Water Features and Planting Schemes

Tulips Fountain

Tulips Fountain

Water features offer one of the most effective ways to create a new dynamic in a garden. They add movement and dynamism and subconsciously help create a feeling of relaxation and lushness.
For the photographer or garden enthusiast, a water feature can provide a key focal point, which enables the plants to be effectively displayed. This particular water fountain (in Oxford Botanic Gardens) has been planted with tulips around the edge.

The tulips provide an interesting contrast. Here the tulips are neat, ordered and erect. – A perfect foil to the cascading nature of the waterfall.


Late Tulip Planting


Normally I try and plant my Tulips by the end of December but this year I am a bit late. Still Tulips have a great capacity to catch up before April when they flower.

Varieties Just Planted

  • Monte Carlo a double yellow only 12 ” tall. They have an AGM and are reputed to be fragrant.
  • Apricot Parrot has feathered bicoloured petals. There is a bit of green on the outer petals with red and apricot shades on the inner petals. These Tulips are about 22″ tall
  • Another lower growing  Tulip Greigii called Queen Ingrid at 14″ caught my eye with red petals edged in white
  • Bulbs varied in size from 10-13cm. I have planted most in pots that I can bury in the ground where there is a gap and take up quickly after flowering. I will let you know how they all get on.

Framed Archways in the Garden

the Garden of light

When designing gardens, don’t forget the power of architecture to frame inspiring shots. These two brick columns create the impression of a ‘window into the garden’. Windows such as this lead the eye to a certain aspect of the garden creating an additional sense of drama and interest in the garden.

One thing about his photo is that you want to instinctively go through the archway in order to see the whole garden.

It is a powerful technique to break up a garden into different rooms – keep creating different sections and layers of interest.

The other interesting thing about this photo is the contrast between light and darkness. The top of the archway is very dark and this serves as a contrast to the beautiful pink light of the apple blossome


The Garden Museum formerly Museum of Garden History

The museum of garden history in St Marys Church at Lambeth Palace London reopens after refurbishment on the 18th November 2008. Renamed The Garden Museum, extra space has been created inside the medieval church to display paintings, drawings and ephemera related to gardening.

Visit to The Garden Museum (Garden)

  • I arrived a week too soon expecting the refurbishment to be completed ( I should have checked). It had been several years since my last visit when it was still called the museum of garden history.
  • The Cafe and garden were still open and the graveyard was planted up with lots of plants including some strong growing Acanthus.
  • The knot garden contained a large spirally pruned Ilex altaclariensis Golden King as a center piece.
  • Evidence of the links to the Tradescant family were all over the small garden and for the most part the plants were well labeled.
  • My favourite feature was an old stone seat that had been surrounded by a small hedge clipped to make it look like a sofa.

See more pictures
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Nearly Free Seeds

RHS Seed Distribution 2009

One of the joys of RHS membership is the annual free seed distribution. A 24 page listing of available seeds, collected from the RHS gardens, provides a wide and unusual selection.

The descriptions are short and the official Latin names send me off to look up the species in books or the internet before deciding. At the beginning of next year I will receive the 20 packets together with a germination guide. In addition to recommended temperatures and likely germination times there are many tips on covering seeds, chilling to break dormancy and other influencing factors.

I have just ordered my 20 packets from the catalogue of over 500 different options. Half of my selection this year are trees or shrubs as I like to have something different and taller than usual from the RHS. This was my selection:

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Peace the Top Rose

Named ‘Peace’ after the second world war this ‘Peace Rose’ could have been named not for the absence of war but for the tranquility of a peaceful garden.


In 1935, Francis Meilland cross-pollinated a french  rose with Margaret McGredy, from which was born a seedling of unknown qualities. Some eyes were budded in 1936, and by fall one of the plants had developed into an especially fine specimen with lush dark green, glossy foliage, and it had magnificent blooms of the most delicate ivory-yellow brushed with pink at the edges. From Kitty Belendes.


Purple Cabbage

This ornamental cabbage is grown for winter colour. For a Red Cabbage with heart try Kalibos, Red Drumhead or Red Jewel varieties grown from seed.

Cabbage Tips

  • Red cabbage usually stands well in the ground from summer to early winter.
  • Solid hearts with fewer wasted leaves are also normal with Red cabbage.
  • Pickled or ‘shredded raw’ are two favourite ways of eating these Red cabbages.
  • If you grow 2 rows in your veg garden is it a dual cabbageway?



Growing Biennial Papaver nudicale & Eschscholzia


This is an easy to grow biennial. Plant seeds now, either where they are to flower, or under cover for planting out 9 inches apart later. Germination can be erratic but they also dislike being transplanted so you are caught between a rockery and hard-landscaping.

The reason I say they are easy, is because they self sow all over my garden and despite the delicate petals I think of them as weeds. So much so that I forgot to photograph any earlier this year.

Other Seeds to sow for next year

  • Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ grey leaves with purple bell flowers
  • Eschscholzia – Californian Poppy
  • Calendula officinalis – Indian Prince mixed coloured pot marigolds

See also Tips for growing Iceland Poppies


Taking Late Autumn Cuttings

It is still not too late to take semi ripe and hard wood cuttings. Many perennials are short lived, like penstemon above, and they can be reinvigorated from new cuttings. Plants are not at there best in Autumn so results may not be perfect but I find it pays to experiment.

Gardeners Autumn Cutting Tips

  • Take more cuttings than you need to cover losses.
  • Add perlite to your  compost or use damp sand and peat
  • Hardwood cuttings of roses, hebe, choysia and other shrubs and trees can be taken and left outside under some shelter from a hedge.
  • Pelargonium and decorative Fuchsia need to be over wintered away from frost and I find it easier to do this with cuttings rather than large plants.

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