This little compact shrub has almost woolly aromatic foliage, and I've just planted this to form a low hedge/edging plant in a gravel border. The soil is sandy with a little soil improver mixed in for a moderately fertile but well-drained environment that Santolinas prefer.
Santolina chamaecyparissus, known as cotton lavender, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is native to the western and central Mediterranean, so it does like a sunny position and will be drought tolerant once established.
At this time of year it has lovely small and cheerful button-like flowers in bright yellow, contrasting beautifully with the purple hues of the Lavender and Nepeta.
Today I paid a visit to a front garden I designed last summer - transforming a square patch of lawn into a swirling mix of grasses and perennials. It's a brave move for a client to replace an existing lawn with something more adventurous, but I am lucky that she is a keen gardener and so we went for it!
One year on and all the watering, weeding, mulching, dead-heading, staking and feeding... and sweeping... has paid off and the garden is bursting with joy and humming with insects. There's still space for parking the car, but it proves front gardens don't have to be square and green.
There are some formal elements, such as evergreen shrubs, low clipped hedges and simple linear geometry of the hard landscaping to see it through the winter months and give a sense of arrival to the front door.
The key bit of maintenance today was the Stipa tenuissima grass which had flopped under the weight of its seedheads. A bit of comb through its 'pony tails' with my fingers and it was soon billowing again!
There was lots to take in at this year's show - newly named and festival themed. With walk-through gardens, including the re-imagined version of the RHS Back to Nature garden co-designed by HRH The Duchess Cambridge and landscape architects Andree Davies and Adam White.
Other walk through gardens included the Viking Cruises Lagom Garden and the Thames Water Flourishing Future Garden where we could get a good look at the planting and a top-up of 'Thames' water in our non-plastic bottles.
A particular favourite garden was the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) A Place to Meet, designed by Cherry Carmen and built by 18 different APL member companies. There was some beautiful planting on display here contrasting with superb hard landscaping - the plunge pool looked especially inviting in the festival heat.
Summer is here and although it's been a month full of showers, it's now time to get out into your garden and enjoy the long evenings.
The evenings are a good time, with a cool drink in hand, to get out and do a spot of dead-heading. Nothing too strenuous, just half an hour or so of removing any spent flowers on your roses, geraniums, geums and hanging basket flowers will encourage repeat flowering – and keep things looking smart.
Whilst there are plenty of clearing up jobs to do around the garden at this time of year, there is nothing like planting bulbs to bring joyful anticipation of springtime cheer.
Whilst spring flowering bulbs have While spring flowering bulbs have been available to buy since the end of August, November is the ideal time to plant tulip bulbs. This prevents problems with tulip fire disease, a soil-borne fungus that can develop in the lingering warmth of Autumn. By planting closer to Christmas soils are too cold for the fungus to spread.
As a general rule plant the bulb about three times its own depth and a good two bulb widths apart. Plant as many as you can, and for the best effects plant two or three different varieties. For a bit of drama try a mix of purple and white, such as: 'Shirley’, 'Negrita' and 'Bleu Aimable'.
Tulips can also be grown in containers and will create focal points throughout the Spring garden and provide a welcome touch of colour to the patio or entryways. For maximum impact, I prefer to plant one variety of bulb per container, but remember to water them, otherwise the flowers will never reach their full potential...and don’t forget to plant them the right way up!
July and August
Sumer is well and truly here and it’s now the time to get out into your garden and enjoy the long evenings.
The evenings are a good time, glass in hand, to get out and do a spot of dead-heading.
Half an hour or so of removing any spent flowers on your roses, dahlias, geraniums and hanging basket flowers will encourage repeat flowering – and keep things looking smart.
Time to get planting
You may not need a list of what to do in the garden this month – because it is staring at you in the face! Don’t panic the season is just beginning, but its important on keeping on top of maintenance and with little chance of frost, it’s time to start planting.
May is the very best month for planting your chosen grasses. These plants only grow new roots in late spring and early summer,
There are many types of ornamental grasses to choose from, from the compact tufted varieties to lofty elegant grasses. And whether your garden can provide shady areas or full sun, there is plenty of choice available.
With summer just around the corner…
April is an exciting month, as the garden slowly start to come to life. Here is what you could do in the garden this month.
Get outside with a good clean pair of secateurs and start pruning your shrubs.
Shrubs, hedges and trees should be pruned before the birds begin to take nest, so keep a watch out for our feathered friends.
Remove any foliage from any overgrown evergreen shrubs from the base and also prune your summer-flowering shrubs, such as hydrangeas. By cutting off any dead or damaged wood and greenery will help encourage new healthy growth.
The lovely Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' (above) makes a lovely feature in a partially shady border and their faded flower heads are good in dried flower arrangements or left on the plant over winter. Remove faded flowerheads in spring after the danger of frosts, cutting back the flowered stems to a strong pair of buds. Take out misplaced or diseased shoots.