces, using offcuts of brick and tile to create paving.

Creative pavers in Whitstable Open Gardens

The pavers surrounding the pond include a checkers board in tiles, a sunburst plus a lizard design. Teresa did them using pebbles, tiles and other found objects. Photo by Francine Raymond.

The Browns raised five children at the house, and now they have grandchildren. She’s made a tile and brick ‘noughts and crosses’ paver beside the pond, which they can play with shells.

Hand-made pavers with stones and tile

Noughts and crosses by the pond. To be played with shells.

Jazz up cracked concrete

Teresa brightened up a cracked concrete pathway by opening the concrete up a bit more then filling it with patterns made with tiles and bricks.

Upcycled pots at Whitstable Open Gardens

Teresa has put together a number of broken pots in an unusual arrangement.

A clever idea for broken pots from Whitstable Open Gardens

Teresa has used several layers of broken pot for this arrangement.

Upcycled kitchenware used as garden pots

Jelly moulds and succulents at Clare Road for Whitstable Open Gardens.

Agricultural feeding trough used as a raised bed.

A galvanised agricultural feeding trough used as a garden planter further up Joy Lane, home of garden writer Francine Raymond.

A good twist for garden furniture

Paint a garden bench in stripes

Teresa Brown painted an ordinary garden bench in stripes of colour, and then matched it with the planting. At Joy Lane for Whitstable Open Gardens.

Paint junk shop furniture

Francine has a two-colour theme in her garden – grey and yellow. That’s because she has a yellow brick house with grey slates. She buys garden furniture in junk shops or car boot fairs and ‘pulls it all together’ by painting it either yellow or grey.

And a roof garden…

A roof garden by the beach

Ocean Cottage has a tiny roof garden with an idyllic view and lots of pots.

A garden with echoes of the beach…

The Guinea is in Whitstable Open Gardens

The Guinea is a very pretty garden with white walls and lots of pots.

An interesting use of plants…

Growing ivy up fruit trees

Teresa Brown in Joy Lane has deliberately grown ivy up some ancient fruit trees in order to have some greenery in the winter. It’s a variegated ivy so it doesn’t look too dark.

Beautiful long thin town gardens…

Long thin town gardens in Whitstable

Don’t miss Argyle Road – a typical long thin town garden transformed by Mel and Emma, great for wildlife and plant lovers.

A walk along the beach…

Wild mallow on Whitstable beach

Wild mallow on Whitstable beach…

Jojos in Tankerton

Somewhere for lunch – Jojo’s in Tankerton is a favourite of mine.

And for more Whitstable beach…

See this video for more beach garden tips and inspiration,plus a stroll along Whitstable beach:


Whitstable Open Gardens is on 10th June. Tickets £6 available from the individual gardens, see the NGS website.

Faversham Open Gardens and Garden Market Day is on 24th June, 10am-5pm with 29 gardens and 25+ market stalls.

Pin for reference:

Beach garden ideas from the fishing village of Whitstable #gardening #beachgardens

The post Escape to the beach with Whitstable Open Gardens… appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/escape-to-the-beach-with-whitstable-open-gardens/

How to start a successful garden from scratch

Starting a garden from scratch is both a challenge and  a privilege.

When Sarah Langton-Lockton bought her 1920s house, the garden was overgrown to the point of dereliction. It all had to be cleared, except for one camellia and one small tree.

Within two years, it was good enough to open to the public, and now, just three years on, it’s open for the NGS Kent on June 2nd, along with two other local gardens. That’s quite an accolade And it’s been achieved in a remarkably short time.

Sarah created this garden from scratch in just a year or two.

Sarah created this garden from scratch in not much more than a year or two. Now it’s open both for the NGS on June 2nd and for Faversham Open Gardens on June 24th.

If you’re creating your garden from scratch, you may also be faced with a garden is just a plain lawn, either because it’s newly built or because the previous owners weren’t interested in gardening.

A garden from scratch means you can start at once

When you move into a new home, garden experts always counsel you to wait a year to see what’s in the garden. It’s great advice because trees and shrubs planted years ago can give a garden maturity and texture. If your predecessor was a keen gardener, then you will undoubtedly have some gems that you won’t want to get rid of.

But if it’s clear that nothing is there, you can start immediately.

Although, to be fair, you’ll probably take a year to move in and ‘do’ the house, which is what Sarah did.

What shape is your garden?

Garden planning starts with your garden shape. Is it long and thin, rectangular, square or wide and shallow?

A greenhouse on one side

The extra width of Sarah’s plot meant she was able to put the greenhouse on one side, halfway along. It’s serves as a charming focal point as well as for growing.

Sarah was particularly excited about planning the garden, because it was a double width plot. ‘All my life I’ve gardened in long, thin London gardens, so having the extra width was wonderful. But I had to think about how to break up the space differently.’

She decided to have one ‘long border’ on just one side, but to make it deep and generous. She is influenced by Great Dixter, where the Long Border looks good all year round.

‘I wouldn’t compare myself to Great Dixter,’ she says. ‘But I hope there is a Great Dixter-esque feeling about this border.’

Be generous with your main border

One generous border along one side – a tribute to Great Dixter. Even if your garden is long and narrow (especially if it’s long and narrow!), one really good border on one side is better than two meagre ones on both sides. The pink flowers are Thalictrums ‘Black Stockings’, ‘Elin and flavum glaucum.

Break up the space

The way you break up the space in your garden is key to how spacious it looks. My mother always used to think that a room or a garden would look bigger if you had as much open space as possible, especially in the middle.

But, in fact, the opposite is true. When you break up a space, the eye pauses before moving on. It’s more of a journey, so it seems bigger.

And last year, I went on a one day garden design course with the KLC School of Design. The tutor explained that you need to think about mass (ie sheds, trees) and void (lawns, terraces) in your garden before planning which flowers to plant. There’s more about designing your garden in this video.

A garden from scratch means the veg beds can go anywhere!

Three charming veg beds cut across the garden halfway along. Behind them the back of the garden is wilder, with a still-developing rockery at the very back.

Sarah took the brave step of running the vegetable beds across the middle of the lawn. I think this is something of a growing trend, because veg beds are beautiful in themselves.

Beautiful plant supports

Don’t you love Sarah’s beautiful plant supports in the veg beds? They’re from Plant Belles.

Once again, if you start a garden from scratch, you can do what you like with your veg – you’re not constrained by where your predecessor has decided to put them.

What materials to use?

You will have to decide between brick, stone, gravel, seashells, lawn etc – and how much of each you want.

‘Lawns aren’t very fashionable these days,’ says Sarah. ‘But I think they are a good foil for plants and flowers, so I wanted open areas with lawn.’

She added a brick path down one side of the garden, to the greenhouse. She has lovely old brick walls, so has used similar style of brick for the path – in small gardens, it’s important not to introduce too many different elements or it can feel fussy.

Use a limited palette of hard landscaping materials when starting a garden from scratch

Sarah has mainly used brick for her hard landscaping, echoing the old brick shed, the traditional green house and the garden walls.

How to choose plants when creating a garden from scratch

Sarah is a great believer in ‘right plant, right place’. So she chooses sun-loving plants for her sunny border and shade-loving plants for the end of the garden.

Many perennials will plump up in just a year or so. And you can fill gaps with annuals.

Irises are a good choice for a new garden.

I love this combination of pale blue (Iris pallida subsp pallida) and dark purple irises in Sarah’s border. Irises often flower in their first year and are a good choice for a new garden. They like a sunny spot.

Sarah’s combination of annuals and perennials meant that the garden looked abundant even in its first year. We opened it for Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day just four months after it was a muddy puddle, and it was picked for the NGS in just two years.

Climbing perennials can take longer to get established, but are good investments

It takes climbers, such as roses and clematis, a bit longer to get established. Sarah’s climbing roses are probably at their best this year. This is Tea Rose ‘Sombreuil’.

A garden from scratch - reflect your own taste in accessorie

Sarah’s garden is uncluttered but there are a few pretty touches, such as this vintage railway petrol container used as a water butt.

You can see Sarah’s garden, as well as Posy Gentles’ garden (which I’ve often written about on this blog) and also 17 Norman Road when they’re open for NGS Kent on June 2nd, 10am-5pm.

Posy Gentles' garden

Garden maker Posy Gentles’ garden will also be open on June 2nd.

Norman Road garden, open for the NGS and also for Faversham Open Gardens

17 Norman Road is also open on June 2nd. All three are walled gardens.

Behind the gates of more private urban gardens:

You’ll find more Kent town gardens for ideas and inspiration in this video:

Pin for reference:

How to create a successful garden from scratch #gardening #gardendesign

The post How to start a successful garden from scratch appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/how-to-start-a-successful-garden-from-scratch/

Dense-flowered orchids


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/05/25/dense-flowered-orchids/

Podcast: Plants ARE cool

In the latest #wildflowerhour podcast, Isabel Hardman challenges Dr Jonathan Mitchley of the University of Reading to explain why plants are important and even cool. We also hear a reading from Zoe Devlin’s lovely book, Blooming Marvellous, and find out about why Dom Price from the Species Recovery Trust likes to lie down in fields and stare at ants.


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/05/25/podcast-plants-are-cool/

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 – what it means for your garden

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show or ‘Chelsea’, as it’s known in the gardening world, is our Fashion Week.

#RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 - Chris Beardshaw's beautiful garden for Morgan Stanley

Chris Beardshaw’s design for Morgan Stanley and the NSPCC – just a beautiful garden at every level with abundant planting and a calm but positive use of colour.

The celebs may dip in and out, but the trends percolate down into our gardens – it’s probably more influential than any other show in the world.

I spent yesterday morning at the Chelsea Flower Show as a roving reporter for BBC Radio Kent’s excellent Sunday Gardening programme. Exhibitors were still putting the last minute touches to their stands, and the garden designers were anxiously tweaking their creations.

BBC Radio Kent Sunday Gardening at RHS Chelsea 2018

The BBC Radio Kent Sunday Gardening team, from left: me, Phil Harrison, Jane Streitfeild of the NGS, Steve Bradley and Louise, who kept us all organised.

Supershoes Laced with Hope Garden

Designer Laura Anstiss putting the finishing touches on the Supershoes Laced With Hope garden with Frosts.

Spirit of Cornwall garden at RHS Chelsea 2018

One of the puzzling things about going round while it’s still being constructed is knowing what’s meant to be in the garden and what isn’t. This ladder does look rather wonderful here. But it disappeared later so presumably not…in the VTB Spirit of Cornwall garden by Charles Stuart Towner.

Then I went round the show again to see what I think is going to be big in ‘ordinary’ gardens over the next few years.

Garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes

Paul Hervey-Brookes titivating the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden.

All very different at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

There is a definite wind of change blowing through the gardening world, judging by this year’s RHS Chelsea

The grasses and structured hedging of the past few years has almost completely been swept away.

Instead there are huge beds full of flowers and colour.

Vivid colour at the David Harber and Savills garden at RHS Chelsea

The David Harber and Savills Garden by Nic Howard

Supershoes Laced with Hope garden

While I don’t normally want to see graffiti in gardens, I loved this garden for Supershoes Laced With Hope.

Yellow is an emerging garden colour

At Capel Manor College, their display is called 50 Shades of Gold. I spoke to one of their designers who said ‘A few years ago, I’d never have considered using yellow in a garden.’ Their display is a celebration of yellow flowers of all kinds across all seasons.

And I spotted yellow in a number of other gardens, too, including Sarah Price’s garden for Morgan Stanley.

Yellow in the Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden

The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden, with yellow oilseed rape (!) in the foreground. All our mothers would be scandalised.

Yellow in the beautifully abundant 'Stihl Inspiration' garden

Lilac and yellow in the beautifully abundant Hillier ‘Stihl Inspiration’ garden.

Yellow in the LG Eco-city garden

Yellow in the gorgeous LG Eco-city garden by Hay-Joung Wang

The free-standing arch

Taking that show gardens are a very pampered version of small town gardens, it’s interesting to see how many feature a free-standing arch. Adding height halfway along a small garden gives it a sense of proportion and gives the eye somewhere to pause, thus making the garden feel larger.

Japanese garden arch

The exquisite ‘Hospitality Garden’ for G-Lion by Kazuyuki Ishihara. Love that moss!

Urban Flow garden by Tony Woods

This arch in the Urban Flow Garden by Tony Woods of Gardenclublondon is made of a specially fired porcelain so it doesn’t need any maintenance and lasts forever.

Eucalyptus and logs arch

I rather like this arrangement of logs, arch and eucalyptus – sorry, can’t remember who’s it is, let me know if you do.

Corten steel

Beautifully textured corten steel has been around for a few years, but at RHS Chelsea 2018 it is big, big, big.

Corten steel at Hillier

Water feature with corten steel in the Stihl Inspiration garden for Hillier.

Corten steel screens

Corten steel screens for Stihl Inspiration, Hillier at RHS Chelsea

Corten steel pots at Capel Manor College

Pots of corten steel at Capel Manor College.

More on video:

Pop over to the Middlesized Garden YouTube channel to see more:

If you’ve watched RHS Chelsea 2018 or been to the show, what did you pick up as a trend? What was your favourite garden or new product? Let me know in the comments below or on social media – Twitter is @midsizegarden and Facebook is The Middlesized Garden.

Thank you!

Pin for reference:

New trends from the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show #gardening


The post The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 – what it means for your garden appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/the-rhs-chelsea-flower-show-2018-what-it-means-for-your-garden/

Orchids, Orchids, Orchids

Every Wednesday, the wonderful Jon Dunn posts about another orchid on our Instagram feed. His latest, on the Man Orchid, is below. But while we’ve got you here, you should know that our orchids feed is blooming right now. If you want to know just how amazing the native orchids of Britain and Ireland actually are, or get inspiration on where to find them, head read over to that page now, save the Twitter collection and look at it every single day. Or at least plan to check in with it every so often.


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/05/16/orchids-orchids-orchids-8/