Category Archives: Good Planting combinations

Introducing a new ‘babe’ to the team. The Fabulous Frenchy…Pauline

Pauline brings bundles of style, colour and enthusiasm to the gardening team.  I love listening to her wonderful, lilting, french accent when discussing  all things horticultural.


Today Pauline gathered low growing bulbs and perennials, including primroses, Ipheion uniflorum or Spring Star and Cyclamen, and the small Hart’s tongue fern from around the garden to carefully plant up the gaps between the  steps.

I am hoping they won’t be overwhelmed by those Spanish Bluebells and Camassia that have found their way there too.


We also went into the woods to collect Hazel sticks for plant supports. These will be made in the coming weeks, as the perennials start emerging again in the warmer soil and longer days…

Hazel and Dogwood stems
Hazel and Dogwood stems

An early start at one of our jobs last week allowed me to share a cup of coffee with the client.  You know how much someone loves their flowers when you see them languishing in jars and vases on the kitchen table basking in the spring sunshine.





and finally, more by accident than design, this combination of a grass and white crocus in a pot together… on some level, it works!!






Orange Tuesdays


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Carols' delicious marmalade
Carols’ delicious marmalade


My home grown tommys
My home grown tommys

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Arum italicum
Arum italicum

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Visit to Villa Augustus, Dordrecht, The Netherlands



I went travelling with a group of garden enthusiasts on a trip organised by Bridget and Deborah from The Garden House Brighton.

One of the wonderful gardens we explored was Villa Augustus just outside Amsterdam. The Organic Kitchen garden certainly had the wow factor and is one to aspire to recreate. Carefully planned to provide fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs for the packed restaurant and buzzing clientele.

Flowers were growing in great combinations side by side the vegetables drawing a wealth of pollinating insects to the garden.

Fruit grown on cordons lined the paths making clever use of the space available and statues, a fountain, seating and a rill the length of the garden added surprise and charm to the practical rows of vegetables.

This is very much a ‘working’ garden, very well presented and inspiring to be in,  despite the cloudy skies and rainy day.


Lovely combination of Cosmos ‘Purity’ and white alliums
The beautiful flowers of Ipomea intertwined with the runner beans





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Zinnias and Cosmos

Highlights from a July garden on a soggy day

The pink flowers above are the fashionably late flowering perennials, Echinacea purpurea – just bursting out now. There are other interesting varieties and beautiful shades of Echinacea purpurea but none are as reliably hardy as this tough old boot and it is fabulous.


This is one of my first Dahlias in flower this season – D.’Karma Chocolate’ with a background of Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’, a white Hydrangea and brilliant red Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. I love the colour combo.



This bright pink Lychnis coronaria is another ‘Free spirit’ self-seeding around the garden and amazingly adding a well spaced and enjoyable colour combination to the purple Phlox in this border.


I had to add this photo of Trachelospernum jasminoides flowering madly at the front door. The perfume of this evergreen climber is heavenly.


Note to self : Allium sphaerocephalon need staking early on. We missed the opportunity and what a disaster. Allium sphaerocephalon luckily, look great in a vase.

Colourful containers

Now is the time to put together some plants for containers and hanging baskets. When you walk into a nursery or garden centre right now the choice can be so overwhelming. It really is a good idea to think about your scheme and plan what you want BEFORE you go shopping.
Where are the containers going to be? is it a sunny or shady area? What colour are the containers? Could you reflect the colour of the container in the colour of the bedding plants you are going to buy?
I recommend colours at the cold end of the spectrum – the Blues violets mauves lime greens and white that just sing out in shady areas and bright reds, orange, yellows vibrant pinks look fabulous in sunnier spots. (Be careful combining yellow and pink as only the right shades of each can work well together)
When you get to the shop always check the label to see if the plants will tolerate partial shade, as some just won’t flourish without sun.
Think about if you will be away for a couple of weeks in the summer. If you are, and your plants won’t get watered, stick with Pelargoniums and they will still be happy and flowering when you get home.
The front of my home faces North, so my palette of plants is limited. However that does mean I can enjoy the greens white and blues all the more! Here is my best combination for such a spot:
Lysimachia – for the trailing plant
Petunia – lime green (needs regular dead-heading)
Nicotiana – Green or white flowers, up standing but not too tall.
Lobelia – white and blue

Tulipa Lilac Wonder, I eat my words

In the early years of gardening for me it was a challenge to get to know my plants – their names, habit, tolerances and when they flowered, why they died and why they flourished, and then, did I really really like them anyway and why?

The next stage is planning good planting combinations where it is all about timing, structure and colour.  When your flower border has reached it’s pinnacle for the year and looks fabulous.  This is often planned, but of course can be quite by chance.

If you are extremely clever, with a good size budget to match, the third stage is for the border to hold its interest for all four seasons – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with wonderful successional planting. For that we have to turn to the great plants men and women such as Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto who were quite brilliant at it.

Back to me and a chance happening.  The Tulip Lilac Wonder that, whilst I admired the beauty of its form, the colour, let’s say surprised me a little! But now the Clematis montana is out and stunningly covered with blooms, the match is perfect.  A chance meeting but one that will be repeated I’m sure…

Clematis montana meets  Tulipa Lilac Wonder. Cool.
Clematis montana meets Tulipa Lilac Wonder. Cool.

(Unfortunately the photo doesn’t do it the justice it deserves 🙁   )