stugardens design

Ground Elder Leaves

Ground Elder

Ground elder is a pernicious weed but has an interesting history. Ground elder can be eliminated by digging, or by covering the ground with black polythene to starve the weed of light. It may take several seasons until the ground elder is completely destroyed. Ground elder “Aegopodium podagraria” is a perennial plant within the carrot family (Apiaceae) that grows mostly in shady places. The name “ground elder” comes from the so-called similarity of its leaves and flowers to those of the elder plant Sambucus though the two are unrelated. It has various common names such as: herb Gerard, bishop’s weed, goutweed or gout wort, and snow-in-the-mountain. It is sometimes referred to by the names English masterwort and wild masterwort. The species itself is native to Eurasia and was introduced around the world as an ornamental plant much to gardener’s chagrin where it can pose an ecological threat as an invasive …

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Raised beds

Raise Your Level

Having raised beds is a great way to add a comfortable height for your gardening especially if you have a bad back or limited mobility. There are many other positives to raised beds; the main one being control of your soil and drainage allowing one to match the soil to the plants you are growing. Soil in raised beds also heat up quicker in Spring and will stay warm longer, but remember to choose a position where there is at least 6 hours sunlight later in the year and need less tilling or maintenance. A sloping garden can look amazing when raised beds are added and can also add value to a property. If money is tight this is a simple solution rather than an expensive landscape relevelling of the site. There are many options for raised beds and contemporary white rendered walls can give a crisp and clean look …

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The Free Garden

As a garden designer I need to be creative with a design, but also save a customer money!! Firstly, soil and in particular good compost will aid moisture retention and help suppress weeds, as well as feeding your plants, vegetables etc… Making your own organic soil improver from vegetable and fruit peelings, leaves, plant waste, grass, tea bags etc is a great way of improving soil and recycling. It is important to mix these materials and leave air pockets to help the rotting process. Next, the plants themselves and collecting seeds from a previous years flowers… Make sure the seeds are fully mature and it is best to put these straight into a paper bag. Once collected you will need to filter out any debris or insects by tipping onto white paper to help see the wood for the trees. Finally put in a clean envelope and place in a …

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Snow IN April!!

So!… in April we had a real surprise! Not only snow, but a heavy frost to follow. How does mother nature cope with newly sprouting plants, shrubs and trees? …and how can we help? It might seem surprising, but damp soil holds warmth a lot easier than dry soil and watering during the daytime is the best time to do this. We all know covering plants is a great trick and if possibly moving them inside for further protection works better. Buckets, cloches, old plant pots or even light weight material (so as to not weigh down or damage the plant), cardboard boxes, straw or cutting the bottom off 2 litre bottles to form a cover are all excellent methods of protection. When frost damage does occur, remove the damaged growth once you are certain frosts have passed and prune to a healthy bud. If root damage occurs (particularly in …

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Creating A Show Garden – Part 3

The Process and Building The journey which is ‘Akira’ begins by leading you through the design via a zen gravel pathway, similar to ones in gardens of the orient. A specimen Niwaki tree stands at the centre of the design and is the main feature whether viewed from inside or on the bench in the garden.Other trees include: Pinus Mugo ‘Carsten Gold’ to the right, (also cloud pruned) and reminiscent of a hand reaching in and pulling you into the garden. It has a lovely yellow colour in Winter which would be just turning green for the show. There were also three acers which might seem excessive, but they are all small trees and slow growing, each with different colours and textures. The Acer on the left: PalmatumDissectum ‘Inaba Shidare’ with its great reddish weeping habit, is so perfectly situated by the bench, so as you pass by, its shape …

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Creating A Show Garden – Part 2

The Brief – The Build Today I would like to talk to you about the show garden process itself and the building of them. Obtaining sponsorship is crucial when building a show garden due in part to the immense cost involved in the pursuit of perfection, perfection one has to aim for! Moss plays a big part in Japanese gardens and I decided to use sustainable cushion moss as an undulating rhythm throughout the space. I wanted to create a feeling of calmness inspired from sitting on the beach and watching the waves lap over the shore. The RHS are seriously committed to combatting the destruction man has and is still doing to the planet over the years and therefore (and quite rightly) everything used in a show garden has to be responsibly sourced and sustainable. This meant that the moss I needed to use had to be grown hydroponically …

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Versatile Violet

The colour named after a flower Violets (viola) add a lovely vibrant colour to a border and look especially at home in a cottage garden. They are found in woodlands and under hedges, but are also shrouded in a wonderful history… There is a romantic, natural sweet essence to violets that can only be smelled once before they steal your olfactory senses and is often used in perfumes.. Violets have also been used in herbal medicines to relieve insomnia, depression and headaches..The flowers are edible and can be used in salads, as a garnish and candied (which looks particularly good in cake decoration). They were also found in Napoleon’s locket when he died.Violets are also called “the flower of Modesty” because it hides its flower within heart-shaped leaves. In medieval times, violets were referred to as “Our Lady’s Modesty” because it was believed that it first blossomed when the Virgin …

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Privet always prevails

Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium), meaning oval leaf in Latin, is the perfect hedge for sculpting within a garden with a typically classic look that dates back to the Victorian era. Its dense foliage, strong upright nature and small leaf give a neat and tidy finish to any shape you require, whether it be curves or crisp edges.You can see in the pictures how its strong architectural designs could compliment the architecture of a property and incorporate the rest of the planting into any design when done correctly. I particularly like the way you can manipulate light to further enhance a design. The hedge has lush, green foliage that is not only evergreen, but very hardy and can tolerate both hard winters, and wet soils; It can even be used in coastal areas and is tolerant in urban areas of pollution. Privet has creamy white flowers in Summer, although this is not …

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October Garden Jobs

Autumn/Winter Pruning, Visual Interest, Maintenance of Flower Borders “Think natural sculptures and winter interest before you start”. For some, an immaculately tidy garden is priority above anything else, but in winter and autumn do consider which structures can be left for winter interest and homes for wildlife. Remove anything showing sign of decay or fungal infection and burn rather than compost, especially when signs of rust or leafspots. Hydrangeas are pruned the following year after the first frost has gone to protect the plant. This leaves changing winter colour on the flower head, but also these mopheads of flower that look great frozen in time when the weather is cold. One of my other favourites is Eryngiums (sea holly) with their very architectural spiny foliage below the flower head. Hylotelephium (previously Sedum) have strong umbellifer flower structures which can look good right into Spring. Late flowering Clematis (group 2) can …

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Small Garden – Big Impact

In a small garden it is important to have year-round interest and interesting focal points, limiting the amount of materials used and how they make the space feel. Here I have used scaffold boards horizontally that are quite thin so as not to make the space feel any smaller by “stretching” the eye and giving the impression the space is bigger? Although I wouldn’t normally condone the use of Astroturf, this was rescued from going into landfill so I decided to utilise it and help reduce the carbon footprint; giving one a feeling of unity throughout the whole design. Below it is a harsh concrete base which unfortunately, due to drains etc; had to be left. Gravel could have been used, or paving laid diagonally again making the space feel bigger. Consider seating, and when/where you will get the sun? This is a basement apartment and gets sun mainly in …

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