A friend of mine has asked me to help her plan a planting scheme for a new garden. This is not something I have done before, but I was happy to help. I usually design by trail and error – luckily for me most plants can be easily moved if they are in the wrong place. Thankfully my friend Gillian already had a colour scheme in mind and knew the overall affect she wanted to achieve – more of a cottage garden style rather than anything too formal.
The garden itself is in Aberdeen and had been cleared to make room for a new wooden studio. Gillian’s daughter is very keen on spinning – the woollen type, not the cycling one. As spinning wheels take up quite a bit of space they decided that she should move this hobby/business out of the house. You can read more about Ashleigh’s spinning on Happy Days Hand Spinning. The whole process of turning a fleece into wool is fascinating.
The garden is south facing and sheltered. The soil seems to be good, neither clay nor sand. I didn’t test the pH but Aberdeen soil usually tends to be slightly acidic.
So here is the garden.
The main border on the left is what we are concentrating on first. The border on the right is quite narrow and shady, that will be done second.
The colour scheme is pastel with yellows, blues and pinks and we will concentrate on a good summer display. Gillian feels as I do that although we need a few evergreens, the main impact of the garden should be in the summer months.
Working our way from the bottom. . .
The middle of the garden contains a small pond. There used to be a much larger pond and as there are still a lot of frogs in the garden, it was necessary to leave them somewhere to lay their frogspawn. These will be taken to the nearest wildlife pond so that the garden frog population doesn’t increase further.
Nearer the top of the garden is a mature white rose, which will provide a lovely backdrop.
There are also a couple of climbing hydrangeas against the wall and another much larger one on the opposite wall.
Looking up towards the house there is a lovely variegated holly providing quite a splash of colour in the corner. There is also a small apple tree trained against the blue trellis.
Looking towards the house and left you can see a couple of mature climbing hydrangeas.
The narrow border has a mature ivy and more hydrangeas. There is also an interesting unknown shrub in the corner which will be exciting to see as it leafs and flowers.
So that is the tour of the garden, now to the drawing board.
Gillian had looked on the web and in books and made a Pinterest board to collect her plant ideas. I had also sent her a list of any of my plants I thought would be suitable. At least she didn’t want purple – so that ruled out a lot of my plants and made choosing that much easier.
We then measured up the garden and did a scale drawing on some tracing paper. Neither of us knew how to do this on the computer! We had a cup of tea and looked at the plant choices. It was actually surprisingly easy to come up with which plants we were going to use and where we could put them. There was only one plant we didn’t agree on – a large pink Lavatera for the bottom corner near the studio. Gillian had had this plant before and really liked it. It is not one of my favourite plants as it can look really messy. It would also need a lot of maintenance to keep it in check. I do have an ally in Ashleigh, who also thought it would be unmanageable.
We first thought about a couple of evergreen plants that would also provide interest in the spring/summer.
Choisya: This can have wonderful scented white flowers and shouldn’t grow too large. I like the one with narrow leaves, Choisya dewittiana ‘White Dazzler‘. Gillian has found a new variety, also with narrow leaves, but with pink flowers. Choisya ternata ‘Apple Blossom‘.
The plan is to have this up near the house.
Mahonia ‘Soft Caress‘: I have this in my garden but it is quite young and hasn’t flowered yet. The leaves are gorgeous and again it shouldn’t grow too large. The yellow flowers will provide lovely late summer interest. This is quite a new, non prickly variety of mahonia.
This will be a focal point the far side of the pond from the house.
Lavatera clementii ‘Rosea’: The jury is out on this one!
However I do feel we need something tall for the back corner near the studio. We are thinking about Vibernum plicatum f.tomentosum ‘Kilimanjaro’. Although this grows quite tall, 3m, it doesn’t spread out as much as the Lavatera would do. Does anyone know this plant – what are your thoughts on using it for a small garden?
Siberian Iris ‘Tropic Night’
This pale blue iris grows quite tall and I felt it would be lovely along the back of the little pond.
Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’
This would be to the left of the pond and would be a lovely backdrop for some Coneflowers.
Echinacea purpurea ‘Rubinglow’
In front of the Perovskia.
Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Amethyst’
This sea holly looks to be a wonderful blue – I think I will get some myself too.
Other plants still in the running are:
Hollyhocks (pink), Prostanthera cuneata (this evergreen plant has wonderful fragrant leaves and white flowers), Delphiniums, Zalusianskya ovata (these night scented phlox have the most gorgeous flowers that open in the evening), Ajuga, Cosmos, Ilex crenata ‘Golden Gem’ (this is a lovely bright green evergreen shrub that doesn’t grow too large),
a yellow achillea, some short pink phlox . . . . . .
There are so many plants to choose from it is really difficult just choosing a few. The ones we do choose have to give a lot of value with all round interest or a long flowering period. They have to be easy to control and not grow too large.
We would really appreciate your comments on our ideas or any further suggestions you might have.