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.
What a wonderful Christmas we all had here at How Green! We kicked off the holiday in great style with our annual Christmas party. The dining room was turned into a Winter wonderland, decorated beautifully and Christmas carols filled the air!
As is the tradition here at the nursery, there is no turkey with all the trimmings, not even a Christmas pud! This is through choice however and our loyal workforce unanimously vote in each year without fail……. fish & chips!!! Christmas crackers, hats and jokes aside, it’s then off to the very welcoming Henry 8th pub in Hever for liquid refreshment!
To nurse the sore heads, staff are given plenty of time off over the festive period. We’re now all refreshed and ready to crack on with the coming season.
We’re working flat-out, potting up perennials and seed sowing ready in time for Spring. This year our stock range has again increased by over 400 plants, bringing to total nearly 4000 different plants. These can all be seen in our new 2013 catalogue available on request right now.
Sales have started positively with our quality potted bulbs leaving to garden centres in our area. The photo below shows a great order heading out to our good friends at Coolings Garden Centre at Knockholt.
This week the weather has taken a real turn as Britain is gripped with ‘The Beast From the East’! Sub-zero temperatures down to -7˚C has made life difficult at How Green. Bulbs frozen in the sand and perennials like blocks of ice, finding work for our staff has been hard!
So the last couple of days we’ve undone the work shackles and started to make the nursery look all Christmasy! The tree has gone up in our tea hut and it is festooned with really bling tinsel and decorations! Our staff have also been working really hard on our Christmas potted arrangements. All tastefully created using high quality wicker baskets, bulbs and moss.
Mother nature has done a fantastic job of decorating the rest of the nursery! The hoar frost we’ve had the last few days has been nothing short of spectacular! The surrounding trees and landscape have looked wonderful. Our grasses show why they are so architecturally pleasing at this time of year if not cut down until Spring.
Be sure not to miss next weeks special Christmas instalment! Get involved with our Christmas quiz extravaganza that you will be able to download from our availability.
We at How Green are very particular when it comes to the quality of our plants. Great care and attention is given to get our plants looking as best they can for you! No more so than our potted bulb range.
We adopt the traditional method of growing our bulbs in sand beds. As can be seen from the photo’s below, we place 4-5″ of sand on top of the bulbs. This ensures lovely tight, even growth. It is a very labourious, time consuming method that is rarely employed these days, but we stick to our principals! We also treat our bulbs with a fungicide for disease free plants.
The bulbs are placed in their cosy sand beds in early September. They take a couple of months to root through and develop shoots. We then take them out of the sand in November. At this point the shoots are white in colour as they have been devoid of light. To ‘green them up’, we bring them inside for a few days and treat them to some basal heat.
We concentrate on the Christmas market with Hyacinths and Narcissus, with the rest of our range following in the New Year. To get in the Christmas spirit, we decorate our Hyacinths with moss, a Christmas tag and Holly. We also have a range of beautiful Christmas planters to buy as gifts!