Plant of the Month: October

img_20161015_164847.jpgFall is here. The nights are drawing in earlier each day. The blue skies and sunny days haven’t quite disappeared but there is a distinctive winter chill in the air. In the garden the herbaceous borders across the country our winding down and the winter shrubs are taking centre stage.

It’s not too late to be planting, moving or introducing new plants into the garden. The ground below is still warm from the summer sun. This is the perfect time for new plants to establish themselves firmly amongst the borders, building their root system through the winter, ready to make an entrance in the spring.

Here in Fownhope we have welcomed a couple of new arrivals into our garden hedge. A pair of chirpy winter Robins who have set up home and seem to be rather fond of fruit cake.

My plant of the month for October has to be:

Continue reading

Plant of the Month: September

Summer seems to be coming to a close as quickly as it arrived. With most of the summer time herbaceous revellers finishing their performances, many devious deciduous tree’s have begun dropping their leaves. The days are ever shortening, with the nights steadily getting cooler. Though you can still catch in the air the whiff of the odd last summer BBQ!

Now is the time to make any big changes in the borders. The plants have done their growing above ground and are now winding down for the winter. With the ground still warm, now is the perfect time to move or divide any perennials, shrubs or young trees that need relocating. This will give them time to settle into their new homes and help them establish new roots over the winter.

My plant of the month for September has to be:


Fuchsia’s Continue reading

The Weir Garden, Swainshill, Hereford 30/10/15

With Autumn now in full swing and the end of this year fast approaching, Mum and I decided to sneak in another trip to one of the National Trusts gardens; The Weir Garden in Herefordshire.

Created in the 1920’s by Roger Parr the south facing garden covers 10 acres which allows for a wide variety of plants and, combined with the riverside, attracts a wide variety of wildlife as well as boasting beautiful views across the River Wye and unspoilt Herefordshire countryside.  Parr left the estate to the National Trust in 1959.

The name ‘The Weir Garden’ is somewhat deceiving as there is no longer a weir present at all, although it is believed one had existed a mere half a mile down stream supposed to hold back the river to create a suitable and popular fishing area. However an Act of Parliament in 1696 did away with all weirs along the River Wye to allow it to become freely navigable to one and all.


Euonymus europaeus.

Common Spindle

Perfect for bringing excitement to any Autumn /Winter border is the common spindle with its incredible fuchsia pink seed pods which open to reveal deep orange seeds inside. Will grow in sun or partial shade in any well-drained soil. Particularly found naturally growing in woodlands and hedgerows. 


The great concrete wall along the river was built in 1929 by Parr as a defence against erosion, creating a grand walkway with a fabulous view over the river. A little further downstream Parr also built a large concrete enforced boathouse which stands as one of the few to this day which remains along the River Wye.

Despite November but only a day or so away there was still plenty for the eye to behold; from old seed heads still standing tall, the majestic weeping willow over the river and many grand old trees burning with autumn colour the most wonderful and marvellous to see were the huge box and yew topiary balls dotted about randomly. For the main part the garden is a fairly steep slope which I discovered in Project 3 is not the easiest thing to design on. These great Buxus and Taxus baccata topiary balls instantly and easily create a beautifully surreal landscape.


Slightly away from the main garden is a delightful walled garden which is thought to have been created sometime between 1867 and 1887 where it appears for the first time on a Ordnance Survey. The glasshouses seen today were built by well known glasshouse manufactures Foster and Pearson during the 1920’s.


The cutting border, although undoubtedly past its peek, was still bursting with colour and fabulous happy flowers such a Coreopsis, Dahlia’s and Verbena bonariensis. At the end of this gorgeous border was any gardeners winter haven, and the envy of my mother, a potting shed full of all the essential tools and pots.

Back outside at the foot of the wide vegetable beds, full of fantastically bright rainbow chard, was an ever popular increasing sight of a huge bug hotel with a very thoughtfully placed instruction board. Bug hotels are so easy to create and incredibly rewarding. Wildlife is essential to a living garden and it takes merely a few steps to embrace it and give those creepy crawlies a little helping hand.

All in all Mum and I had the most pleasant of days visiting The Weir Garden. It isn’t the largest National Trust sight by far but well worth the journey over to enjoy and peruse through its wonderfully tranquil grounds.


For more information on The Weir Garden click below:

The Weir National Trust Visitor Information


Today at work…

I revamped the first display I was entrusted to create. Autumn is definitely here with winter on its way.

It is incredible how you could have two identical spaces with identical features and yet be able to create two completely different gardens with the careful selection of plants. There is an infinite number of plants and no end to the texture and colour combinations one can create. It is just like painting but with living things. However, just like paint and probably in fact even more so, plants can be temperamental. It is all well and good placing two plants together but unless they thrive in the same conditions ones painting will never live.

Today at work…

Thinking this is going to become a “regular feature”.

The garden centre I work for is apart of The Garden Centre Group (soon to be rebranded as Wyevale) and as an employee I have access to a fantastic E-learning resource to build up my horticultural knowledge. Quite honestly it is the main reason I gave up my previous salaried position for such a low part time wage. I had decided I wanted to become a garden designer however after the experiences I went through during my Fine Art BA(Hons) degree (it was a pretty awful 3 years to put it simply), returning to University was out of the question.

None of this is really the point. The point was I feel I have one of the most perfect jobs to go hand in hand with my studies. My plant knowledge has increased dramatically in the few months I have worked for the company, although I am oh so very far from even daring to call myself an expert. I had to apologise and admit to a customer the other day that I hadn’t a clue what she was asking for and she very kindly explained (I now know what a standard is!). Tangent.

Anyway today at work I created a smallish display to liven up an empty but frequently passed spot, by customers, at work. Which leads me to the point I have been trying to word that it is wonderfully useful being surrounded by a great selection of plants that I can move, arrange and rearrange in displays. For example the first two plants I picked up were a Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ and a gorgeous 3ft Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’ but as I played with my display I just couldn’t get the Cornus alba to work with the various other plants I later selected.

Ofcourse growing heights and conditions bare little consequence in my displays currently, as I lack that knowledge, which I need to address so I can successfully translate all these various colour and texture plant combinations I create at work into my garden design.