Tag Archives: Jubilee

Patriotic Gardens or how to find Summer Planting Inspiration

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red pelargonium,blue front door

red pelargonium,blue front door

How does your garden grow: colourful in the spring and then all green in the summer? If you missed out on using last year’s Diamond Jubilee as planting inspiration why not celebrate sixty years since the Queen’s Coronation instead?

The plants below flower during the summer months so will brighten up your garden. Plant them in combination: for example, one white rose at the back, three blue delphinium and five low growing red dianthus at the front.

Red roses

Red roses

white iris

white iris

geranium johnsons blue

geranium johnsons blue

red dianthus

red dianthus

white rose

white rose

blue delphimium

blue delphimium

red cytisus (broom)

red cytisus (broom)

white lily

white lily

blue eryngium bourgatii

blue eryngium bourgatii

Some more planting combinations

red persicaria, white geranium, blue pansies

red persicaria, white geranium, blue pansies

white cosmos, red scabious, blue eryngium

white cosmos, red scabious, blue eryngium

You could even have Coronation colours in the vegetable garden with red strawberries, blueberries and white currants…well, at least until you ate them!

Marie

Plews Garden Design offers design and build gardens and planting designs for borders. Drop us an email with your query.

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Apples:Designing the Garden of Eden?

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Designing a garden to include lots of fruit is always satisfying: at this time of year my imagination leaps off the page and sees next year’s mini orchard in full harvest. Apple trees are especially popular – did you know that Britain is “apple monarch of the world” with over 2000 varieties available?Image

This year’s weather has affected the apple harvest, by reducing the quantity and quality, and generally giving a later harvest. A single apple tree can produce up to 200 apples and live for 100 years, so there is time for another harvest, a better harvest.

Not sure when to pick your apples? If they’re dropping to the ground as ripe rather than unripe ‘windfalls’ then it’s time to start picking. Cup the apple in your hand and twist gently; they should drop easily into your hand. Not all the apples may be ripe at the same time, so it may take 3 ‘goes’ at picking before the whole tree has been cropped.

What if you don’t have an apple tree of your own? If you’re thinking of buying one or two, now is an excellent time to taste different varieties and see which you prefer. You may find a good selection of apples at your local farmers market or farm shop. If you fancy them fresh off the tree why not find out if there’s an apple tasting day near you?

There are apple festivals aplenty – including one at Brogdale, home of the National Fruit Collection, where they’re also celebrating their diamond jubilee this year, just like Queen Elizabeth II. The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale houses the world’s largest collection of temperate fruit on a single site. To see row upon row of apple trees is an impressive sight. And then you move on to the pear trees, the quince, the medlar, the plums, the cherries…

Choosing an apple tree isn’t just about taste of course, the size of the tree, whether you’d like a free standing tree or a trained form are also important considerations. Trained forms are particularly suitable for smaller areas as they make use of often overlooked space, for example, training an espalier along a fence. Single cordon apples can be grown in a large pot, ideal for a patio; I remember seeing some of these at Trinity Buoy Wharf many years ago, as part of ‘growing food in the city’ project.

But perhaps you fancy a tree with history? If you’re a scientist perhaps the Isaac Newton tree might appeal? The story an apple landing on his head in 1667 thus leading to Newton’s laws on gravity may tempt you to have an offspring of the same tree. The original tree stood in the garden of Newton’s home at Woolsthorpe manor, in Lincolnshire, and over the years grafts have been taken to grow new Newton trees. It is claimed that the original is still there, having regrown after falling over in a storm.

ImageThe Egyptians were among the first people to grow apples – apart from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, I suppose. But the first person to grow the world famous Bramley cooking apples was Mary Ann Brailsford in the family home in Nottinghamshire in the early 19th century. If you’re wondering why they’re not called ‘MaryAnn’s’ that’s because the family moved away and it was a man called Bramley who owned the tree when some fifty years later a local nurseryman took cuttings and grew the fruit and trees commercially.

So what else do you need to know? Apple trees are sold as scions or grafts onto a rootstock. Basically, the rootstock determines the ultimate size of the tree whilst the scion will give you the variety of fruit. You’ll also need more than one, or need your neighbours to have a tree as well, as apples are not self-fertile.

In the meantime, taste away!Image

A Jubilee celebration ‘wood’ be fine

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Patriotic planting was the theme of last week’s blog and in some ways we ‘keep calm and carry on’ as the Jubilee Woods take centre stage – lots of newly planted trees in sixty Jubilee woods to celebrate the second monarch to reach her Diamond Jubilee.

In a spirit of biodiversity and patriotism, with a sense of community and history, the encouragement of both flora and fauna by the Woodland Trust is taking the form of a positively Triffid like invasion of trees across Britain, over 250 in total.  Although unlike the Triffids in John Wyndham’s tale of mobile alien plants that blind humans and then eat them, these many new trees include fruit trees for us to eat the fruit from.

All of the individuals and communities who planted trees to celebrate the Coronation of George VI in 1937 were making a statement of hope, that there would be people, their descendants and others, who would see those young saplings in their mature growth. King George’s daughter, our current Queen, was a sapling at her father’s coronation; now she is a mature tree, having reigned over us, sheltered us under her boughs, if you like, for 60 years. Time enough for any tree to grow and thrive. 

Designing a garden or landscape with trees in should be about the future as much as about the present. There was so much hype around the Chelsea Flower Show trees this year – fully grown trees to give the wow factor – that we could forget how long these remarkable plants take to grow. How, by our giving care to ensure they thrive, the trees repay us by soaking up CO2, by sheltering us when it rains, by offering shade on hot days, by feeding us with fruit…

Espalier fruit trees, trained fan-like against a wall or fence are a beautiful and bountiful sight and easy to fit in even small gardens; majestic oak trees need a bit more space than most of us have, but if you’d like one there are Royal Oak saplings to be had, grown form acorns on the Royal estates.

If you plant a tree, you’ll certainly have pleasure from it, but even those mature specimens may outlive you, so have the future in mind; it may be our children or their children who are able to fully enjoy the beauty and bounty. “I think that I will never see, a poem lovely as a tree” is a quote known to many, written by Joyce Kilmer and whether you like poetry or not, whether you’re a royalist or a republican, you’d be a fool not to appreciate trees.

If you’d like to know more or are thinking about planting trees do get in touch – arboriculture is the study, planting, maintenance, of trees shrubs and all woody perennials – and at Plews we love our plants.

Jubilee Jubilation

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The weather is rather good for Britain this weekend, glorious in parts…hands up those who think it will rain for their street party over the Jubilee weekend? … Hmm, not sure whether that’s a pessimistic or realistic response given the vagaries of the British climate! Now the Chelsea Flower Show madness is settling down, we can switch our focus to community and country with thoughts of 1952. Or 1977. Or even 2002. Not just 2012.

Ok, explanations: 1952 was the year our Queen ascended the throne. 1977 was the year of the Queens Silver Jubilee, ie she had reigned for 25 years. In 2002 we celebrated her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee, ie 50 years of being on the throne. (Remember the ‘Party at the Palace?) 2012 is of course the year of Olympics in Britain and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

All of these celebrations lead certain garden designers & plantswomen to conjure up patriotic planting schemes, both short term for street party and general decorative purposes but also for the longer term, this summer and beyond. The demands of a red, white and blue colour scheme can lead to a few tweaks; true blue is not the commonest colour among flowers. So, what about a few ideas to get you planting?

A red rose for Lancaster and a white rose for York hark back to the Wars of the Roses which was largely about who should rightfully sit on the throne of England in the 15th century; perhaps surrounding  these rose bushes with soft blue Nigella, also known as love-in-a-mist, will help keep any protagonists calm. The roses are perennials, of course, and the Nigella will self seed. After the blue flowers you can enjoy the decorative seed heads. What about a native species mix of blue/purple scented violas, white yarrow (for the butterflies) and scarlet pimpernel? They’ll keep going all summer long and you’ve added to the garden’s biodiversity too.

Or would you prefer a quicker fix, flowering for the Jubilee weekend but looking good afterwards too?

Something which brings in architectural planting (very 2002), municipal bedding schemes (very 1952 and 1977), plus biodiversity (2002 and 2012 themes) might take your fancy if you have an historical bent, or Royalist streak. Try Persicaria ‘red dragon’ for the foliage drama with its red stems and red/purple/ bronze tongue shaped leaves; mix with purple/blue pansies (try to find scented ones for extra sensory delight) and Geranium ‘Kashmir white’  with its mound of feathery cut foliage . Both the pansies and geranium are flowering now and will continue for another month.

Or you could have a Royalist selection, maybe Anchusa ‘Loddon royalist’ (blue), Lobelia ‘queen Victoria’ (red) and for white it has to be Rosa ‘queen Elizabeth’, named for our current monarch. Have I got you wondering why ‘Loddon’, the other two being obviously royalist in connection? Well, the River Loddon flows through royal Berkshire, home of Windsor castle, which is the more obvious relationship and sufficient for our needs. However, for those of you with magpie minds, you may like to know that there have been mills on the river Loddon since the 14th century, including a early 19th century silk mill. Which makes a royal link with Queen Elizabeth Tudor, who encouraged the planting of white mulberry trees in order to promote silk worm, and therefore silk, production.  So we have a connection between our two Queen Elizabeths. The connection between Queen Victoria and our reigning Queen is that they are the only two British monarchs to date who have ruled over us for 60 years. (Victoria’s reign was 63 years long).

Reigning – or raining – brings us neatly back to the weather: personally, I would take a brolly; it can double up as sunshade or rain cover…Whatever the weather, Plews can help you with planting and design schemes; solutions for garden issues; garden lessons and more.

Whether you’re Royalist or Republican, why not contact us and let us spread some jubilee celebration fervour into your garden?

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