More great sunny weather

More great sunny weather here in Berkhamsted.  Top marks to those of you who have cleared up last year’s dead leaves…

…I know, it’s a job we all hate!  But really, it’s not doing your lawn any good whatsoever by leaving them (please excuse the pun!).  And thinking that the lawnmower will do the trick during the first cut really isn’t the answer either!

I’m sure you’re as pleased as I am that the weather is starting to improve slightly, though I’m still wearing my cashmere thermals!  It seems to have been such a cold and long winter and I’m seeing lots of shrubs and plants that have been either killed-off or badly damaged by the cold, especially those which are not totally frost-hardy.   We’ve seen two winters in a row now where we’ve been blasted by near-artic conditions; it’s really worthwhile choosing the right plants appropriate to your garden aspect.  If you are in any doubt, please give me a call and we can design a garden that won’t ‘keel over’ at the first sign Jack Frost.  Plant once, plant right is my motto!

From Across the Water

A recent article from The American Society of Landscape Architects highlighted findings from their member survey that are compatible with trends in the UK.  The survey asked for predictions of the most popular ideas and elements in garden design for 2011.

The top outdoor living features reported some of the most basic: light, fire, food and a place to sit and enjoy it all; whilst the most popular outdoor features reflect an interest in modern technology with stereo systems, internet access and televisions all adding to the growing trend of taking what we enjoy inside outside.

When it comes to landscape elements, efficiency and sustainability reign supreme; the most popular being low maintenance landscapes, native plants, water-efficient irrigation, ornamental water features and vegetable gardens.  Other popular sustainability features include permeable paving, reduced lawn and rainwater harvesting.

Source: 2011 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Residential Trends Survey.

5 Good Tips for March

The longer days and more clement weather provides a good opportunity for ‘Spring’ tasks such as preparing and sowing seed beds, cutting back winter shrubs and generally tidying up around the garden.  My top 5 tips this month are:

  1. Plant shallots, onions and new potatoes, known as ‘earlies’; planted now your potatoes will be ready for digging May through to July.
  2. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials.  These are your plants which grow and bloom over the Spring, Summer and Autumn then die back every Winter before returning in the Spring from their roots rather than re-seeding themselves as an ‘annual’ would do.
  3. Mow the lawn on dry days (if needed) and scarify at the end of the month to remove dead grass, thatch and moss.
  4. Cut back any Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) grown for their colourful winter stems.
  5. Deal with any new weed growth before it takes hold and gets out of hand.

RHS Shows and Events

The RHS events calendar is now available online at even the web page itself is glorious!

Local Gardens

If you plan on visiting any local gardens this Spring I can recommend Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury.  The main gardens re-open 30 March from 10am to 5pm, but of course it does get busy at weekends.  And Chenies Manor House near Rickmansworth, although smaller, is very interesting horticulturally, with a fabulous tulip display from mid-April and an Easter Egg Festival on Easter Monday 25 April 2011


The Northbridge Road Household Waste Recycling Centre in Berkhamsted takes scrap metal, tyres, freezers, car batteries and just about everything else you need to recycle.  Visit for more information.

Bumble Bee Conservation

Bees will be coming out of hibernation now and need the right plants and shrubs to feed from; Salix Caprea (Pussy Willow) is a favourite at this time of year.  The plight of the bumble bee is well documented and we can all do our bit to help these important pollinators by planting nectar-rich plants in our gardens.  Take a look at this easy to read website from the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust, packed with lots of useful and interesting information More about Bumble and wildlife planting next month.

Need Help?

It’s only after I’ve sat down to write my newsletter that I am reminded of the full enormity of tasks in the garden, really at any time of year, there’s always something to do.  If you are thinking of doing something in or to your garden from simple cottage garden planting to a structured design, then why not give me a call and I would be delighted to put together some ideas for you. And if you want to learn gardening skills I can help you with this’s never too late to learn.

I hope you find these tips and hints useful and look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,