Have you small children in your house and are not sure what to do with the garden? Are those goal posts in the garden taking up lots of space? Have you got all lawn and not much else in the garden. Maybe your just not sure where to start?
Over the next few weeks, I'll be offering ideas on helping you to plan out your space. The plan is a starting point and will likely evolve over time as you develop your garden. People tend to make ongoing changes as their tastes evolve. Indeed, as your children grow, your garden grows and the requirements of the garden space changes. At the start, there's no point in putting in lots of delicate flowers that your kids are likely to trample on. You want hardy, robust plants that will stand up to a little abuse, but you also want it to look like a space that's to be enjoyed, is attractive and pleasing to the eye.
One of the first things that you want to decide on, is where to locate a patio or seating area. Do you like to entertain during the summer months? Have a family barbeque? Sit out with a glass of wine or cup of tea in the evenings? What are you going to use the space for? If it's for eating then it's best if it's somewhere close to the house where you don't have to trek up and down the garden every time you've forgotten the ketchup? I would recommend that you grab a chair and a cuppa and sit down where you think you'd like to have your patio. Is it really sunny - ok, it's not sunny today, but does it get full sun? What about during the evening? Is it windy? The last thing you want to do is spend money on a patio, sit down to your bbq and realise that the wind is howling through and you can't enjoy the space.
Is there anywhere else in the garden that you want to have a seat. I have a little corner marked out for myself that I'd like to have a seat in. There's nothing planted there right now, it's surrounded by a hedge but I'd really like to put a seat in that corner. It's really peaceful, it gets sunshine during the day. I'd like it to be a little hidden so that if there's anyone else in the garden they might not see me (ok, fine, it's a place to hide from the kids!). Do you have a place in mind for yourself. Some people, like to have a small table and chairs further down the garden, not to eat in really, but sit down with a cuppa - I'd be happy with just a bench. If there is somewhere that you'd like, again bring out a chair, sit there for a little while. Can you hear lots of traffic, some might not mind the noise but for others it's too much of a distraction and they want to be able to hear the birds chirping.
I'd highly recommend bringing out a chair for a few days, try out a few different parts of the garden that you think you might like to have a seat. Close your eyes and imagine what you would like to surround yourself with - evergreens, ferns, flowers coming up in Spring, daffodils, tulips, or lavenders that are really scented during the summer. Gardening is really personal, it's your space, to sit back and enjoy with your husband, wife, family or friends. It's something to be enjoyed and treasured, it's a journey. Happy Gardening, Lynda
If you'd like to get updates on continuing this journey together, then please send me your email address by clicking here and I'll keep you updated.
Shrubs that are scented add another dimension to our garden, especially at this time of year when it can be so quiet in the garden with not much happening, or so you might think. I was passing a flower bed yesterday and the shoots for the snowdrops are already peeping through the soil and before you know it the daffodils will be shooting up too.
You might have seen recently that I mentioned the Choisya Sundance (pictured here on the left), which I have found is really scented. I think it smells a little like basil, it is an evergreen shrub. If you are not familiar with this variety of Choisya then it has yellow leaves, which really stand out in the winter garden, it gives a great glow of colour. It does flower, but I would grow it for the foliage and the scent alone!
Sarcococca confusa, is another great shrub for the winter garden.
It is also as known as sweet box, or Christmas box. It is another evergreen shrub, which means that it keeps it's leaf all year round. There are white flowers on it during the winter months following with berries which may last throughout the year. It is really a sweetly scented shrub, hence it's common name Sweet box.
It likes the sun, but can also do well in part shade too. You don't really need to prune the Sarcococca, but you can prune anything that's damaged once it's finished flowering.
Viburnums are another great winter flowering shrub to have in the garden. They require a little space but are worth having with their tiny white flowers, amongst the narrow evergreen leaves.
There are so many different varieties of Viburnums that there is a book dedicated to all of them... which is called Vibernums by Michael Dirr. This variety of Viburnum is tinus. You don't really need to prune this Viburnum, but if you do want to cut it back the best time is during May. If you're planting this in the garden, remember it likes sunshine, but it will do well if there's a little shade too!
Mahonia, is one of my favourite winter flowering shrubs. I think it's the mass of yellow flowers and the prickly leaves, (which the kids have learnt not to touch, and if I'm ever asking for help, this is one they'll just refuse on sight!)
It flowers from November through to April depending on the weather. It's evergreen leaves can be a little prickly. However the shrub has an abundance of yellow flowers during the winter months, followed by blue berries. It can grow tall, but you can keep it in check by pruning it once it has finished flowering. Mahonia's can do well in a shady area too, so if you're looking to brighten up a corner, this can work well.
These are just 4 examples of winter flowering shrubs that would look great in any garden right now. We have them all in stock at Rockbarton Garden Centre and we'd love to help you pick the right plants for your garden.
Happy Gardening, Lynda
Lynda is married to Bryan and they have 5 children, Together they have created a garden centre with the perfect plants, shrubs, trees and flowers to help you create the ornamental garden of your dreams !