Last week the hard working staff at How Green finished a project to rejuvenate a prominent bed in Caterham on the Hill in Surrey. Working with the town’s parish council, we scrubbed out the tired, old shrubs and bedding.
The brief was a complicated one! A low maintenance, drought tolerant garden that has all year round interest, with the wow factor! Not a particulary easy remit!!
The shape and layout of the existing bed did not need changing and in fact it is a very well thought out shape and pleasing to the eye. Not the dull rectangular shaped beds we’re used to, it is an attractive half-moon shaped crescent, with a slope not too disimilar to a plaque bed.
After several meetings with the clients and deliberation over what style to go for, we settled on a design that incorporated many grasses, hardy, drought tolerant perennials and bulbs such as Alliums. The overall effect to give a prairie, naturalistic look.
Grasses add height and structure and have been planted in drifts, in keeping with the curves of the bed. Very hardy, long flowering perennials such as Nepeta Walkers Low, Salvia Caradonna & Agastache Blue Fortune have been used. In all, over 300 plants have been used, which in time will enhance the bed.
A big problem with the site was weeds! With low maintenance in mind, we used a permeable membrane to supress any weed growth. The membrane in turn allows water to pass through to the plants and also helps moisture retention in drier periods. To complete the look a layer of decorative shingle has been used.
The centre piece of the bed is a beautiful multi-stemmed Betula jacquemontii. With it’s silvery white bark on the main stem & branches it gives fantastic Winter interest. In time it’s canopy in the Summer will give a gentle dappled shade for the two benches under it.
To add Winter structure, some evergreen shrubs have been used and colourful Cornus (Dogwoods) to break the gloom. The spent grass heads will also be left over the Winter to add height and a sparkle with frost. Aged oak has been used as a feature and to give height and structure, especially for when the herbaceous plants become dormant.
Wettest drought ever comes to an end!
Last week saw the last of the water restrictions in our area finally lifted! Weeks and months of endless rain have helped top up under-ground water reserves.
It has come too late to help sales for the horticultural industry for this season, but hopefully we can start next season on an even keel. Hosepipe bans can effect the volume of plants sold as customers cut back to save on watering.
A spokesperson for South-East water has warned us still to be vigilant with our water use, as underground levels are still below average for the time of year. If we suffer another dry Autumn and Winter, the hosepipe ban could be put in place again next Spring.
Below shows some scenes from the nursery last week that saw some of the most violent downpours seen in years! You’re brave souls Purple Arbour Garden Design & Forget Me Not Plants!!
It was announced last week that large parts of the country would have domestic and council parkland hosepipe restrictions. This follows two consecutive very dry years, with well below average rainfall levels. We are now officially in a drought, worse than that of 1976.
Reservoir levels are clearly very down, and our underground aquifers are critically low. As of April 5th gardeners will not be allowed to water their plants with a hosepipe. This could potentially be very damaging to the horticultural industry. Gardeners may buy less plants or give up all together this season.
This is where we step in! We have to make our customers aware of saving water in the form of water buts and recycling brown water. There are also thousands of drought tolerant plants available that require less water once established.
Grasses, prairie style perennials and a lot of Mediterranean herbs are well suited to long periods of dry conditions. So come on – let’s not panic and give up! Piet Oudolf has inspired a prairie (new wave) style of planting that is highly fashionable and sought after at the moment.
Check out our downloadable availability lists that have a drought tolerant plant section. The list is very comprehensive and contains lots of exciting plants to keep you gardening this season!