This week we had the pleasure of making a garden for the lovely Gina Constable, an incredible and unstoppable fund raiser for the Midlands Air Ambulance service. In the past 25 years she has raised £300,000!!! Gina’s late husband Tony had a dream to transform their garden into a peaceful sanctuary, so ten years after he passed away we finally made that dream come true.
Alan wanted us to keep a strong Japanese theme throughout the whole space and gave me the responsibility of creating a dry river bed. He told me they were one of his specialisms – so no pressure for me then! I also created a mosaic with paddle stones that I was particularly pleased with – it was so simple to do and looked effective! I urge you to have a go yourself if you have a spare couple of hours in the garden one afternoon.
Having visited Japan on my honeymoon last year and being so inspired by the gardens I saw out there, I was super excited about creating this garden. It looked fantastic when it was finished! Here is a list of some of the plants we used.
Cornus kousa: An amazing statement plant with wonderful white bracts. The branches grow in tiers giving it its common name, ‘wedding cake tree’. It looks its best when planted in full sun and in moisture retentive soil.
Ilex Crenata: Can be clipped and used for topiary just as Buxus sempervirens is – it has a tiny white flower which hoverflies adore! Our specimen was cloud clipped and magnificent… a real centrepiece for the garden. They aren’t cheap, but I think they are totally worth the cost!
Hackonechloa macra: Japanese forest grass is wonderful for lining a pathway or placing near boulders that need softening with foliage. It has a lovely form which spills and ripples in the breeze. It’s easy to look after and has great autumn colour.
Acers: It simply would not be a Japanese garden without the addition of these! They come in so many different sizes and foliage types. Choose a type you love and shelter them from strong winds.
Japanese holly fern is one of my favourite ferns. It has deeply cut foliage and its evergreen.
Hydrangeas in white where used in several places within the garden – the white flowering varieties worked well with all the different foliage types.
Pinus mungo is a super plant and often underused. It has a low bushy spreading form.
Astilbe prefers a damp spot but will tolerate drier conditions. It has great foliage and looks natural at the sides of a stream. They come in various shades of pink, white and red.
Japanese blood grass: Easy to look after, however it can take a while to really show its true colours. Come late summer it can be a real show stopper in a border as well as looking good in a pot.
Bamboo was used in various forms throughout the garden. We always use clumping varieties on the show as they are the easiest to manage in a domestic garden. If you are unsure when you are buying, then ask a member of staff at the retail outlet or research the variety you like online.
Japanese poppies are so pretty! They have lovely lemon flowers and look their best planted in small groups to really show off their delicately cut foliage.
Prunus trees come in a huge range of sizes. Pick one which is suitable for the space you have. They are all gorgeous and have the most amazing blossom in spring. Picking one isn’t easy, but I especially like the dwarf varieties.