auntie betty

Latest posts by auntie betty


Posted: 23/08/2012 at 06:39

Could you use hedging to separate areas so you can't see it all from the house? Or maybe keep it to lawn but have large 'island' beds, perhaps with a large tree and shrubbery to at least create a 'path' around those beds? Maybe you should consider making the valley into a water feature - not fighting nature! Could it be a large bog garden bisecting the whole, perhaps with a bridge over? Very tough to be more specific without any photos... It may be worth you investing in a one-off consultation with a garden designer just to get some overall layout ideas and then do the actual work yourself. In big area, mistakes could easily be more costly than the consult... Do make sure you use someone with experience of landscaping large gardens though. Or maybe your local college garden design college would welcome the chance to have their students use it as a hypothetical project - they submit designs to their tutor, and you get copies to peruse after they've been marked with tutor's comments. Does sound like your plot may have enough difficuties to make it interesting for them. Just a thought... 

really need help

Posted: 22/08/2012 at 07:20

Hi, my boys are 3 and 4. I'd say do it this way:

1. Clear up

2. Sort boundaries (paint, clip hedges, whatever).

3. Hard landscaping. I'd go for a simple, preferably completely level, patio. Like you say, minimises mud dragging in. Mine use ours for scootering, and I have a builder's tray I put out now and again with play sand in for them.

4. Lawn. Prepare and turf the remainder.

5. Any other permanent features - trellis dividers, walls, whatever. I'd keep level changes to a minimum for safety reasons - its no good having a garden that mens mum's constantly running around behind the kids in case they trip - she should be sitting out there with a brew, supervising from her comfy chair!

6. Only after all that can you really start thinking about planting. You need time to assess how sunny or shady or windy or whatever certain areas are before you can choose appropriate plants. There's no rush - why not wait and see where your wife tends to sit - then site some beds where it'll give her either privacy, a good spot to watch the kids, and maybe a nice view. Maybe site another based on the view from the back windows. Maybe one to hide something you don't want to look at. Think about having a focal point for each of these 'key' spots. Maybe a small tree, or a large architectural shrub, or some other kind of feature. When you've got these bits planned to do their jobs, then think about linking them together. Do they work best as 'islands' .or should you connect them? Then think about planting. Start with the biggest plants and then fill the spaces between. Plant things either of decent size, or in decent clumps - nothing makes a small space seem smaller than a 'dolly mixture' border. Don't buy herbaceous plants in ones - for a garden your size, plant in 'triangles' made from 3 plants at a time. Also try to repeat a few of these triangles in different areas - it keeps it looking unified. Hardy geraniums are good for this - they'll grow almost anywhere so are likely to thrive regardless of aspect.

Anyway, that's how I'd go about it. If you didn't plant a thing until spring, you'll still have a useable, much improved space in the meantime, and you'll have had chance to research the planting. If you're really keen to get the planating fabulous, invest in the rhs planting combinations book. You start with one plant you wanna use, look it up, and it gives suggestions for things that look nice/grow well with it. Then look that one up... and so on. Definitely helps the novice a lot, and cheaper than buying the wrong things and ending up replacing.

Good luck, Bx

Something for a windy corridor

Posted: 22/08/2012 at 06:56

You might consider a clump-forming bamboo - phyllostachys aurea are toughies and won't wander off like so many bamboos do. I use them for exactly this problem (though my corridor is only 4ft wide) and it works well. You can easily keep the base as small as you need simply by pruning out unwanted stems at the base. The only caveat I'd mention is that it will arch downwards when rained on heavily, so if its an area you need to pass through frequently you might need to keep a broom handy so you can whack it before you walk past - otherwise you'll get a major shower if you bump it! Does the job though, filtering the wind rather than trying to stop it entirely, so it doesn't snap in the wind or force it to funnel past even more strongly than before. If that doesn't appeal, a bit of narrow trellis with something tough like one of the more ornamental ivies (clotted cream is lovely) on it would also filter wind, and shouldn't blow down provided you dont let it get too thick - keep it to the shape of the trellis leaving plenty of 'windows' so the air can pass through. If you let it grow too thick, like a hedge, it'll catch the gale and blow down. Both these things are evergreen - essential, I would think, as wind tends to be more of an issue in winter.

Get Rid of your Lawns

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 08:41

Hah, I say rootle as well! Thought I was the only one. I call insects and all things leggy grobies. You?

Get Rid of your Lawns

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 06:06

Does nobody else have children? I'm as eco-friendly as the next person, but as a mum one of my garden's main roles is to provide a safe and interesting environment for two small boys to play in. They're out there rain or shine and are fast becoming little biologists - forever dibbling in the wildife pond, grubbing for interesting bugs and learning about the plants (they're fascinated by the way things are alive and change week to week). I don't water my lawns and use an electric mower as infrequently as possible (because I can't be faffed), but I'd never be without grass entirely. I do think front lawns are generally a bit pointless - every one I've had I've removed in favour of weed membrane and stone chips (cat's don't poo in it, unlike gravel). Then I plant decent beds of tough, low maintenance plants (though not necessarily boring), and perhaps some hedging for extra green. That way I get a pretty frontage but no watering and little maintenance, which I resent doing on an area I only see to pass through especially as taps tend to be round the back!

Bramble invasion

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 05:48

I have similar problems with my neighbours' brambles and bindweed spiling through and over the boundary. Their entire garden needs an ASBO. If you can get in to do it, strim off the top growth to a foot or so from the ground. Wait a bit til new growth starts to show, then spray with bramble killer. When the leaves start to go brown, spray again. That should do it. If you can't get in to chop back, just spray what you can reach. You may have to do it a few times and keep watch for new growth, but you'll get there. If its any consolation, you'd have to poison even if you could get in - you'd never dig out really estalished brambles anyway. BTW, if you'r worried about poiso ending up all over, you can make a cardboard or plastic cone (narrow) and tape it to the nozzle of your gun to 'focus the beam'! x

Lawn levelling with step

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 05:37

I'd do it while the grass is actively growing so it recovers quicker. Avoid hot dry spells - the grass'll get the huff and you'll get your neck sunburnt! x

rooms in my garden

Posted: 13/08/2012 at 18:47

Rustic log fences/arbours with wires and rambling roses make good screens. Even a temporary 'screen' of verbena bonarienses works well - it dies back in winter so the view changes. Placing a decorative urn, seat, or focal plant with strong form or vibrant foliage colour at the end of each sight-line encourages your eye or your feet to keep going. If you want to hide the posts supporting trellis or fencing you can't beat conifers. Look up ellwoodii. Bamboos screen well too - just go for clumpers like phyllostachys so they won't run If you're in for the long game, hornbeam or beech hedging works very well - you can even clip 'windows' through it to give just a glimpse beyond. Try searching google 'images' for "garden rooms" for some inspiration. As a rule,separating a garden this way tends to make it feel larger rather than smaller,as you might expect. Bx

My dream garden

Posted: 08/07/2012 at 05:46

i dont remember 1976, being not quite in utero til the end of that year. I do remember one year in the 80s when our Yorkshire garden hit 90 in the shade. Utterly miserable time for me as I had chickenpox and was dying of itchy. There was an invasion of jellyfish that summer. I've never been a sun worshipper - I'd like it to rain all night to keep the garden fresh, but then be sunny with puffy clouds, a little breeze, and about 20 degrees all the time. That'd do me fine. I spent a year living in mainland China where you literally never saw the sun for all the smog - the sky was constantly just brown and hazy, and temps were -20 in winter and 40 in summer. No real weather as such - just freezing or boiling with occasional drizzle. The thing I missed the most about home - along with dairy products and potatoes - was how changeable and varied our weather is. Being over there was like groundhog day.  And I may have seen 15 plants the whole year. Not in a rush to go back to that town!

How should I shape my pittosporum

Posted: 07/07/2012 at 06:31

Its normal notgreen, panic not. Pruning now is fine - there's time yet for the ends to toughen up, and probably even to regrow a fair bit. Most geraniums (unless they're labelled as needing full sun) will do absolutely fine in shade, though IMHO you look a little bit tight for space. You might also consider ajuga reptans - one of the purple-leaved varieties. Commonly available and ultra easy.

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