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    29/11/2011 at 12:42

If you’re keen to know the whys and wherefores of garden design, enter this forum. Suggest planting combinations, talk about the latest trends and recommend inspiring gardens to visit.

Daniel Haynes


02/12/2011 at 19:03

If you would like to see a garden that contrasts the English country garden in rooms style with the modern, visit Kiftsgate Manor Gardens where one of the rooms in the top garden has been re-designed in ultra-modern style.  No perennial borders in this one. I wil try to put its photo on. It does not seem to be uploading yet.

    02/12/2011 at 19:14

Hello happymarion, it's lovely to see you on the forum. I'm ashamed to confess I've never been to Kiftsgate - I must go. I'm sorry you've had trouble uploading your image. Could you try again over the weekend, and let us know how you get on? If you have any further difficulty our tech team will sort it out for you.

02/12/2011 at 19:55

Trying again to upload a photo.  Too many bytes so will try again.

 Success!!!  It appears one has to keep the image below 10 megabytes.  Anyway I am sure you can see enough of this garden to realise the pleasure comes from sitting in its cool green setting looking at the calm water and watching the sporadic little row of fountains. I took the photo from the bench seat at one end of the pool.

    02/12/2011 at 20:59

Ah, victory! Thanks for persevering. That is about as angular and formal a design as you could have, isn't it? Very striking...

    05/12/2011 at 12:24

Hello Happymarion,

That's a lovely photo. It gives me the opportunity to talk about the benefits of conifers in gardens. So many people don't like them. But where would your Kiftsgate pool be without the magnificently cut yew hedges around it? I love conifers. Does anybody else have a good photo / story about gardening with conifers?


The Gardeners' World web team

05/12/2011 at 12:41

You don't have to convert a Scots lady to the benefit of conifers.  I love my Scots pine the birds or squirrels brought me in the front garden and they go so well with heathers.  I still have Adrian Bloom's book - they were all the rage in island beds in the 70's so are "retro" now, but then I still go shopping with my retro woven plastic shopping bag and it gets greatly admired!  Part of the charm of the Bristol botanic garden are the lovely yew hedges which were in the old house garden (late19thC) when the Garden moved there in 2005.  One long one will be the backdrop to the new native meadow.  As you say Emma a yew hedge is a great backdrop.

    06/12/2011 at 10:10

Hello Happymarion,

I'm so glad you allowed your scots pine seedling to grow. A mature scots pine with its red bark is a very beautiful thing. Pine forests are very important for the beleaguered red squirrel too.

Emma. team

11/12/2011 at 15:43

So does the design team have any ideas for my new  - potager style - on the site of the old one which I have been digging and manuring for 47 years?  I have been religiously saving for its construction since last April.  It sits almost dead in the middle of my very long garden and is oblong in shape.  At my age I have decided to become No-Dig so raised beds are the order of the day and somewhere to sit and put my tools and drink flask are mandetory.  One thing is very important - the reputation my garden has for exceptional ptoductivity must not be jeopardised and good wildlife must be encouraged.  i will try to find

a photo that shows where the veg, patch is in relation to the rest of the garden.

11/12/2011 at 15:49

The early potatoes and onions shown here are in an oblong which is a tenth of the breadth of the veg. patch and a twentieth of the length.

20/12/2011 at 20:19

Emma and happymarion2. I have half an acre at the back of my house on Skye. I'm looking to create something interesting but not too structured that will create shelter for my raised beds, other than the fences i have built this year. The ground has marsh grasses, it's on a peninsula into a sea loch, and although not boggy it holds the heavy rain we've had for the last 2 months and is exposed to the prevailing winds.  I have half thought about various types of hedge and after reading your comments I'm wondering about yew hedges. Being a novice with little experience and trying to learn everything at once I don't know how hardy and how fast growing they are. Do you think they are a possibility? Any other suggestions would be gratefully received.

22/12/2011 at 22:09

Hi Steve. That's a very exposed site you have there. Yew is tough as old boots and will thrive as long as your ground isn't waterlogged. I'd suggest planting it on the leeward side of your fence, then remove the fence once the yew has really got going. It's often considered slow-growing, but I've found it is slow for the first year, like most trees, while it's getting its roots well established. After that, it will grow quite quickly. One thing to watch though: make sure it has reasonable air circulation between it and the fence. Otherwise, it will grow a funny shape and you may get fungal infections. The beauty of yew, unlike most conifers, is that you can cut it really severely if it grows the wrong way, and will happily regenerate from old wood. Apart from waterlogging, they're hard to kill!

22/12/2011 at 22:48

Have you onsidered a mixed hedge of nativeshrubs and trees to benefit the wildife - birds, bees,butterflies and insects of all sorts, Steve?  If you go to the Jordans Cereals site and go backa few pages youwill find they have just planted such a hedge.  Not only will it be beautiful but you will have wonderful crops in your veg.and fruit garden.  With half an acre you can indulge in all kinds of gardening and I suggest the minimum of hard landscaping and thousands of bulbs as well as a feature hedge.  Once you have shelter you can expand your horizons.  May I recommend Matthew Wilson's book on New Gardening?

23/12/2011 at 07:50

Thanks for the advice you two. There's plenty of scope to develope both types of hedges. My fences filter the wind rather block it and the ground is slightly sloping, so it's looking good for the yew hedge.     I'll have a look into your suggestions happymarion. I've seen a few local shrubs I've been thinking about and I've planted a few small trees with eyes to the future. A bottom corner of my garden is boggy where all the water drains, so there's a possibility of a water garden and I've sown loads of wild flower seeds this year so I'm waiting for the results next year. I'm waiting with great expectations for the hundreds , not thousands yet!, of bulbs I've planted. It's all a learning curve, so I'm going to check out your book suggestion and probably treat myself for Xmas.  Thanks again and all the best to one and all.

26/12/2011 at 22:04

Joy!  Included in my Xmas Presents was acopy of Joy Larcom's book, "Creative Vegetable Gardening" with lots of information on potager design.  Just what I needed.

28/12/2011 at 10:43

Dear happymarion2, re your veggie patch, have you considered circles/semi-circles instead of the usual squares and rectangles? This would turn it into more of a decorative feature than a strictly utilitarian one.

28/12/2011 at 14:58

Oh, Sue, if only I could afford that!  I'm afraid rectangles will have to be the order of the day with the plants themselves in circular or semicircular blocks.  The sides of the raised beds will be of treated wood which does not bend very far!  There are lots of potagers illustrated in Joy Larkcom's book which look very lovely because of the planting.  And at 83 I am better on straight paths than curved, I think.  The main idea of the potager is to make it easier, by providing raised beds and paths to work from , for me to carry on gardening and still have my beloved fresh veg, and fruit to eat.

29/12/2011 at 11:30

Hi All, jumping quickly back to conifer's.

 I'm not sure what it is, but they seem to be finding new impitus amongst gardeners these days.

I have developed a simple scheme in my front garden for them. I wanted to make an impact but keep it simple to allow me to focus my energy on my rear garden.

In thier wisdom my house builders decided to grace my garden with 4 circular manholes! Although to be far they do sit an a nice pattern either side of the main structure to my house on slightly in front of the other. I have used this as my inspiration and invested in four large pots, which I have filled with four conifers, 2 in a lime green and 2 in the more traditional dark green shade. I intend to train the lime green ones in a globe with the dark green ones in a more natural cone shape. I have complemented these with some heathers in large window boxes and have matched the shades as best as possible, again my intention is to match these with the conifers in shape, but in 2 sets of three as follows  oAo oAo. These are my intentions but I will let you know ow things pan out. Hope this principle is of use to someone. Sorry no pictures at present as I bought quite young plants and they don't represent the shapes I have discussed quite yet.

03/01/2012 at 11:15

I moved in with my fiance in May and to say the garden was overrun was a huge!!!!!!! understatment. Since his wife passed a few years ago he lost interest in maintaining it and so the ivy had taken hold of the fences. The weeds were as high as my waist (about 3ft) and growing in every space possible and he used the garden (which is mostly slabbed) as a place to dump anything he didn't want in the house. It was mess!

But after 2 weeks of hacking and clearing and a whole builders skip full to the brim later we were back to a blank canvas. The only thing left in the borders was a beautiful magnolia tree.

The garden is mostly slabbed but there is a wall that shapes the raised borders around the garden. The soil is very tough clay so we worked good quality soil and compost about a foot down in to it to give it some nutrients ready for our plants.

Last year I grew 5 varieties of lovely sunflowers as well as french marigolds, petunias, variety of scented climbers and other numerous colourful beauties. We filled the borders with them as well as perinnials finishing it off with barked wood chippings. It looked lovely. In the bottom right corner of the garden we built a hen house and run and bought 4 lovely chickens which have given us fresh eggs everyday since we bought them.

My partner (for at least 2 weeks) couldn't say anything about the garden apart from "you know what?...I'm impressed" haha. His first wife preffered a plain green garden but now it was a bright and colourful one. To top it off we jet washed the slabs back to their off white colour and bought a lovely patio set. It was beautiful.

However the wet winter has taken hold and the garden is looking pretty pathetic to say the least, haha. But I have my walk in green house now and plans to convert oneside of the garden into an allotment area ready to grow vegetables which means pulling up some slabs and getting to work on the ground underneath.

My new years resolution is to make the garden even more beautiful than last year.

06/01/2012 at 14:43

Potager has been designed and quote is coming in a week or two  I hope I can afford it!  The bugs have been sorted out , thanks to Kate,and happymarion2 has now disappeared and the old happymarion back in her place. Kas, you have tackled your big redesign job with so much enthusiasm already I'm sure your New Years  resolution is going to be kept.  Do let us see some photos later on.

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