Check out the garden transformation that took place in this week's episode!
For this episode, we were up north in Salford creating a garden for 87-year-old identical twins Betty and Rita. Betty and Rita are a huge part of their local community and have been raising money for their local cathedral for over thirty years. Their total currently stands at over £30,000! To thank them for all their tireless hard work, their friends and family thought it was about time they had something nice done for them and asked us to transform their garden.
I was asked by Alan to create an area of the garden that reminded the sisters of their holidays to Lourdes in France. The twins visit every two years on a pilgrimage, they love this part of the world and visiting the site that is so important to their faith. I had no idea how on earth I was going to create something inspired by Lourdes but after lots of chin rubbing, Googling and experimenting with the materials I had around me, I managed to produce something that both Betty and Rita seemed thrilled with.
I was also given a new area of lawn to lay and some planting that both tied in with Dave’s borders yet still had a personality of its own. Small gardens are always the ones that catch us out – just when we think we’re on top of them, time runs away and there is always a mad rush to finish. This was no exception!
The planting was very ‘cottage garden’ – very soft and pretty, using pastel colours and lots of flowers. See below the plants we used.
Vibernum opulus is a great shrub with huge balls of white flowers. However it does flower early in the year, so leave some room in front of it to plant something that flowers later in the year. This will give you two hits of interest.
Hydrangeas are a cottage garden staple, and their big blooms are loved by many. However they can grow really big, so place somewhere they have the room to reach their full potential.
Buxus gives reliable evergreen form and can be clipped into any shape you desire. A great foil for other plants.
Ornamental pear is a lovely tree for a small garden. Its silvery foliage can be picked up with other plants like Stachys and cardoon to carry the theme through your scheme.
Polemonium has such delicate star shaped flowers, it’s best to plant in groups of three or more for bigger impact as it can tend to get a little lost on its own.
Bearded irises need to be planted with the rhizome, or root, just above the soil. This is because the rhizome needs to be baked by the sun in order for the flowers to form and grow.
Scabious are loved by pollinators and will always bring the bees and butterflies to the garden. Plant towards the front of a border for maximum enjoyment, they look lovely and natural when threaded though a planting scheme.
Aquilegia are a must in any cottage style planting. They do like to self-seed though, so should you not want them growing everywhere make sure you remove the flower heads before they drop their seeds in late summer.
Euphorbia comes in many different varieties, all of which provide great early colour in the garden. They also all have poisonous sap so be careful when handling them or cutting back.
Roses – I love a scented rose whether it be climbing, rambling, shrub or hybrid tea. Pick one (or three) that you love the most! Watch my simple video guide to pruning your roses here.
Dicentra – this lovely little plant likes the shade and will give you pretty flowers early in the year. It will also tolerate a container and needs very little maintenance.
Clematis look fab planted just about anywhere, but do your research as the flowers can vary hugely, from dainty hanging bonnets to flowers the size of a dinner plate. Pick one that works for the space you want it to grow in.
Lavender – Give it lots of sunshine and free draining soil and you will be rewarded with a plant that flowers for months, is semi evergreen and needs very little in the way of looking after.
Auriculas can be a little tricksy! Do your research and choose your varieties carefully. They like cool conditions and regular maintenance. When you get the hang of them they can look super pretty in a display such as an Auricula theatre like the one Frances did on the show.
Syinga (Lilac) have sweet smelling panicles of flowers in late Spring. They are tolerant of a wide range of conditions and don’t mind being pruned back hard should they become unruly. However, be aware that once you cut them back it will encourage suckers to grow from the base of the plant and these can be difficult to keep on top of.
Euonymus is an easy evergreen shrub that will grow in both a border and also as a climber up walls and fences. The variegated foliage varieties are some of the most popular.
Ceanothus flowers in late spring, it has a beautiful blue flower and its evergreen! It can suffer in very cold winters, and it’s not a fan of being covered in snow for any long periods – but then who is?
Dianthus are highly fragranced, yet with exception of some of the alpine varieties often get a bit of a reputation of being old fashioned. However, we know that Betty and Rita love them, so in they went!
Allium – I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t like an allium. They look great pretty much anywhere! They don’t like soil that is too damp though and they will lean towards the light – so if you want alliums that stand to attention plant them somewhere sunny, open and with free draining soil.