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June 17

Top 10 Planting combinations

Created by Anna Kapuvari

Creating a flower border is very similar to painting a wonderful impressionist picture – but this time we are using living colours! There is nothing more rewarding than establishing a habitat for our beloved plants, where the diverse selection of perennials can enhance each other, inviting wildlife into our garden from buzzing bees through subtle butterflies  to singing little birds.

  1. Tall Perennials

    If you really want to shine, you must stand out – this was probably the motivation for some of the stunning perennials like Digitalis and Acanthus. A really eye-catching spiky flower can make all the difference colour-wise – their flowering period is usually quite short, so make sure you even them out thorough the seasons. Using bulbs, like purple Alliums is also a good use of space in a border.

  2. Purple, white, pink – a classic combo

    Purple and white is one of the most commonly used colour combinations in a border – it is subtle yet powerful, and very pleasing to the eye. Adding some extra tones, like pinks or light blues will make it even more harmonious.

  3. Plants with the same flowering time

    This where you can really shine in planting design: make sure you choose the right colour next to each other if the plants have the same flowering period. Astrantias with Sisyrinchiums, Campanulas with Alchemillas, Echinaceas with Salvias – and the list goes on. Create your own favourite combinations, and mix up the flower shapes as well.

  4. Using wild plants

    Most garden favourites were created from their wild species. Using some of the native meadow or forest perennials can be really rewarding, as they tend to be very reliable, but moving around in your border quite a lot by self- seeding. Boragos, wild geraniums, chamomiles and forget-me-knots are all nice little additions to a border.

  5. Similar colours next to each other

    If you like a colour very much, and would like to highlight it in your border, make sure you have many different species with the same colour tones to always have it in your border. For example once the Centranthus ruber starts to set seeds, a similar coloured species,  called Penstemon ‘Garnet’ opens its beautiful bell-shaped flowering, thus adding the same tones with a little time overlap into the mix.

  6. Same species – different varieties

    Many garden cultivars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – mixing them up in your border will give a unique collector’s vibe into your garden. Some people like creating a palette garden as well – for example showcasing all different varieties of Salvias; like the below example of Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ with Salvia ‘Caradonna’.

  7. Set a feature point

    Some plants are just born-to-be divas, like the silvery globe artichoke: Cynara cardunculus. A big block of feature plant will give a rest to the human eye, creating a natural focal point. You can also use some evergreen shurbs to breakup the pattern of a cottage style border.

  8. Trailers and Spikes

    Every border needs both vertical and horizontal interest: spiky or tall flowers will always give structural elements into your border, while trailers and other bushy perennials soften the overall look. Plant trailers at the edge of a raised bed as well to hide some parts of the hard landscaping.

  9. Mix up shades and shapes

    If you only want to use one colour, make sure you mix up the shades but also the leaf shapes as well to create an interesting mix. The human can recognize more shades of green than any other colour, so even if you only have greenery can make something unique and exciting.

  10. Complementary colours

    If you would like to create something vibrant, just stick to the basics: use colours opposite each other on the colourwheel. Purple with yellow is one of the most commonly used:  plant some shades of purple plants with a few drops of yellow in a border.

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June 1

Top 10 Smart Designs for Small Spaces

Created by Anna Kapuvari

London gardens can be challenging sometimes regarding the available space. But with the right design, smart choice of materials and special features, you can create a harmonious layout even in a petite courtyard. Have a look through our top 10 design ideas for inspiration.

  1. Level changes and raised beds

    Create a dynamic layout by creating several layers vertically, thus making your raised beds more interesting. Small details are highly visible in a small space, so even a raised bed edging can be interesting.

  2. Bespoke benches

    Nothing says relaxation louder in a garden than a well-designed bench with cushions. If you have a small garden, but like to have friends around, make sure you go for the bench option instead of chairs as it can accommodate more people. Having them built-in a raised bed can make them even more interesting as you can create a green backdrop, or you can plant up your raised bed with scented culinary herbs.

  3. Lighting

    Uplights under a tree, or fairy lights on a pergola can make all the difference, when you are trying to create an atmospheric setting. If you are busy during the day, and mostly using you garden in the evening, make sure you play with light installations.

  4. Views and mirrors

    When it comes to optically enlarge your space, mirrors are the best solution. Make sure you position them in a place where they can reflect a nice view, or extra light, for example afternoon sunshine reflection. Frames can be also useful when you have an undesirable view, but would like to show off only the nice parts.

  5. Interlocking shapes

    This is very important in a small space: too many materials or too many shapes may cause a crowded, messy layout. Keep the shapes simple, and mirror them in an other feature, for example use a round table for a circle patio. You can also reinforce the main shapes in the garden with atmospheric lighting.

  6. Multiple purpose features

    Most gardens have users from many age groups. Maybe you have kids who like to play in the garden, while you would like a space for just relaxation. Mix up the two purpose, and create something for everyone to enjoy. This daybed below functions as a cool hangout for adults at the bottom, while the top can be climbed and explored by kids.

  7. Portable furniture

    Still the easiest way to create a dynamic space with many purpose if you use portable furniture: lounge chairs, small fire pits, coffee tables can be easily stored away in a small shed depending on what you feel like doing.

  8. Vertical space

    If you only have a small courtyard garden, but have many needs, make sure you use all the space available – even the air. If you have a small pergola, you can hang pots, hammocks, swings and lights on the beams, thus making a multipurpose, highly creative space.

  9. Keep it simple

    A general rule in small space design is to keep the layout simple but mix up the materials. This way, we show a versatile side of the garden, with different surfaces, uses and atmosphere.

  10. Small gardens = small details

    Make sure you create something unique even in a small garden: an edging detail in the paving, a small hidden sculpture, a view hole in the trellis work or a small water feature. Anything to make your garden stand out and show its best.

 

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April 27

Top 10 Screening Options

Created by Anna Kapuvari

There can be many reasons why we would like to cover undesirable view in our gardens – but the available space sometimes ties our hands what we can do. Here are some ideas how to screen of sections based on how much space you have in your garden and what materials would you prefer.

  1. Bamboo


    One of the simplest and most sound proof living screens if you have the space for them. There are many different varieties from clump forming to spreading habits, yellow, green and black stems. The leaves have a lovely sizzling sound even in the smallest wind. It is also decorative with up- lighting.

  2. Mirrors

    If you do not have much space but would like to make your screening interesting or even enlarge the space in your garden visually, mirrors are the perfect choice. You can cover whole wall sections with a sheet of plastic mirror, or use a decorative mirror to hang on your fence.

  3. Decorative wooden panels

    In a small garden, sometimes the best option is to use wooden paneling to screen off the neighbours. You can make it more decorative if you mix up the materials and only use a section of the screen.

  4. Multistem trees


    Crab apples, Amelanchiers, birches are all very decorative trees, and getting multistem varieties can make a very nice loose screen if you have a large space for them.

  5. Light pergola structure

    Sometimes the best way to screen of the rear end of your garden is to use it as an outdoor space. Like this light and funky pergola with rolled out bamboo screens.

  6. Horizontal battens

    One of the designer’s favourite – this will never go out of style. There are many ways you can spice it up: by adding some evergreen climbing jasmines for greenery and scent or by cutting out viewing windows if you are screening on a rooftop terrace.

  7. Rolled out bamboo screen

    If there is no space, you can still cover ugly fencing and messy areas with bamboo screens. You can roll it our both horizontally and vertically. If you have space, standard trees planted in front of the screen will help soften the pattern.

  8. Square trellis

    Another designer’s favourite – a material you can play with and mix up with other features, such as water chutes, climbers and fairy lights. You can also cut out circles to show a nice view to your garden.

  9. Standard trees

    For a contemporary effect, the best standard screen available is the Prunus lusitanica ‘Angustifolia’ – the Portuguese laurel. It is an evergreen variety with a columnar habit and scented cream colour flowers. If you are after a looser canopy, choose a row of white stemmed birches, which will go well with a cottage style garden.

  10. Hedging

    If you need cover from the street, noise, dust or wind, the best is still to plant a hedge, preferably an evergreen variety so you do not have to clear so much leaves. Yews are perfect if you like their dark green colours. Griselinia, Pittosporum and Euonymus are other broad- leaved species that you can choose from. Hedging can also mean a low- level screen, for example to cover undesirable view in a roof terrace. If you only have containers available, choose Mediterranean herbs like Lavender, Rosemary or Santolina.

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April 17

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July 12

Top 10 Storage units and bin sheds

Created by Anna Kapuvari

We all suffer from shortage of storage spaces especially in some front gardens. Creating a tidy garden starts with an appropriate- sized shed.Here are a few cleverly constructed examples of bin stores and storage units.

  1. Cedar bin shed

    Nothing fancy, just a simple IPE  hardwood structure with shelves inside, flushed with the existing yew hedging. Creates a simple but smart layout, and can store up to 4 bins.

  2. IPE hardwood bin store with planting on top

    Would you like to get rid off the smell of bin areas? Best is to mask the odors with some aromatic Mediterranean herbs planted on top.

  3. Tall shed for garden tools

    Cedar clapboard shed with cedar shingle roof – a simple structure designed to fit all your gardening tolls vertically: fork, spades, lawnmower, and separate shelf for smaller tools.

  4. Spacious bin storage for wheelie bins

    If you have the space, and if you have much to store, shed sizes can go up. A tall and comfortable structure will help you to take out your bins with no effort.

  5. The absolute rustic

    You do not have a big space, only a little path to walk in? No problem with this long and narrow storage unit in a front garden using all rustic reclaimed materials.

  6. Softwood shed

    You don’t need a huge store, but would like to put your chairs in a cupboard when its raining? Use something similar to this light softwood shed to match the colourful cottage planting around.

  7. Reclaimed wood and planting on top

    Reclaimed pinewood bin store unit with 3 storage spaces. The planting on top continues the cottage style planting that of the front garden, with aromatic herbs to cover unpleasant smells.

  8. Shed combined with pergola

    Cedar structure connected to the pergola above.  A nice narrow structure, ideal for storing garden tools and table settings for the little coffee table and chairs.

  9. Seat storage

    If you do not have the space for a shed, still can use the available space under seating for a hidden creative storage unit.

  10. The ultimate fit

    Even in the oddest spaces, we can create a shed that will suit your bins, and en-light the structure with some planting on top.

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June 28

Top 10 plants for cottage style borders

Created by Anna Kapuvari

Cottage style is one of the most rewarding planting for both gardeners and garden owners: their everlasting beauty not just pleasing the eye, but give shelter and food sources to many living creatures, inviting bees and butterflies to pollinate your entire garden. Selecting the best species are therefore crucial  for all year around seasonal interest. Here is our selection of the best plants for a cottage style border.

  1. Geraniums

    If you need a reliable groundcover and border edging plant, Geraniums will your safest bet. They come in many colours, especially in the range of pinks, blues and whites. Once they start flowering, they are hard to stop, creating a nicely shaped dome of colours at the edge of your borders.

  2. Alliums

    A magnificent bulb that will pop up late spring to mid summer, creating a fantastic architectural effect in your border. They mostly come in lilacs, pinks and whites, and their size vary from chives to the Globemaster. Make sure to leave them on as they start to dry out so they will come back next year as well.

  3. Sisyrinchium striatum

    If you need a subtle yellow vertical interest, the pale yellow-eyed grass is your plant. Most people will go for a purple-white border theme, but adding a bit of yellow next to a purple theme is always a good idea, as these two will contrast each other, and make each other’s colours more vibrant.

  4. Astrantias

    Another reliable group with a prolonged flowering period – especially if deadheaded. They come in all kinds of colours, and will like it even in the part-shade, making them a perfect transition plant from sunny to shady.

  5. Foeniculum vulgare

    Fennel is a tasty culinary herb, which also gives great structural height to your border – reaching about 2 meters when in flower. Their subtle leaves give a soft backdrop to other colourful perennials. You can also get them in bronze colour, which makes it even more interesting when you create a copper-themed planting design.

  6. Stipa tenuissima

    We cannot really make a cottage style border without using some ornamental grasses – and the best choice is the Mexican feather grass. There is no other grass that can create this almost poetic effect of their soft leaves dancing in the wind – it is a great backdrop mixed in with any planting style.

  7. Campanula glomerata

    A great plant in the middle part of the border – it doesn’t get as tall as Verbenas and Agastaches, but would cover most plants at the edge. The Campanula g. ‘Alba’ will give a dramatic bubble of white petals, making it a perfect companion to red roses and other vibrant coloured perennials.

  8. Cynara cardunculus

    Another culinary plant that will spice up your border: the globe artichoke. It can reach about 2.5 meters with the flowering stem, so it is better to put it at the rear of the border, giving it enough space to mature. Its silver foliage will be a prefect backdrop to purple plants, and its structure it will definitely give some architecture to your border.

  9. Aquilegias

    A very reliable group of plants, which comes in all the colour in the world. It will self-seed readily, but the seedcaps are quite nice being left to dry out for the winter time. They also like shade, so can be used as a transition plant from the sunny parts towards the shady areas.

  10. Hydrangeas

    Last but not least, you should note, that there is no cottage style garden without roses and hydrangeas. These deciduous shrubs will bring so much joy during their flowering time, that they usually steal the show from other plants: choose a mixture of them to ensure a prolonged flowering time. Mop-heads, lace-caps and paniculate flower heads are all welcome, and they come in various sizes and colours.

 

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April 12

Top 10 everlasting perennials

Created by Anna Kapuvari

Having colourful flowers is one of the best thing in creating gardens – living colours popping up in your borders and inviting bees and butterflies to your garden. Our selection consists of the most flower-full ones which will give you a prolonged colour interest whether they are planted in a border or in a container.

  1. Libertia grandiflora

    An endemic plant species form New-Zealand, which perfectly adopted the conditions in the UK, especially in London. A clump forming grass-like perennial with tall white flowers followed by berries which will stay on all winter. Requires a sunny sheltered location for it to best survive if frost occurs.

  2. Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’

    An all-time favourite, this plant will spice up any garden location with its spiky purple flowers. This Balkan clary will keep on erecting new flowers if deadheaded continuously, and positioned in a sunny location. It can also tolerate part-shade but will be less vigorous.

  3. Agapanthus africanus

    The African lily is a summer flowering perennial, but the leaves stay on all year around. It prefers acid soil conditions and full sun – it will survive in the shade but will not erect any flowers.

  4. Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’

    One of our favourite wallflowers, this plant will flower pretty much all year around if you keep cutting back the dead flower heads. It is a bushy evergreen plant with a wooden base, which will require full sun for the abundance of its flowers. It is perfectly suitable for roof top containers.

  5. Centranthus ruber




    The red valerian is a Mediterranean species with slightly fragrant flowers. It is semi- evergreen with a wooden base, and will self-seed freely in your garden, if you let it. To avoid it being invasive, cut back the flower-head in late July before they set seeds.

  6. Geranium ‘Rozanne’

    One of the best trailing plants in a garden – perfect for reclaimed brick or timber raised beds. It is a vigorously spreading perennial with violet-blue flowers with a long flowering period – between early summer to late autumn. It survives most soil conditions and even flowers in part-shade.

  7. Verbena bonariensis

    The Argentinian vervain is one the tallest perennials in a garden that you can get: exceeding at 2.5 meters. Its purple clusters of flowers are highly liked by bees, but you can only enjoy them if you can this vigorous perennial back each year to the ground, and keep on deadheading it as well.

  8. Alchemilla mollis

    Another amazing trailing and ground cover plant which is perfect for raised beds. The lady’s mantle bears slightly hairy, soft-green leaves which is its best feature, as it has dewetting properties and keeps on the water beads like tiny pearls. It also has light yellow flowers during the summer.

  9. Nepeta x faassenii

    This garden cat mint will not make your or your neighbour’s cats crazy – it is not the true cat mint, although it has nice aromatic silver-green leaves. The violet flowers appear during the Summer, and if kept deadheaded will stay on until late Autumn.

  10. Erigeron karvinskianus

    Our last but not least member of this top 10 list is perennial flowering from Spring till Late Autumn – a perfect trailer and sunny ground cover that will survive in any little soil. The Mexican fleabane has daisy-lie white flower heads and will form a continuous mat during its growing season. It prefers full sun, and cannot survive in clay soil condition.

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January 18

Top 10 Benches in gardens

Created by Anna Kapuvari

rylett-road-38

Most of us will agree that one of the best things about gardens is relaxation. Nothing better than sitting down in the sun with a magazine, watching our flower display in our borders or chatting with our friends. As gardeners say it: watch the grass grow. Here is our fine selection of garden seating areas.

  1. Oak bench to tie in with the oak decking
    1_Oak bench (1)A harmony in materials for a small garden, so we do not use too many different textures. The back of the bench is a reclaimed brick retaining wall which helps framing the benches by box balls and ferns.

    1_Oak bench (2)

  2. Softwood sleeper benchesStepping stones through the lawn are leading to the seating area, where the benches are under planted with ferns to soften the shapes.
    The backdrop is a dense evergreen scented jasmine cover.

    2_Softwood sleeper benches

  3. Bench for lounging and entertaining3_Bench for lounging and entertaining
    A place for entertainment, eating, drinking. The benches are made of hardwood decking boards and timber posts with wires for climbers.
  4. Hidden bench
    Framed by Geranium ‘Rozanne’, scented jasmine and blue Agapanthus, this reclaimed bench is a perfect place for relaxation in the sun. Made of reclaimed bricks and reused sleepers.
    4_Hidden bench
  5. Decked topping with rendered look
    5_Decked topping with rendered look
    A contemporary example, where the render of the walls blends with the natural York stone paving. The lid lifts for storage, useful to put away cushions.
  6. The zig- zag bench
    A floating effect with evergreen under planting. The bench is made of balau decking boards which adds to the contemporary jungle effect.
    6_The zig- zag bench
  7. Concrete bench
    7_Concrete bench (2)A hidden space at the back of the garden with a sandstone capping to tie it into the rest of the garden design. A little space for meditating by the water feature and hear the flow of water, have a step back from life.

    7_Concrete bench (1)

  8. Hardwood deck boards
    The zigzag shape follows the planted beds behind, framing the green planting. The dark wood of the iroko affects nicely with the pale colour of the travertine paving. The bench is under lit, a perfect feature for a party.
    8_Hardwood deck boards
  9. Oak sleepers on rendered raised beds
    9_Oak sleepers on rendered raised beds (2)A perfect setting for an afternoon tea: aromatic herbs, ferns and Alliums planted in the raised beds around, while the pleached trees at the back give privacy for conversations.

    9_Oak sleepers on rendered raised beds (1)

  10. Simple sleeper bench
    Simple sleeper bench (1)
    A quick solution to a need for seating areas or the achieve a simple look next to our naturalistic gardens. Mirror at the back of the bench is make the garden look bigger.
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December 12

Top 10 best trees for small gardens

Created by Anna Kapuvari

Available space in London can be limited – we have to be careful when selecting trees to fit our small gardens. Here is a selection of our favourite trees that would work within a cosy little space.

  1. Olive tree
    putney-roof-2-bThis Mediterranean species can be easily grown in the London micro climate adding a special silver leaf holiday-feel to our garden. Can be used in containers where we can prune the crown into a globose shape or planted in a border where it will grow slightly taller. We need to keep an eye on it and cut back regularly to maintain the desired shape.paultons-street_maintenance-41

    putney-roof-76-b

  2. Specimen Acers
    garden-maintenance-621These trees are one of the most beloved of all: they remain small, they have a beautiful shape and their autumn leaf colour is amazing.
    The most common ones are the Acer palmatum- Japanese maple cultivars, including ‘Bloodgood’, Sango-Kaku’ and Osakazuki.rylett-road-92
  3. Multistem Juneberry trees
    hereford-95An edible fruit bearing tree that will delight you through all seasons: the smooth silver-brown branches for the Winter, the scented white flowers for Spring, tasty berries for Summer which will attract birds into the garden as well and the amazing red Autumn colour of the leaves.dewhurst-hedgecutting-43

    garden-maintenance-364

  4. Dwarf Beech treeFagus sylvatica species are endemic trees in Southern England and they naturally grown up to 35 meters. But you can have a dwarf species in your garden if you are really into this trees: Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Nana’ or Fagus sylvatica ‘Asterix’ are your best choices.img_5278
  5. Smoke tree
    img_4621One of the best trees for Autumn colour. You can buy many different cultivars for Cotinus coggygrya, the best purple varieties are the ‘Royal Purple’ and ‘Flame’. You can train them to be small trees or shrubs as well.poplar-grove-2
  6. Birch trees
    img_4686
    Not many tree can compete with the white bark of the Betula species. Even though these trees can grow quite tall, their foliage is loose and light, making it into the perfect tree when we requite some dappled shade. A row of Betula trees can create excellent rhythm and frame for a border.princess-victoria6garden-of-rooms_pot-and-birch
  7. Judas treeAnother small, Mediterranean and highly ornamental tree: Cercis siliquastrum. The flowers are the born on the old brachnes and the trunk of the tree: this botanical phenomenon is called cauliflory.img_5268
  8. Multistem Crab Apples
    randolph-ave-120
    Another multistem and edible tree that will look great in a border, especially with ornamental grasses. The crab apples will invite wildlife into the garden as the flowers need bees and butterflies to pollinate and the fruit is a favourite feed for songbirds. For human consumption they need to be cooked and sweetened, like a jelly or jam.neena-maintenance-45neena-maintenance-140
  9. Portugal LaurelThe best tree for crown screening is the Prunus lusitanica ‘Angustifolia’ – the stems are usually 1.8 m high and that’s where the foliage will start, creating perfect privacy form undesired view.
    rylett-road-38
  10. Tree ferns
    irving-road-maintenance-18-b
    A must-have for an exotic themed garden: these tree ferns are native to Eastern Australia, but will love the climate in London.
    They look especially good when under lit with decorative lights.margrit-night-14
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