Seeing in our sixth year in style!
Yay! Episode one and back with the gang! I really miss them all over the winter, so the first day back is always so exciting!
This is our sixth year of making Love Your Garden (no, I can’t believe it either!) so we’re old hands and quickly got back into the swing of things. As usual we took over most of the street including all the neighbours’ gardens and driveways with plants, hard landscaping materials, portaloos, and the all-important tea station!
This week, we created a garden for Mark and his family. Mark lost three limbs when he stepped on an IED whilst serving in Afganistan, but despite this life changing experience he is one of the most positive people I have ever met and is now training in the hope he will be chosen to compete in the Invictus Games – amazing or what?! We really hope he makes the team, and will all be cheering for him! We were all hugely touched and inspired by Mark’s story and his incredible outlook on life and his situation. Meeting Mark and his family made us determined to create a garden specifically for the needs of the family. It had to be accessible, low maintenance and be a space that the whole family could enjoy.
Alan gave me three areas to transform. The first was the hot tub area which was pretty grim. Mark really needed the hot tub to aid his recovery but I can’t blame him for not wanting to spend any time in it, especially as it had no shelter from the elements. This was my first priority. I decided it needed to feel like part of the house, almost a room outside, so with some lovely composite cladding, a new deck and some fancy awning I transformed the space into his own private spa!
I also did a great ‘make’ with the kids. I loved the Stone Cacti – see the images below on how to make them, it was super easy and straight forward, and it’s always nice to have the children contribute – even if they did cover me in green paint!
Last up was some planting to disguise the ramp that led from the back door and into the garden. Which I just about managed given that Dave nicked all the best plants! Typical.
By the time we had all finished the garden looked fantastic! I hope they loved it as much as we enjoyed making it.
Here’s a list of the plants we used:
Phyllostachys nigra – A great clumping bamboo perfect for giving shelter and privacy.
Yucca – These always lend themselves well to a contemporary scheme: their dramatic form is striking and they need very little looking after when planted in the right spot.
Azalea – These give a real pop of bright colour early in the year and many varieties take up little space and have lovely autumn colour.
Epimedium – A little gem of a plant that loves the shade. It has a delicate flower and is good for ground cover once established.
Trachelospermum jasminoides – Woody evergreen climber with clusters of fragrant white flowers. Turns a lovely bronzy colour in the Autumn. Likes a warm sunny spot.
Ferns in var – Often overlooked, these are brilliant plants for shade and provide both texture and ground cover. Very little maintenance needed if their requirements are met.
Phormium tenax – Another easy care plant, Phormiums have a wonderful shape and can get very big, so choose where you plant them wisely and check the mature height and spread of the variety you choose. They like a sunnier position and are evergreen.
Loquat – Evergreen shrubs or trees with small white flowers. They like well drained soil and sunshine.
Camellia – Huge blooms of red, white or pink. There is nothing shy and retiring about a healthy Camellia. They also have such nice glossy foliage, that reflects the light in a semi shaded border. They do need acidic soil conditions so be aware of this before you buy one.
Dicentra – Are a lovely addition in early spring and will tolerate shade. I like the white flowering varieties, they brighten a corner and have lovely arching stems and delicate foliage.
Washingtonia – Palms are always a great statement in a garden, with their huge leaves and exotic sillhouettes they look fantastic in a modern planting scheme and always create a dramatic focal point. Make sure you choose one that will tolerate the winter temperatures in your area.
Sempervivens – These were planted in frames to decorate the back of the house, they looked soooo effective! They need watering every few weeks, but otherwise are fuss free. I love succulents – check out my blog on some fun projects with them here.
Dicksonia antartica – I absolutely love these prehistoric plants but unfortunately they do not like the north of England very much! Fortunately for Mark, he was in Plymouth so we could plant one and not worry as to whether it would survive the winter. Should you want to plant one somewhere that has harsh winters, it will need protecting with horticultural fleece when the temperatures start to drop.
Fothergilla – Are not the most commonly used shrub in a garden however they have so much to offer. Firstly they don’t get too big, but they also have an amazing flower and vivid autumn colour. What’s not to love about a Fothergilla!
Zantedeschia – Arum lilly like moist soil and sun or partial shade. Mulch in the autumn with compost or well rotted manure to protect the crown over winter.
Heuchera – Come in so many different varieties! Choose ones that will go with you colour scheme. They will tolerate semi shade, are evergreen and look fantastic in pots.
Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ – This plant flowers for months! Has lovely purple flowers and is extremely low maintenance. They may be regarded as old fashioned, but I think they’re fantastic.
Aloe vera – An evergreen perennial which is happy to grow outside in the UK over the summer months, but it’s best to take it indoors over the winter. Likes lot of sun and free draining soil.