Today we're highlighting the often forgotten, but very important ground cover.
These plants are so important in helping a garden look more established by covering the ground quickly, so that there is less bare soil, which at the same time suppresses weeds (an added bonus).
All of the plants featured here work well in shady conditions:
One of those seasonal moments that really is a showstopper, is the emergence of Alliums, in this case, Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' or Dutch Garlic.
There are many varieties offering different colours and shapes but for reliable shows year on year, this one is hard to beat!
Alliums are herbaceous perennials that you can plant as bulbs in autumn or as plants now. Their linear or strap-shaped leaves, which can have the scent of onion or garlic, normally die down by flowering time. The flower heads start as tight green buds and gradually unfurl (although it can seem that it happens overnight!) into perfectly round purple heads.
On closer inspection, each head is a mass of small, star-shaped flowers with a lovely vivid rosy-purple colour.
They work really well in flower borders, amongst other flowers and grasses, in both formal and informal planting schemes.
To get even more from them in your garden, you can leave the flower heads on and watch as they turn from purple to green and then wonderful spherical seed-heads which can be cut in spring and bought indoors.
Thanks to our lovely client Keith, who put together this beautiful video of the Alliums we planted in his garden.
Wisteria really do put on a show at this time of year. Displaying stunning long pannicles of scented flowers, they make a fantastic feature of a house or archway.
This perennial plant can survive up to 100 years and has long been associated with romance. In the Victorian language of flowers, wisteria symbolizes “over passionate love or obsession,” referring to the choking nature of the vine.
Actually it's their woody stems that help identify where the plant originates from - if the stems twine clockwise it’s a Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda), but counterclockwise, then it's likely the plant originates from China (Wisteria sinensis), which is actually the most common one found here in the UK.
Unfortunately Wisteria have a reputation of being tricky to grow. Well, they do require lots of support and regular pruning when they are young, they are very thirsty for water and food, and they only flower once the tree is about 12 years old. But looking at these displays, it would seem that the old saying is right - good things come to those that wait.
These Iris flowers are stunning, and in such a beautiful array of colours, it's easy to see why the species is named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow. And they're not just a pretty face......whatever the colour of the petals, you'll notice that they all have bright lines that lead into the flower head; these are clever landing pads to guide pollinators directly to the nectar.
These eye-catching Irises are happiest in full sun and well-draining soil. But don't fear if you have the wrong soil or conditions in your outdoor space, just grow them in pots - make sure their roots are partially exposed, that they have good drainage and then you can move them around, along with the sun!
We also like Iris for their upright sword-like leaves, which last much longer than the flower. They extend their season of interest and provide us with a unique texture in the border or in a gravel bed.
If you are cutting Iris to bring them indoors, then a useful tip is to remove any fading flowers, and that way you will encourage the remaining buds to emerge. Enjoy!
Blossom has always been a symbol of new life, announcing a fresh start every year, and boy has it been grabbing our attention this month.
Billowing clusters of flowers adorn so many of our urban trees that it's easy to spot them from our windows, even if we can't get out.
The blossom from fruit trees and berry bushes is extremely prolific but delicate and are often gone with a gust of wind; it's always lovely to spot a beautiful pink carpet under a tree's canopy.
Blossom is not only good for our souls but great for wildlife too, whether that's bees on cherry and apple, or caterpillars and butterflies on goat willow and elderflower. And then later in the summer, song thrushes and blackbirds eat the fruit produced by these trees and badgers, mice, voles and foxes eat the leftovers that fall to the ground.
So celebrate Hanami (the traditional Japanese flower viewing) wherever you are and connect with nature to lift your spirits, even if it's just for a moment or so.
Until tomorrow x
Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Bleeding heart) which used to be known as Dicentra, is a fantastically graceful plant featuring in gardens at the moment.
Whilst it dies back in the winter, it surely earns a spot with its graceful arching form and prettiest of heart shaped flowers. (It's easy to see where it's common name comes from!).
Tolerating some shade as well as sun (as long as the soil stays moist), it is easy to grow and with its fresh fern like foliage, it sits well amongst ferns in a woodland or can be used in a cottage garden style of planting. Its elegant arching stems light up shady areas and add height and delicate movement.
The lovely images of the 'Alba' - white, from come from a clients garden (thank you Keith!)
If you want a real statement in your garden or front drive, this is the tree to go for - Cornus controversa.
With tiered branches that grow in layers up the trunk, it's easy to see how it got its name 'Wedding Cake Tree'.
It looks spectacular grown on its own, as a single feature specimen - but you will need plenty of space around it, so that you can fully appreciate it's unique shape.
This particular variety is 'Variegata' and has lovely bright green leaves with cream margins. As an added bonus, Cornus controversa also carries small, cream flowers in the summer. These are followed by black berries in the autumn, when its leaves turn a warm yellow, before dropping to reveal its winter silhouette.
A tree for all seasons!
It's that time of year for Clematis montana to do it's thing, no matter what!
This beauty was spotted on a walk up a normally busy road, and it never fails to delight.
It's a deciduous climber which is great to use to cover buildings and fences, and scramble up though old trees. It works well over garden features such as pergolas and arches too.
As it loses it leaves in the winter it's a good idea to grow it with an evergreen climber or something with a different season of interest.
Another variety pictured here close up is Clematis montana rubens which has young bronze foliage, maturing to light green. We shared a photo of its buds and leaves not long ago. Suddenly the flowers are open, as it enjoys it's sunny position against a brick wall
Generally good in most soils and aspects, they just need their roots kept cool by other plants or perhaps pebbles around their base.
Pruning can seem a little off-putting with all the different pruning groups but the benefits of regular pruning encourages strong growth and flowering, keeping growth in check. As this is in pruning group one, they should be pruned after flowering - mid to late spring.
Just look at this beautiful Acer coming into leaf. The combination of its burgundy seed and lime foliage are just gorgeous!
We don't make any apologies for our gushing - this colour combination is one of our favourites, as shown with a shot here from our Hampton Court garden for the APL (Association of Professional Landscapers) in 2017; here we used a CorTen steel water bowl, surrounded by deep crimson Penstemon, fresh green Asplenium and bright-leaved Pennisetum 'Red Buttons'.
Anyway, we digress.....back to the Acer!
We not entirely sure of the variety, but it could be an Acer palmatum 'Osakasuki' which is one of the best Japanese maples to grow for autumn colour.
It has a lovely open habit, tiny flowers followed by red winged seeds, and bright green leaves which turn a brilliant scarlet in autumn; all in all it's perfect for growing as a focal point in the garden. And as it only grows to 4m, it's also great in a smaller spaces.
Just remember when you're planting any Japanese maples to use ericaceous (acidic) compost as this encourages its vibrant foliage colour.
A little word from us
We like to keep our eyes open to new inspiration and share our ideas and our work.