Tag Archives: easy maintenance

Summer gardens – summer holidays – architectural plants that can cope without watering

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teasels in bud

teasels in bud

Most established planting, both shrubs and herbaceous perennials, should be fine without watering by you, whether you’re at home or away. This does assume that the soil is good and that the plants have been chosen correctly, shade lovers in a sunny border are not going to be happy, for example.

This isn’t a blog about drought tolerant planting (that’s another one) but some suggestions for planting that will be quite happy if you ignore it and don’t water it, don’t deadhead it but simply admire it. I was considering the idea from a ‘going on your summer holiday’ perspective, but the plants are easy maintenance once established so would of course be happy in your garden at all times of the year.

persicaria red dragon

persicaria red dragon

The term architectural planting generally describes tall, statuesque plants often seen in very contemporary gardens, although it also includes ornamental grasses, Phormiums and bamboos. People are often put off from choosing some of these plants, concerned that they may not fit into a mixed border, or might be too big for their garden. Generally speaking though, adding a ‘wow’ plant can really lift a border, giving it a new lease of life.

Architectural plants may be herbaceous perennials, annuals and shrubs as well as ornamental grasses and bamboos, and it is herbaceous perennials that I’ll be suggesting as if it’s your first foray into architectural plants you may feel reassured by the domestic familiarity of plants which die back over winter and shoot up in the summer.

acanthus mollis

acanthus mollis

The plants will work as part of cottage style planting, minimalist and contemporary gardens, many historically inspired schemes (the Victorians in particular were great Plant hunters and introduced quantities of species to Britain). They’ll also be useful in potager and ornamental kitchen gardens as pollinating insects and predator insects will be encouraged in by their flowers.

persicaria

persicaria

Persicaria are members of the knotweed or Polygonaceae family, but are now often referred to as smartweeds, rather than knotweeds to distinguish them from their invasive cousins. Persicaria like a moist or damp soil and will tolerate shade partial shade and sun, but this latter with moist soil, or it will droop and look unhappy. There are a range of varieties to choose from, with the dark pink flowered Persicaria ‘firetail’, the bronze leaved Persicaria microcephala ‘red dragon’, and the edible Vietnamese coriander, Persicaria odorata.

acanthus flower

acanthus flower

Acanthus mollis, ‘bear’s breeches’ is a wonderfully architectural herbaceous perennial that is drought tolerant, so will not notice if you’re away on your holidays and haven’t watered it. What Acanthus is not so keen on though, is being under the shade of evergreen trees, where it has to fight for its water and nutrients; it grows to a large plant and doesn’t do so well with competition. However, it will cope with being grown against a wall, so long as the soil is humus rich at root level. With its glossy green leaves and tall flower spikes Acanthus mollis suits both modern and cottage garden planting. Acanthus spinosus has similar leaves but with a spine at the tip – hence ‘spinosus’.

giant scabious in garden

giant scabious in garden

Giant scabious (Cephalaria gigantea) is a plant that is happy in the Isle of Skye, Cornwall, Greater London and all gardens in between. With large heavily dissected foliage and soft yellow flowers that are fascinating from bud stage to seed head this plant has to be a winner. Bees and pollinating insects also adore the flowers, whilst birds enjoy the seed heads. The flowers are carried on long stems and may need staking in very dry conditions, so if you’re growing it against a wall or fence where it may not benefit from rainfall, be sure to dig in lots of organic matter into the soil when first planting.

giant scabious flower

giant scabious flower

Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) is a British native species. I’ve cheated a bit as this is a bi-ennial not herbaceous perennial, but once established by sowing seed two years running you will have plants every year. As with the Giant Scabious, Teasels are a popular feeding plant for wildlife. The seed heads often last right through to the following spring, although the birds will have eaten the seed off well before then. One lovely feature of these plants is the way rain water collects in the cup like depression of the leaf where it meets the stem. Both stem and leaves are covered with prickles, so it’s a good idea not to plant too near a path or seating area.

teasel with water in stem cup

teasel with water in stem cup

When established, Giant Scabious and Teasel both have a tendency to self seed with enthusiasm but the seedlings are easily recognisable and simply removed by hand or with a dandelion trowel.

Hopefully this selection has given you some inspiration for adding a different type of plant to your garden – one which once established you can wave goodbye to when you venture on your summer holiday, knowing it will be quite happy while you’re away.

Marie Shallcross, Senior Partner, Plews Garden Design
Resolving your Gardening issues with inspirational ideas and flexible solutions

teasel flowers

teasel flowers

Sitting in the garden enjoying the sun or sitting on a cool veranda in the shade?
“In Your Summer Garden with Plews Garden Design” – the newest in our eBook series of Gardening Almanacs makes good reading wherever you are.

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Gardening tips for watering in the hot weather

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oriental poppy

oriental poppy

Many parts of Britain are basking under a summer sun; and our gardens are potentially baking under a summer sun. How do we enjoy the fine weather, keep our flowers blooming , our grass green and still have an easy maintenance garden?

We would all like to have an easy life and a beautiful garden in the hot weather. There is the option of not having any organic planting whatsoever, but I will be looking at zero planted gardens in another blog, so we’ll leave that topic for now.

The two main areas to consider for hot weather gardening are watering and drought planting. Watering your garden during a sustained hot spell or drought is  a short term response to the weather. Drought planting is a longer term design plan to reduce the maintenance requirements of your garden in hot, dry summer weather and in cold icy winter weather.

The short term – what do I do about it now? – tips for reducing the amount of watering that needs to be done in your garden during a drought period can be broken down into three types: re-think what and when you water in the garden; reduce the amount of water needed; re-use water when you can.

As most people would prefer to spend their leisure time enjoying the weather rather than watering the garden we’re concentrating on easy maintenance options.

santolina in need of watering

santolina in need of watering

Focus on the plants that need watering; this sounds obvious, but many people use limited water supplies on tending their established shrubs first and have run out by the time they reach their tomatoes! Food crops have different watering requirements. Fruit bushes and trees need watering at key times such as pollination & fruit setting. Annual food crops such as peas and tomatoes need more frequent watering as they have a shallower root system.

Flower, shrub and tree borders planted this year will need watering too as they won’t have had time to send roots deep into the soil. A thorough watering of the roots is more effective than spraying water all over the soil or plants. Not all of your new plants will need watering everyday even in prolonged hot, dry summer weather if you’re thorough in your ‘root watering’ . Check the soil at root level by gently digging down; if it’s damp then the plant doesn’t need watering.

Established plants should rarely need watering. There will be some exceptions, flowering herbaceous perennials under the shade of a tree, for example. Pot plants and annual bedding will also need watering.

Lawns – when you’re in your local park have a look at the grassy areas. They haven’t been watered. Neither do you need to water your lawn at home; the grass will recover when it rains. Set your mower to a medium rather than short cut as the longer blades of grass tolerate drought better. The only exception is where you have a recently laid turf or seeded lawn. These will need regular watering for about six weeks after installation and will require you to water them during a prolonged period without rain in their first growing season.

newly laid lawn with edges of strips separating - not laid by Plews!

newly laid lawn with edges of strips separating- not laid by Plews!

When should you water? Water in the evening as this reduces evaporation; unless you have a slug/ snail problem in which case watering in the early morning is better. This reduces the moistness around the plants overnight, when those gastropods are most active.

Re-use water; how? Your water butt may be empty, but there’s plenty of spare water in western households. When you’re washing up dishes in the sink rather than the dishwasher, wash them in a bowl instead. The water can be tipped into a bucket outside the back door and used on your ornamental plants once it’s cool.

Put a bowl in the basin so when people wash their hands this water can be used as above. This ‘grey water’ doesn’t store without treatment so use within a day or two.

Do you need to run the tap to get hot water? Make sure the water is running into a basin not straight down the drain! As this is clean not ‘grey’ water it can be used on food crops as well as ornamentals.

tomato tigerella

tomato tigerella

If you need to feed your peppers and tomatoes, water them first, as they then absorb the feed more efficiently.

Whilst we need to get the water to the plants’ roots rather than the top level of the soil, the soil surface shouldn’t be crusted. This will cause both your watering efforts and the rain (when it arrives) to bounce off the surface rather than be absorbed, which is not what is wanted! Break the soil up with a hoe if necessary.

Drought planting or designing a garden which is sustainable in prolonged hot weather is a long term view, something which we would plan for at the beginning of a garden design. Part of the design brief and discussion would be to look at how hot the climate is and for how long; what is the water availability for watering ornamental plants; how much time does our client wish to spend maintaining the garden (watering, deadheading, pruning etc) ; and the size of their budget. It’s an interesting topic, relevant to sustainable gardening and easy or low maintenance gardening and worthy of a blog post in its own right. (Watch this space)

For more tips on watering your garden during a drought, check out our blog archives or drop us an email with your specific query. We like to help.

Plews Garden Design – Resolving your Gardening issues with inspirational ideas and flexible solutions

Marie Shallcross, Senior Partner

Chilean Glory Flower (Eccremocarpus scaber)

Chilean Glory Flower

Compost – the smell of a successful Garden

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serious-composting

serious composting in a large garden

Clay soil, sandy soil, whatever the soil in your garden, it can be improved by adding compost, aka organic matter.

Garden compost should be rich and dark, smelling almost sweetly of earth; if it smells ‘off’ or rancid then there isn’t enough oxygen in the compost, and it probably isn’t decomposing properly. The texture of compost which is ready to use on your garden soil is crumbly, like breadcrumbs, and it’s acceptable to have some bigger pieces of twig or leaf in the mix. Compost should be slightly damp, and warm, especially if it’s from a newly turned heap. If it’s too dry, add some water and allow time for that to soak through before adding the compost to your soil.

damp-compost-in-bin

damp-compost-in-bin

So why would you want to add compost to the soil? It’s plant food. Well, strictly speaking, its soil food, but the plants benefit. Dug into the soil it improves the drainage of heavy clay soils and the water retention of sandy ones. It provides food for the earthworms who do all sorts of wonderful things to improve soil quality, not least helping with the release of essential nutrients from the compost into the soil. This in turn benefits the plants, enabling their roots to soak up all that composted goodness, which leads to both better food crops and ornamental plants.

But if you don’t want to, or are not able to dig your garden compost into the soil at root level, then you could use it as a soil and plant mulch instead. Applied as mulch onto the soil surface, compost can reduce the need for watering; keep plants cool in summer and warm in winter.

If you only have small quantities of compost then you need to direct it where it will do the most benefit. Using organic compost as a mulch in planting holes and as mulch around hungry food crops and specimen ornamentals is more effective than throwing it around willy–nilly.

compost bin and fuschia

compost bin and fuschia

Check out our linked ‘compost’ video on YouTube; where Nathan demonstrates how to turn compost and check it for quality and readiness for use.

Whatever your soil, sometimes there is a need for digging in some black gold. Do you really want to be faced with this when you go to plant the lavender bush you were given for your birthday?

Did you know that the first organised landfill was happening c5000 years ago in Crete? Now we’re running out of landfill space at a frightening rate, it seems crazy not to compost kitchen & garden waste, thereby reducing the quantity of material needing landfill.

compost-layers

compost layers

Plus, the more we compost, the more we reduce the methane gas leaching from landfill into the atmosphere and so help reduce global warming.

If you’re not able to compost your kitchen and garden waste then see if your local council offers a collection service – and if not petition them to start – it really is a waste not to!
An earlier blog on the website explaining different ways of composting in your garden can be found here

Or treat yourself to one of the Plews eBooks“In Your Winter Garden” where we have even more on compost, soil and the worms in your garden, is currently reduced in price.

And if you need help with composting or any other gardening issues, why not get in touch? At Plews we love to Resolve Your Gardening Issues

pink-cosmos-with-bee

pink-cosmos-with-bee

Garden Planning: Flowers for Spring Weddings and Spring Flowering Bulbs

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narcissus-elka

Narcissus elka

Garden planning: in this instance, ideas for spring wedding floral displays that won’t ruin the budget and purchasing spring bulbs in the autumn. One of the aspects of garden design is to do with planning the present and future garden, and this requires you, or your garden designer, to look at your garden in a particular way.

There are the obvious garden design needs of allowing room for plants to grow but not grow over the newly laid path and patio and planning for the changing look of the garden with the different seasons. This latter is where bulbs come in…

raised curved patio with statue

raised curved patio with statue

Spring bulbs for Spring Flowers

We call them spring bulbs when we need to buy and plant them in the autumn; I’m not surprised that so many people get confused. If you think of them as ‘spring flowering bulbs’ it can help, but you still need to know that future garden planning is needed. Bulb purchasing and planting is an autumn task, but it involves thinking back to last spring and forward to next. So what can you do this spring so that you remember which bulbs to buy in the autumn? Take this opportunity to review what works and what doesn’t in your garden. Taking photos helps with the remembering process, which is why I tell my students to take photos of their own gardens on a regular basis. Jotting down the names of plants and bulbs when you’re visiting a garden or garden centre can be useful too.

daffodil-foliage-growing-through-geranium-machorrizum

daffodil foliage growing through geranium machorrizum

Planting bulbs in the border requires thought as to what else will be on show when the bulbs are flowering and also when the foliage is dying down. When designing a border to include bulbs, where the client’s brief is for easy maintenance, I need to consider the bulbs as part of a long term planting scheme, so I often plant herbaceous perennials for the bulbs to grow through. These won’t have much if any foliage when the bulbs are in flower, but will help distract the eye from the bulbs’ dying foliage.

And sometimes we get asked to plan for other events, such as weddings…

Flowers for Spring Weddings Growing your own wedding flowers obviously needs to be planned in advance and may not suit everyone for reasons of space, time or lack of knowhow. Floral displays, bouquets and buttonholes play a leading role in the decoration of a church or a wedding venue, and they can take up a large part of the budget. Two ways to reduce the budget without compromising on style are firstly to grow many or all of the flowers yourself or ask a green fingered family member to do so. Secondly, would be to use foliage and flowering plants that can be transplanted into the newlyweds’ garden after the big event; providing a living memory of the happy day and personalising their garden at the same time. Indeed, sharing the plants around the newlyweds and their parents’ gardens, would be a lovely memento for all to enjoy for years after.

ribes (flowering currant)

ribes (flowering currant)

As for some ideas for Spring wedding flowers, the following extract from “In Your Spring Garden” gives some inspiration. There are more planting and floral ideas in the eBook.

“For scent and an air of delicate romance, low hanging baskets and raised planters filled with sweet violets (viola odorata) would be lovely. A traditional Valentines’ Day flower, their heart shaped leaves are as apt on a wedding day and their ‘retro’ feel would work well with a vintage chic inspired wedding breakfast theme. As British natives that flower from mid February to May, they would be happy outside and inside, although their scent would be more noticeable in the warmth. 

If you have a marquee, you could have terracotta troughs filled with low clipped hedging of Buxus sempervirens (Box) surrounding the soft apricot tones of Narcissus ‘Replete’. Both these designs balance the femininity of the frilly, soft hued daffodils with the more formal masculinity of the clipped hedging.”

Viola-odorata

Viola-odorata

As for inspiration for spring displays, some of the Plews team is off to view a modern art exhibition – not as odd as you might think, the colour combinations can be exciting.

If you’d like a border planting design or a total re-think of your whole garden, why not get in touch?

narcissus-silver-chimes

Narcissus ‘silver chimes’

Spring into bulb buying

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ImageBulb purchasing and planting is an autumn task, but it involves thinking back to last spring and forward to next. A lot of gardening and garden design, if not most, is about planning the future and bulbs epitomise that aspect of gardening.

So, when faced with packets of bulbs with a close up picture of a tulip on the front what are you thinking? When flicking through bulb catalogues, what are you planning? Unless you have a large garden or lots of different areas to fill with bulbs, your main thought is probably how many spring flowering bulbs can you fit into your pots and borders. Or it should be. Be tempted by colour and from when you know how many you need.

Take the time before you buy to plan. Some questions you may like to ask yourself: are you planting in borders, containers, naturalising in grass? How many containers and how big are they? If in the borders, let’s be practical, consider how many bulbs you have the time to plant. Oh yes, and is there currently room in the border where you’d like to plant or do you still have late flowering Helenium and dahlias in full bloom?

Let’s find some answers. If your borders are still full and looking lovely, then congratulate yourself on a having a fine late display of colour. Make a note to look for and buy later flowering tulips and narcissus (daffodils). These could be planted when your Heleniums have gone over and still flower when they should next year. Another option is to buy the early flowering varieties you covet but plant them in pots. A further choice is to accept that they are likely to flower a bit later as you’ve planted them later.

At Plews we don’t generally plant too many bulbs at one go. Planting hundreds in one day is a chore we leave to friends who work in National Trust gardens. However, we do offer bulb planning and planting as part of our service to regular clients, as well as part of an overall design. Designing and planting containers whether for seasonal variation or a special occasion is one of those tasks which is pleasant to add into a regular routine maintenance schedule.

Planting bulbs in the border requires thought as to what else will be on show at that time of year when the bulbs are flowering and also when the foliage is dying down. When designing a border to include bulbs, where the client’s brief is for easy maintenance, the bulbs are part of a long term planting scheme, so we will often plant herbaceous perennials for the bulbs to grow through. These won’t have much if any foliage the bulbs are in flower, but will help distract the eye from the bulbs’ foliage after flowering. They will live quite happily together for some years.Image

Alternatively, the bulbs can be treated as annuals, and dug up after flowering and composted if virus free. Where the space utilised is edged or framed with evergreens this is a good, if more labour intensive option. Hardy and half hardy annuals can fill the same space as the bulbs but at a later time.

Thinking back to the previous spring; this is an opportunity to review what worked and what didn’t in your garden. Taking photos helps with the process, which is why I tell my students to take photos of their own gardens on a regular basis. Perhaps you visited gardens in the spring and were inspired by their bulb displays, or combinations of colours? Much of that can be tweaked to fit your own garden.

ImageRemember to protect your bulbs once planted, so the squirrels or neighbourhood cats don’t dig them up.

If you’d like to know more about our design, maintenance or teaching services, why not get in touch?

New beginnings…

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September often starts with a blaze of warm weather as we head back to work, school and university after the holidays; this year the sun is reflected in the gold of those Paralympics medals…But is your front garden a medal winner? Do you have practical, neat and bee friendly passage between you and the outside world? Or do you have a weed ridden, sadly neglected wilderness?

It is all too easy to forget that the front garden is more than a depository for recycling boxes and dirty trainers. The eye tends to gloss over the bits that require effort and anyway, how much time do you spend looking at your front garden? Possibly you avoid looking because it’s a mess?

But your front garden should please you when you walk out of your door and when you return home. It is the first thing about you that visitors notice; it is the outward face you show to passersby. And if you’re trying to sell your house, an attractive front garden makes you feel better and improves the value of your property.

A front garden may compliment the style of the house – for example a traditional cottage could have a front garden in the cottage garden style; or it could have architectural and spiky modernistic planting ‘zinging it up’ for contrast. Although these days, especially in urban areas, front gardens also have to work hard to accommodate cars, bikes, recycling, as well as some greenery.

Budget constrictions often mean that the front garden is a low priority, being the space least time is spent in: it is often compared to a hall. But a hall can be a showcase for treasured pictures as well as a practical utility area for essential coats and shoes. Likewise, a front garden can be eye-catching and still accommodate recycling boxes as part of the scheme.

Why not employ a garden designer to resolve the front garden dilemma? Whether you’d like a ‘new beginning’ for yourself, or because you’d like to sell or rent out your house it’s easy to achieve a medal winning result. At Plews we can design, tidy, build and plant you a new space; or just design it for you, providing support for you to do-it-yourself.

We could design you a front garden which is both easy maintenance and increases the value of your property or which gives you the opportunity to indulge yourself with a planting scheme that wouldn’t stand up to the wear and tear of a family back garden. With the ‘feel good’ factor of the Olympics and Paralympics still at the forefront, we have devised a gold, silver and bronze packages for front gardens, aimed at those who are selling but suitable for those who are staying put too.

The smaller size of front gardens can be an advantage as a small budget for a front garden can achieve a big result.

For a re-design of your front garden, drop us an email

When your Garden goes on Holiday

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Wouldn’t that be good? You go to Portugal for 2 weeks; your garden goes on a trip to Cornwall. If only!

Think ahead: 

  • Save plastic containers & bottles to use as water trays/ reservoirs
  • Purchase capillary matting on which you can place lots of pots together

Nearer the time:

    • Deadhead flowering plants 
    • Weed
  • Apply mulch on any bare soil after watering

How to use Plastic squash & pop bottles as water reservoirs: 

  • Cut off the bottom and remove cap. This will then be put top end down in the soil next to your thirsty plants – tomatoes, dahlias, for example. 
  • Water is poured into the bottle and it slowly soaks through to the plant’s roots. This is actually agood trick if you don’t want to be always watering tomatoes, courgettes and squash in your vegetable area or on the allotment.

Pots:

  • Where are the cooler places in the garden? Out of the midday sun is good for most plants. Place on matting or in trays; water well before you leave, so that the plants are “sitting in moistness”.
  • However, your pelargoniums (pot geraniums) will not take too kindly to having their roots sitting in water, so water well before you leave making sure the water gets down to the roots. They are fairly drought tolerant, so should be fine if in a shady spot. If in the sun and a porch where they won’t benefit from any rain, put tray underneath.
  • Hanging baskets – if in the rear garden, take down and treat as a pot above
  • Micro-salads – cut & eat before you go, leave in cool place, sitting in a tray filled with water.

Borders:

  • Established planting, eg trees and shrubs, will be fine; if any of them are wilting because we’ve had a heat wave, then give the whole garden a thorough soak a day before you go away. (Guaranteed to make it rain on those of us staying behind…)
  • New plants, bedding, thirsty plants like dahlias –if room, use upturned pop bottle (as above) in the soil next to the plant to act as a reservoir. Otherwise thoroughly soak before you go away.

Lawn:

  • Domestic lawns don’t need watering unless new. Mow before you go, medium cut, so it’s tidy when you come back.
  • Front garden: tidy & water as above; put water reservoirs under pots (if in the sun) well in advance so it looks ‘normal’.

Keyholder:

  • If someone is coming in to check the house whilst you’re away, ask them to check the plants for wilting and water if necessary – and to help themselves to any crops/flowers for the house – good for the plant as it encourages more to grow for your return!

On return:

  • unpack, put washing on; make tea/ pour wine, sit in garden and enjoy!

There are lots of ways of making your garden easy to maintain all year round; why not contact us for more details!

Show Chelsea a Flower

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There is, funnily enough, a showy element to this week’s blog. It is that time of the year again after all, when the media and the Garden Design world all start patting each other on the back or sniping behind the aforesaid backs. Chelsea Flower Show can bring out both the best and worst in people.

Show Chelsea a flower and she may start sneezing; many people are allergic to pollen from one or more plant species. The London Plane trees that line the avenue at Chelsea (a permanent feature) are known to cause grief to many visitors as this is the exact time of year when the Plane trees’ pollen brings out the sneezes and wheezes; the infamous ‘Chelsea cough’.

Trees have been something of an issue at the Show this year; some of the designers have trawled the world, it seems, for the tallest or widest specimens; thereby causing a few headaches for those organising the event as some of the aboricultural delights only just fit through and on site. Importing trees for a short time in this way has to raise questions about sustainability and the environment.   Not just trees of course; importing Chinese slate when we have Welsh slate near to hand belongs to a similar dispute. But it is the trees that have made the headlines. At a time when London and the south east is suffering from a drought which was pretty much on the cards when this year’s gardens were being designed, was it a responsible action? Not only have the trees been imported (carbon footprint etc, etc, etc) but as they are such large specimens and have been recently transplanted they will require gallons and gallons and gallons more of water.

As someone who designs largely drought tolerant gardens (which fall nicely into the ‘easy maintenance’ brief of many of our clients) and who knows many other designers and landscapers who likewise incorporate a raft of environmentally friendly aspects into their work, one can be majorly irritated by the display of showmanship or see it as childishness. But there are plenty of designers showing at Chelsea who have not succumbed to this attitude. Their trees are native species, or sourced from nearer to home; or smaller specimens; or no trees at all, just shrubs and flowers. These, perhaps are the gardens to praise, these are the gardens that delight in showing that size is not everything…

Chelsea Flower Show is a showcase; it should be an inspiration – for designers, creatives, and for the ‘general public’ (whoever they are). It usually is an inspiration. It should also be an education; and yes it is, there are gardens and displays that tell us how we can live a life that balances computers and smart phones with bee friendly outdoor spaces.

Back to those pollen laden plane trees that are making Chelsea sneeze…Platanus x hispanica is found across London and other cities. It is very tolerant of pollution and of the root compaction that urban trees also have to deal with. Root compaction from the amount of hard surfaces rather than soil surrounding them and from the constant flow of traffic pounding the earth into a hard state.  Deciduous, so showing a tracery of branches over the winter and with palmate, ie hand-like, leaves and a peeling bark which is its most appealing feature (!) this tree is not native to the UK. Colloquially known as the ‘London Plane’ it has become a largely accepted immigrant, although there is still not full agreement on its antecedents; the ‘x hispanica’ nods in the direction of one of its most likely parents, the Spanish plane tree. Flowering time? May –June, of course: just in time for the Chelsea Flower Show!

It is of course a patriotic year, with both the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics appearing on the national calendar. So in her hunt for flowers, our Chelsea is likely to make a bee-line for the Great Pavilion and probably need a sniff of Rosa ‘Queens Jubilee Rose’ and Rosa ‘Royal Jubilee’. These are obvious contenders for RHS ‘Plant of the Year’ award. Roses, also being pollen bearers, may cause an allergic reaction, as may the perfume, either to nose or skin. But hopefully, these celebratory roses, whilst scented, will not cause too many sneezes or skin itches. They are lovely looking roses and their scent promises to be good too.

Oh and while Chelsea does like her flowers, she’s also into hair styles – so let’s hear it for the Chelsea Fringe – a series of events and open gardens running from today (May 19) until June 10. http://www.chelseafringe.com

And whether you’re seeing Chelsea for real, watching it on TV or your computer, Plews can help you with the view you see every day – your own garden. For ideas that are inspired not just by Chelsea but by the many wonders of the world around us,  why not contact us and let us design and build you a sneeze free garden?

Marie