When we think of romantic country gardens, a garden full of cottage garden plants comes to mind. Many do not realise that many of these plants are also herbs and help each other grow and thrive. Cottage garden plants and companion herbs are synonymous.

The different properties of companion herbs turns the garden into an organic garden; one that doesn't require toxic pesticides.


  • These were the gardens of the commoners or poor in England and contained everything the family needed for food and medicinal use.
  • Informal garden of a rambling nature that is interplanted with flowers, herbs, vegetables, berries, etc.
  • All space is used and plants are crowed in together to form a living mulch and conserve moisture and cut down on weeding
  • The beds are wide and paths are narrow


  • Flowers: Asters, Baby's Breath, Bachelor's Buttons, Clematis, Cosmos, Dame's Rocket, Delphinium, Cranesbill Geranium, Hydrangea, Hollyhocks, Iris, Lady's Mantle, Lavateria, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Peony, Petunias, Phlox, Poppies, Roses, Sweet William, Violet, Wisteria, Zinnias
  • Herbs: Artemisia, Artichokes, Basil, Bee Balm, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Chives, Coral Bells, Cornflowers, Costmary, Daisy, Dandelions, Dianthus, Dill, Echinacea, Evening Primrose, Feverfew, Foxglove, Garlic, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lovage, Oregano, Onions, Parsley, Peppers, Plantain, Rosemary, Sage, Sedum, Sunflowers,Thyme
  • Fruit: Blueberries, Strawberries, Apple Trees, Peach Trees Cherry Trees
  • Vegetables: Beans, Beets, Carrots, Eggplant, Loose leaf lettuce, Peas


  • Plants which release chemicals and help other plants grow and increase their productivity.
  • Plants which help enrich the soil by providing nutrients and organic matter or pulling up nutrients from deep within the soil.
  • Plants which provide shade or mulch for shorter plants and protect bare soil.
  • Plants which prevent pest problems by repelling unwanted bugs
  • Plants and herbs with the ability to attract beneficial insects, repel pest insects, and can even ward off weeds.
  • Companion plantings combine more than one crop in a given area, so garden space is used efficiently.


  • Create a bed that is wider than regular beds. No need for a designer. Create the bed to your liking.
  • Plant cottage garden plants and companion herbs closer together using all available space to help conserve moisture and cut down on weeding.
  • Any paths should be narrow.
  • Mix annuals in with perennials.
  • Use lots of colour.
  • It should be brimming full of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.
  • Add a bird bath and bird feeders.
  • Place a bench where you can sit and enjoy its beauty.
  • It should be inviting and bring pleasure and memories to everyone that looks at it.

Planting companion herbs takes a little know how, but it really isn't that hard to do if you plan out your garden, and know which herbs to use for what. You'll want to plant these in the spring, at the same time you would plant your vegetables and flowers. Knowing which ones to plant can eliminate the need to use toxic pesticides.

The main thing is be creative, do some experimenting and most of all have fun in creating your cottage garden. Enjoy!


Article by Jaylyn Huson


Jaylyn Huson is an herbalist and has grown and used herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes, along with making herbal wines for the last 30 years. Through trial and error she has found what works and what doesn't when it comes to making her herb and cottage gardens thrive.


The classic country garden is infinitely charming, with flowers and greenery bursting to create a wonderfully abundant feel. But where do you start? Follow our tips and advice to get the look.


Look after your soil. The secret to the cottage garden look is healthy strong plants, but undernourished soil cannot sustain an abundance of flowers and foliage. Improve soil fertility and moisture retentiveness with well-rotted farm manure, homemade compost or sacks of ready-made soil conditioners. Fork slow-release fertilisers into the soil early in the year around large shrubs and climbers to give individual plants a boost all season long.


One way to make a garden look full is to cover every scrap of bare soil. Ground-cover plants that stay quite low growing and spread across bare ground will do this.

Good choices include ivies, periwinkle and begonias. Epimediums are great for shady places, and stachys (lamb's ears) are ideal for sun. Split the plants every year in spring to increase your stock, and plant new ones to cover the area even faster.


The traditional cottage garden suits certain colours. You can't go wrong with these three steps. 

Step 1: Make sure there's lots of green as this is what gives the look of abundance and natural beauty. 

Step 2: Introduce touches of silver - use stachys to edge the pathway for an excellent contrast to the grass. 

Step 3: Add key spots of colour using roses and clematis. Try herbaceous perennials like campulanas, and annuals such as poppies. In general, deep blues, pale pinks and crimson, plum and purple all work well.


Later in the summer, Japanese anemones in pink or white will give a pretty display for weeks at a time when many flowers are setting seed or turning to autumnal colours.


Go for more traditional plants in your cottage-style garden. Here are our five favourite choices:

Alliums - are perfect for early summer flowering
Astrantia - is very cottagey and delicate looking
Lupins - are ideal for adding a shot of brilliant colour in early summer
Marguerites - seeds around freely but always looks fresh and cheerful
Sweet rocket - has an amazing evening fragrance


Article by Penny Day


Typical cottage garden rooms have a natural looking composition, giving the space a relaxed, informal atmosphere. Lush, heavily planted borders with areas for kitchen usage are tended between pathways of closely mown grass or hard landscaping. Creating a cottage-style garden room area is easy with this simple guide.

  1. Plan it out. Make a bird's eye view of your garden, showing the aspect of the house near by and orientate it by direction. This helps with your planting scheme as some plants love full sun but others thrive in shade. Include an outline of any existing features you want to keep like paths or borders. Now make a few copies - you may change your mind or end up incorporating several different plans in your final garden room.

  2. A part shade, part sun area for vegetables and herbs near the house serves the kitchen well but can also be planned into pots and baskets if space is limited. Alternatively, companion planting in amongst your flower borders can work very well indeed. Fruit plants and trees tend to prefer full sun, as do the woody Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, etc.

  3. List your favourites. What plants must you absolutely have? Include them in your plan as a list then consider their preferred positions. Indigenous plants common to the cottage garden are easy to place - just look at their habitats in nature. Ferns and foxgloves will wither in full sun, they want at least part shade and a shield from the full glare. For placement advice, keep your tallest specimens to the centre or the back of your planted areas.

  4. Filling in the gaps. Planting up a new design need not be a huge expense. Slips and cuttings, bulbs and seeds from neighbours, family and friends will help fill the gaps. Think seasonally too, what is there of interest in every area, throughout the year?

  5. Maintenance. A well prepared, compost rich soil is an excellent start and will save time feeding throughout the growing season. It's well worth the effort before any plants go in. Weeds can be kept under control by layering the surface of the soil with bark chippings although once planted up you will find that your plants will establish themselves and weeds will only pop up in blank spots where they are easy to find and easy to take out.

Garden rooms in cottage style are beguiling, romantic and bohemian; they draw us in and enchant with blasts of colour, variety of form and all-season use. Through careful forethought, planning and soil preparation you can construct an awesome garden room space, a true extension to your home's internal living area, and add considerable value to your home at the same time.


Article by Jewel Gallagher


Jools qualified with a honours medical degree in 2003. She is passionate about environmental matters and currently works from home as a company director.


Cottage garden style is a casual, colourful, easy, beautiful and cheerful celebration of flowers and herbs. I started small and continued to add to my garden. It is much less overwhelming to do ‘baby steps’, rather than to craft a large garden all at once.

To reduce the amount of watering and fertilising later, start right by using organic soil that is rich in nutrients. You will enjoy the gorgeous abundant blooms of happy plants that are thriving in ideal conditions. Healthy, well-nourished plants need little to no fertiliser. One of the best things about this type of garden is its plant density. This dense growth keeps roots cool and moist while crowding out any weeds. Moreover, some seeds will naturally fall to the ground and provide a whole new crop of flowers the following spring.
1. All new gardens should start the same way:

  • Assess the area for the amount of sunlight it receives in a day
  • Determine if the spot is normally dry or moist
  • If your soil is not ‘gardeners’ dream loam, add organic materials as needed to make it a great place for new growth to thrive

2. Define the borders of your new cottage garden:

I love the old picket fences, and incorporate them to delineate the boundaries of my gardens. I think they add to the old-fashioned feeling cottage gardens evoke. Perhaps you would rather use stones or some other materials to outline your garden. That’s the beauty of a cottage garden-there are no rules except yours!

3. Choose your plants. For me that is the most fun of the whole project. I prefer to use only perennial plant material, but you can certainly add annuals for a bright pop of instant colour.
Incorporate the plants that you love, and that work in your sunlight situation. As to choosing colours, I like to mix and match for a very informal look, as if nature painted the picture herself. But if you wish to use your favourite colours, or coordinate them with your house colour, or use complimentary colours, then that is what you should do. Again, there are no hard and fast rules with this type of garden.

4. Wind a drip hose in and around your cottage garden to ensure your plants get all the moisture they need and you won’t have to haul out the hose at all! Water ends up where the roots can access it easily. There are inexpensive timers available at local garden centres and online. Just set the on/off time and duration so your garden is watered automatically.

Once established, cottage gardens require a lot less water than traditional gardens. Mine doubles as a rain garden, so I rarely have to water it unless we have an extended dry spell during the hottest part of the summer. Also, my cottage garden faces towards the east. It receives about 6 hours of sunlight, most of which comes during the morning hours.

5. Mulching your garden is always an important step. Mulch holds in precious moisture and holds down weeds, plus it provides that finishing touch that pulls everything together. Use organic mulch like leaf mould or bark, and you have added another layer of nutrients as the mulch breaks down over time.

  • I make leaf mould by filling up a large black plastic leaf bag with leaves in the spring; tie it up and let it ‘cook’ in a sunny place for several months. It will break down into usable mulch and be ready for spreading on your gardens in the autumn.

Plants that produce nectar, seeds and seed heads are helpful for wild song birds. Nectar plants provide nutritious food during the warmer months; then in the wintertime the seed heads supply valuable nourishment when other seed sources are scarce.

The best gardens are those that bestow beauty and fragrance for us, as well as nourishment for wildlife and beneficial insects. Never use toxic weed killers or chemical fertilisers. Stick with natural and organic alternatives that do not harm us, our wildlife or our water supply.

Remember it is always best to use native plants. They have adapted to your particular climate and soil conditions. Native songbirds, butterflies and bugs look for those familiar and useful plants and shrubs. Your cottage garden will yield many far-reaching benefits for you and your local wildlife.


Article by Connie Smith


Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive. Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape. Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Visit today!


Gardening is fun and easy. But you just don't plant any flowers or put any elements on your garden. Successful gardening relies on careful planning with regards to your garden designs and to the right choice of plants and garden elements. The following are helpful tips for successful gardening.

Basically, this kind of garden is planted with old-fashioned flowers. You must have feature plants as well as filler and anchor plants. For this garden, roses are the best feature plants, and anchor plants are those that create a backdrop to the garden design. Evergreens, boxwood, conifers and other small trees are example of anchor plants. And due to its height, they are situated on the back of the flower beds. On the other hand, filler plants include hydrangeas, viburnum, hollyhocks, and lavender.

To add excitement to your garden design, you should create different areas within the garden, so that visitors will not be bored because they will be being to see different angles of the garden. Just remember to maintain proportion among all areas. And to emphasize the different areas, it is best to divide them with hedges which are made up of flowers like boxwood, wegiela, and other tall-growing plants. Divider plants are best if grown up to 6-8 feet high. Meanwhile, add fences (particularly picket fences) to your garden in order to emphasize your garden designs. You can also incorporate arbours to your garden. It evokes a feeling of romance, and enhances the feeling of entering a space. And then, you can plant climbing roses and other climbers to your arbours so that they will look more attractive.

Aside from arbours, it is good to have a gate along with your fences. This will protect your garden and will keep away unwanted visitors. You can choose from two-legged gates to four-legged ones and from unpainted wooden fence to white-washed iron gate. Paths are great in leading your visitors from your gate to your house. You can have straight paths, but curvy pathways are often more appealing. You can have paths made up of stones, pebbles, shells, bricks, or other material according to your preference (except concrete because it would be inappropriate). And to soften the edges of your paths, you can plants colourful flowers (be sure the flowers will match with other flowers present in your garden).

Those are just a few helpful tips in creating your English cottage garden. You see, given some ideas to start with, deciding on the garden designs you will be using is not too difficult at all. And if you are not confident enough with your own designs, you can have professional landscapers to do your cottage garden for you.


Article by Steven James


The English cottage garden is a style that is in re-discovery today. As in every successful revival, the new version improves on tradition with new insights and ideas. The English garden designed after the cottage style has been around for as long as there have been cottages in England. Of course, up until relatively recently, they weren't considered a style of English garden design at all. It's just that their beauty caught on with the gardening writers of the country after a while. People began to notice that the traditional English garden design used in poor cottages across the country really possessed a lot of excellent gardening know-how and aesthetics to hand down.

To look at the traditional English garden design for cottages, one thing is clear. The humble gardener always fills every space available in his garden with every useful plant he can get his hands on. The most useful kitchen garden plants are the ones that come first - fruit, vegetables and herbs. If blooming plants are found clinging to all kinds of places in an oddly recognizable way in the traditional English cottage, it's because these enter the garden in a supporting role - flowers and all of the herbs are always brought in as a way to fight pests with. And sometimes, to help supply the family medicine cabinet. Yarrow, for instance can help fight a fever.

The traditional English garden design in cottages was one of a recognizable kind of chaos. Rambling roses would be all over the house, cabbages, larkspur, gooseberries and poppies would always line all the garden paths, and hollyhocks would go along the boundary walls. The cottage garden was always so full of colour and so delightful that there was a charm there in the way everything seemed to be on top of everything else. It was the very image of domestic bliss, and it's a style that's in revival all over North America now. To do the same for your own home and garden, here's what you need to do - leave out all decorative plants, and instead, decorate with useful plants.

Begin your English garden design with an apple tree instead of the flowering crab. And plant it in a flower bed surrounded by flowers rather than out on its own. Plant those flowerbeds densely with kitchen herbs alongside of the flowers. Cabbages, carrots and other vegetables can be quite beautiful and they shouldn't be considered alien to the theme of the garden. In an English cottage garden design, they are the theme. Give them the most prominent placing, and raise sunflowers and runner beans up their stalks. You could have a tidy layout even if you do choose an English cottage garden. The basic theme is to fill every available space and to not judge plants for being what they are. You can plant marigolds to keep rodents away, and you can plant garlic right alongside a flower bed to keep insects off. It's all about utilitarianism and how we can't judge nature.


Article by Geoffrey Wagner


The classic English garden has evolved over time and taken on many guises, from formality of seventeenth-century styles, the sweeping parklands of Capability Brown to the wild natural look of the Arts and Crafts movement. But even with the popularity of today's modern designs with their minimalist planting schemes, the simplicity and romance of the English country garden still typifies what we understand as the classic English garden. Bring together pretty fragrance flowers, culinary herbs, garden buildings and a peaceful place to sit and you have the ingredients you need.

The garden bench is a must for any true English garden. Carefully placed for sun or shade in a place that is peaceful and conducive to quiet reflection, the bench can take on many and varied designs to suit taste and compliment garden design. The classic Thakeham seat or Lutyens bench, originally designed by the furniture maker and architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1900 still graces many a classic English garden. But there are other beautiful designs to be had in wood, iron and stone. Garden ornaments also have an important place in the English garden, stone statues of shy maidens or classic characters placed in amongst herbaceous borders; sundials creating a focal point at the end of a pathway, and birdbaths creating a showcase for birdlife.

The classic English garden cannot be without a greenhouse. It was the Victorians and their love of new and exotic species of plants that popularised the greenhouse. Basic aluminium structures are cheapest but a wooden structure in the Victorian or Edwardian style adds romance to a south-facing part of the garden. However, you can't get more romantic than the humble potting shed. Typically used for re-potting seedlings, it is a place to escape the trials and hustle of life, offering sanctuary to the true gardener.
Traditionally associated with the English cottage garden, lavender is a Mediterranean plant originally brought to England by the Romans but has now become synonymous with English garden planting schemes. Another plant the English garden cannot be without is of course the rose. By the nineteenth century horticulturalists were breeding a wide variety of roses for their colour and fragrance. Climbing roses grace the walled garden, while scented shrub roses fill the borders with irresistible scent to fill the senses and ramblers climb high into the branches of a tree.

Herb gardens were a vital part of horticulture in the Middle Ages, where herbs were mainly used for medicinal purposes. Some herbs with stunning flowers moved over time into the ornamental garden, whereas others became part of the vegetable garden where their culinary uses became popular. Today, more romantic additions are added to the herb garden such as scented herbs and sweet peas, grown in garden planters with tall wigwam supports.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


In recent years, there has been a lot of renewed interest in old varieties of roses in English gardens. The varieties available to gardeners today are usually a cross between modern hybrid teas and old rose varieties, but the attraction of wonderful fragrance, hardiness and old-fashioned flower forms remains. Here is a short guide to the classification of old roses and some of my favourite of the truly old varieties and as well as some of the newer ones.

The Damask rose dates back to ancient times and probably originated from the Eastern Mediterranean. It was grown for its amazing perfume-like fragrance. Most Damask varieties only bloom once a year, but they are usually quite hardy. Alba roses are a natural hybrid between the damask rose and rosa canina and are thought to date back to classical times. Although the word alba means white, they also come in various shades of pink. Although they too only flower once a year, they are disease resistant and vigorous growers. Gallica roses are amongst the oldest cultivated species of rose still available today. The Gallica rose originated in Persia in the 12th century and were grown for their amazingly heavy blooms and strong scent. They come in many colours from deep red and purple to white.

Portland roses are a cross between a China rose and the Autumn Damask Rose. This family of roses were the first to be bred as repeat flowering varieties and are characterised by their short stemmed fragrant blooms. Rugosa is an ancient rose that was native to the Orient. They are repeat flowering and easy to grow, although they only have a slight fragrance. Tea roses are a cross between a China rose and various Bourbons and Noisettes. They produce delicate blooms throughout the summer and have a distinctive tea scent.


'Comte de Chambord' is a Portland rose and one of my favourites. Compact and ideal for a small garden, it has full-petalled, warm pink flowers and a good fragrance. 'Felicia' is a hybrid musk shrub rose, similar to a hybrid tea in its characteristics. It has lovely silvery pink flowers and a strong aromatic fragrance. 'Munstead Wood' is from the David Austin English Rose collection. It has large velvety deep crimson flowers with a strong old rose fragrance. 'Rosa Mundi' is a Gallica rose. It is a showy rose with crimson flowers striped with white and an old rose scent.

Most roses can be grown successfully in garden planters. It is important that you choose a container large enough to accommodate the roots and provide good drainage. Roses grown in pots will outgrow their home quite quickly, so re-pot every two or three years. They also deplete nutrients more quickly and will need a feed at least twice a year to keep them healthy and producing flowers.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Roses are one of most popular flowering shrubs in the world. If you have ever wondered if growing roses for beginners was complicated then you should read just how easy it can be to get started growing roses.


Growing roses for beginners doesn’t have to be overly complex or difficult. By following these tips below you can soon have a wonderful rose garden of your own. 


The key to a successful rose garden is in the stock. Buy the best rose bushes or shrubs that you can afford. Miniature roses and old garden varieties are grown on their roots but other hybrid teas are grafted onto root stock so be careful when choosing them. Look for plants with at least three good canes from the bud union (the large bulb at the base of rose) and should be 8 to 12 inches long and are at least a 1/4 inch in diameter. 


Roses need a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day, preferably morning light. Prepare your rose beds with lots of organic material to keep the soil well drained and loose. Roses require deep holes, at least 6-9 deeper than bottom of the roots. When planting blend a little rose fertiliser in with the soil and water well. 


Roses are heavy feeders. Feed your roses with a minimum of fertiliser as least 3 times a year; once in the spring before buds appear, in summer after the first bloom burst and again in the late fall to help your bushes survive the colder months. Many rose gardeners simply feed them every 4-6 weeks. Roses also require lots of water if rainfall is insufficient. Deep soak from 30 to 60 minutes as needed. 


Prune your roses by either thinning them out to increase airflow and sunlight or by selectively heading back the tips until you reach good buds. 


Deadhead blooms as they wither. Apply several inches of mulch to prevent weeds and to control moisture in your beds. 


Spray for insects and plant diseases as needed. Check weekly for signs of black spot, mildew or blight. Take measures to control aphids, cane borers and other pests. Clean up and remove any damaged or diseased blooms, leaves or canes. 


It’s not the cold temperatures as much as the heaving of the soil which destroys rose bushes. To prevent this and save your plants, in the late autumn after your bushes before the first frost, push back the mulch and clean away any dead leaves, or fallen rose blooms. Remove any diseased stalks or branches and add any fertiliser as required. Now you can mound up soil with a top layer of mulch around the rose canes for protection. 
Growing roses for beginners need not become a chore; if you take care to follow the steps outlined above then you can soon become an accomplished rose grower. 


Article by Adam Carter


Rose bushes come in a variety of species, colours and sizes, which makes it difficult to choose the right one to match the local habitat and environment. Cool colours like pink, lavender and white are great for creating a calming and soothing impression, while warm colours, such as yellow, orange and red, are more energetic. Here are several points to consider when choosing the roses for the garden:


The size and look of the rose bushes can vary significantly. Floribundas and hybrid teas can grow to a maximum height of about 3 or 4 feet. These rose bushes can produce a lot of flowers during the season, but can look coarse and unappealing. Ramblers and climbers can grow to a height of 30 feet and give a tree-like form. They do need some support to maintain the shape. Miniature roses are the smallest option and grow to a height of about 24 inches, while the dwarf roses grow to about 2 feet. In addition, the shrub roses are large and leafy and great to offer wide-scale groundcover.


Plant the local species of roses to increase the chance of being able to provide the right growth environment. Certain rose bushes perform quite poorly in humid or hot weather. Read the labels to make sure the rose can perform well in a particular area.


Many varieties of roses are designed to bloom for a certain point over the course of the year. A popular variant is certain to continue to bloom with colourful petals all summer long, while others might only provide flowers for three weeks in the year. Make sure the blooming time is acceptable for you specific requirements.


Selecting the local and disease-resistant roses is a highly effective step to reduce the need to apply chemical sprays and dusts in the garden. Many of the older varieties of roses have a greater degree of disease resistance. Also, the latest rose bushes being bred come with better natural resistance to disease. A high maintenance species includes the hybrid teas, which seem to attract any pests in the local area.


If planning to grow the roses for cutting, the stem length is certain to be a further consideration. A typical rose used by florists is the hybrid tea because of the long and stiff stem. Any other rose-bush has quite weak and short stems, which might not make them such a practical choice for placing in a vase.


Article by Kyle Vail
Jim's Gardening Narre Warren South


Contact a reliable landscaping and gardening Narre Warren South specialist to take on responsibility of all lawn and garden work.


Roses are perhaps one of our favourite garden flowers. Their colourful scented blooms epitomise the English garden. Making sure you choose the right planting position and create the correct conditions for healthy growth will ensure that you have plenty of flowers throughout the summer. Here is a short guide on how to plant and care for roses in your garden.


Roses are probably best planted bare rooted in early spring but can also be successfully planted in the green. You just need to follow a few general guidelines. Roses require a position in good light, preferably in full sun, but away from strong winds, as they are susceptible to what is known as wind-rock where strong winter winds can loosen their roots and make them more susceptible to damage. Avoid planting a rose in the same position as a previous rose. This is because roses are heavy feeders and soil planted with roses for long periods of time can be said to have become rose-sick and need rejuvenating. Roses put down deep roots, so make sure the soil you are planting in has a good depth. They also prefer soils that are neutral or very slightly acid. Make sure you dig in plenty of organic matter before planting. This will not only provide essential nutrients, but also ensure good drainage and moisture retention.

Bare-rooted roses should be planted between late autumn and early spring when the plant is dormant. Container roses and container grown roses can be planted any time. If you are planting bare-rooted roses, soak the roots in a bucket of water overnight as the roots may have begun to dry out. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots at the right depth and infill with a mixture of compost and rose fertiliser.


Roses should be fed twice a year with a rose and shrub plant food sprinkled around the base of the plant and lightly dug in. As they have deep roots, roses do not require much watering once they are established. However, those grown in containers will need regular watering especially during long dry spells. Mulching is also important and should be done at least once a year. This will help maintain good soil conditions for the rose, retain moisture and keep down weeds. Roses also need to be pruned once a year to keep them flowering well. Pruning can take place in late autumn/early winter or in early spring. Remove any dead wood and then generally cut back each stem just above a bud by about half its length. Pruning is especially important for roses grown in garden planters as this will keep them looking tidy and within bounds. Dead-heading during the summer months will also prolong the flowering season and encourage repeat flowering on many varieties.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Rose gardening is an extremely rewarding part of the home landscape that has somehow gotten a reputation for being difficult to maintain and grow. Don’t let this rumour discourage you, because while rose gardening can be challenging, once you get started, it is an extremely enjoyable experience.

Rose gardening is not that much different than any other type of plant gardening. Good, healthy soil and a prime planting area is the most important thing. The planting methods are the same as any other shrub whether your roses are bare-root or container-grown. Make sure the spot you choose has good drainage, gets plenty of sunlight, and will not overcrowd your roses. Before planting, any dead leaves and thin or decayed shoots need to be cut off. Any damaged or very long roots also need to be trimmed. Soak bare-root roses in water about 10-12 hours to restore moisture in the roots before planting and water the soil before planting as well. Make sure the hole you dig is large enough for the root growth of the rose and it’s also a good idea to use compost or mulch.
Roses need the same things as other plants; they just need more of it. One of the most important things to remember in rose gardening is that roses are heavy feeders and will need several fertiliser applications. Fertilising should be started in early spring and discontinued in early fall. Don’t over-fertilise (follow fertiliser instructions) and water after each feeding. The main thing to remember in rose gardening is to water, water, and water some more. Roses require large amounts of water; a thorough watering twice a week should be enough.

An essential part of any flower gardening project is pruning because it increases blooms and encourages healthy plant growth. Different varieties of roses have different instructions for pruning, so you might want to read up on your rose types and see what is suggested.

Following is a list of pests and diseases to look out for, along with solutions to keep your roses healthy.

1. Black Spot

This disease appears as circular black spots with fringed edges on leaves. They cause the leaves to yellow. Remove the infected foliage and pick up any fallen leaves around the rose. Artificial sprays may be used to prevent or treat this kind of rose disease.

2. Malformed young canes

This is caused by powdery mildew, a fungal disease that covers leaves, stems and buds with wind spread white powder. It makes the leaves curl and turn purple. Spray with Funginex or Benomyl to treat this fungal disease.

3. Rust

This disease is characterised by orange-red blisters that turn black in fall. It can survive the winter and will then attack new sprouts in the spring. Collect and discard leaves that are infected in fall. Treating with a Benomyl or Funginex spray every 7-10 days may help.

4. Stunted leaves and flowers

This is caused by spider mites and they are a common rose gardening pest. They are tiny yellow, red or green spiders found on the underside of leaves where they suck juices. The application of Orthene or Isotox may help in treating this infestation.

5. Weak and mottled leaves with tiny white webs under them

This is caused by aphids. They are small soft-bodied insects that usually brown, green or red. Often clustered under leaves and flower buds, they suck plant juices from tender buds. Malathion or diazinon spray may help roses to survive these bugs.

6. Unopened or deformed flowers.

Thrips could be the reason behind this rose gardening problem. They are slender, brown-yellow bugs with fringed wings that also suck juices from flower buds. Cut and discard the infested flowers. Orthene and malathion may also treat this problem.


Article by Adam Faston


Adam Faston is an organic gardening enthusiast and a lover of the great outdoors.


Many people are daunted by the thought of growing roses. Why? Because the blooms appear so beautiful and delicate they then think that the bush is also delicate.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Roses are a very hardy addition to any garden, and any gardener, even beginners can cultivate roses successfully with little effort and great benefit.

Roses can stand a lot of neglect and are quite hard to kill. They are tolerant of drought, they withstand pruning neglect; they produce blooms even when inadequately fed. And, nowadays, many on the market or in the nursery are being bred for disease resistance.

Of course, neglected roses will not perform optimally, but with some periodic TLC they will give you delight and great blooms for the vase or just simply to adorn your front yard.

So don't hesitate - think of what you would like and go for it!


1. Prepare the soil well - make it friable with good compost and keep the plant well mulched.

2. Lupins are a good mulch - as the chemical composition militates against blackspot development.

3. Never plant a rose where another has been growing - if you must use that spot - then dig out the soil and replace with soil from another part of the garden.

4. Don't water in the evening if possible - as the water drops on leaves are a site for fungi to thrive in - especially blackspot.

5. Treat blackspot with Neem Oil - it's natural and therefore organic. Pick up any diseased leaves from under the bush - don't just pick them off the bush and drop them.

6. Locate your roses where they will receive a minimum of 5-6 hours of sun.

7. Prune during the dormant period (late winter - early spring if you have snow and frozen ground). Heavy prune to leave canes about 8-12 inches long. Sounds brutal, but it will encourage vigorous new growth and watershoots from the graft.

8. Prune during the growing season - remove dead and sickly stems or canes. Prune after flowering to encourage another crop of blooms.

9. Remove suckers - most hybrid teas and floribunda roses are cultivated on the root stock of other species that are more disease resistant. If you accidentally cut below the graft or it gets damaged for some reason, suckers from the root stock often then grow from below the graft. These need to be removed. Don't just cut them off - dig right down to where they first appear and slice off - and if coming from a root - cut that out too.

10. Protect the graft - don't cut it with a spade or whatever. Keep it above the soil level - and in winter mound up leaves around it to protect it from freezing conditions. Remove again after dormancy.

Following these 10 Top Tips will make your gardening with roses more happy and give the plants the TLC they need to keep working at giving you much joy for your rose gardening efforts.


Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden


Peter Damien Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert who likes to share knowledge.


Mature rose plants can be quite expensive to buy, so its good to know that you can grow young rose plants successfully by taking cuttings. Roses are relatively easy to grow from cuttings and will grow on to make healthy flowering plants. September is a good time to take cuttings. Roots will be produced over the winter months and the rose cuttings will be ready to pot on in the spring. Choose health stems from the current seasons growth and follow these few easy steps to produce more of your favourite rose varieties.

Almost all rose varieties make successful plants from cuttings. Make sure you select long, strong and healthy stems from this year's growth and not older woody stems. Cuttings should be about 25cm in length. Cut the stem above a bud at the top to remove the shoot tip and below a bud at the base of the stem. Make slits in the bottom inch of the stem to encourage rooting. This is known as wounding. Remove all the lower leaves but leave one at the top of the stem. Next, dip the base of the cutting into hormone rooting powder. This will help speed up the process by stimulating the growth of a new root system. Fill a 10cm pot with gritty compost and insert several cuttings around the edge of the pot. You should be able to get around four or five cuttings per pot. I find it best to make several pots of cuttings so as to allow for a percentage that don't root. Placing them around the edge of the pot is better than just inserting one into the middle of a pot as it encourages root growth and lessens the risk of rotting off. Water the pots well and place them in a shady spot. A cold frame or sheltered part of the garden should be fine.

Remember to label your cuttings. Keep the pots well watered and in position until the cuttings have rooted. If you don't want to use pots for the cuttings, roses do propagate very well if planted directly into the soil. Again, choose a sheltered spot and give them plenty of room so they are not crowded out by other plants in the border. After a few weeks you should see more leaves start to appear which is a good sign that the cutting has taken root. Once the cuttings have rooted, probably by the next summer, tease them apart and plant them up into individual garden planters.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


The rose is probably the icon of the English garden. There is nothing quite like the bloom of bush, patio and climbing roses in June. They add elegance, colour and scent to the summer garden. On the whole I find roses quite easy to grow. Many of my old English specimens are grown in containers as well as the ramblers and bush roses I have growing in borders throughout the garden. However, the one problem even the most experienced gardener can't avoid is that of a black spot.

Although common to roses, a black spot can also be found on other plants. But it is the most serious disease for roses. Popular varieties such as hybrid teas, floribundas, climbers and patio types are usually the most susceptible. Caused by the fungus Diplocarpon rosae, a black spot appears as purple or black spots on the leaves which eventually drop off thus greatly reducing the vigour of the plant. Badly affected plants can shed almost all their leaves in a very short time. First signs of a black spot are usually seen in early spring when new leaves begin the sprout. Because the fungus is very diverse and new strains form all the time, it is difficult to create lasting resistance in new rose varieties.


There is not really very much you can do if you don't want to use chemicals. Old varieties of rose tend to be less susceptible to a black spot, so as a form of prevention is might be a good idea to do your home work and select old varieties of rose when buying new plants or replacing lost ones. For new varieties, go for those that have shown some evidence of resistance to the disease - that's not to say the plant will be free of a black spot for its entire life, but you will have a head start. If your rose does show signs of a black spot, remove and destroy the affected leaves immediately. Don't put them on the compost heap as the fungus will survive and affect other plants when spread with the compost. To reduce the chance of re-infection the following year, prune affected plants back hard in autumn.
If you have to resort to chemical control, then start spraying with a suitable fungicide as new leaves open and repeat at fortnightly intervals. Continue to spray the plant every two weeks throughout the season. It is also a good idea to alternate several different products in order to maximise their effectiveness. This is especially relevant for roses grown in garden planters which will always be slightly compromised when grown in a container rather than in open ground.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Lavender has to be one of the most popular of garden plants. Highly versatile, lavender looks the part in a traditional cottage garden setting but is equally at home in a more contemporary garden design. Late summer is the time to increase stock of some of your favourite varieties by taking semi-ripe cuttings. Taking cuttings from lavender plants couldn’t be simpler. Choose a few healthy non-flowering shoots from this year’s growth and follow these few easy steps.

The best shoots to take are side shoots. Pull them away from the side of the plant, leaving a thin strip of bark attached or a heel still attached. The heel is important as this is where new roots will form. Trim off the heel with a sharp clean knife. Next, remove all lower pairs of leaves so that there is a clear piece of stem to insert into the compost. Dip the end of each prepared cutting into hormone powder. This will give the cutting a head start by stimulating the growth of new roots. You should be able to fit six cuttings into a six inch pot. Fill the pot with gritty compost and insert each cutting around the edge of the pot at equal distances. Water the compost well and cover the pot in a clear plastic bag to maintain a humid atmosphere around the cuttings. Place the pots in a warm place in shade rather than full sunlight. Once the cuttings have started to root (you can tell this by looking to see if any roots have appeared through the bottom of the pot), cut a few ventilation holes in the plastic bag. After a few more weeks you should be able to remove the plastic bag completely. Leave the cuttings to establish for a while longer and then transfer each cutting into its own individual pot. Once they start to put on growth, pinch out the top of each young plant to encourage the plant to bush out. The young lavender plants should put on a fair amount of growth before the end of the summer, but make sure you overwinter them in a greenhouse or cold frame as they will still be too tender to withstand the winter weather without protection.
Next spring your young plants should soon start to grow again and can be transferred into the ground or grown on in garden planters to be placed around the garden where their distinctive scent will delight once the sun warms up again.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Planting lavender is a great way to start off the spring gardening season. A little effort now will pay off for years to come as this low maintenance perennial yields its aromatic and useful blossoms. Purchase a plant from a nursery, choose the right location, prepare the soil and plant. Just add a little fertiliser and water and watch it grow. Following these simple tips will provide a high likelihood of success.
The easiest way to plant lavender is to start with an established potted plant purchased from a nursery. Many lavender varieties can be started from seed, but that is more difficult and doesn’t have a high success rate. Choose a plant in a 4″ to 8″ pot with healthy leaves that are green (or gray depending on the variety) but not brown.

Choose a location that gets plenty of sun, as lavender is a sun loving plant. It will do fine with some shade but needs several hours of sun each day to thrive. The area must also be one that drains well. Lavender is a plant the requires little water, and in fact will not survive if it stays wet for too long.

Speaking of soil, prepare a fast draining mixture of equal parts of sand, compost and native soil. Dig a hole that is two to three times the diameter of your pot and twice as deep. Fill the hole half way with your prepared soil, remove the plant from the pot, loosen the dirt around the roots slightly and place the plant in the center of the hole. Finish filling the hole with your soil mixture.

Water regularly for the first couple of weeks to get the plant established, then water sparingly when the soil is dry. Treating the plant with a light application of natural fertiliser such as bone meal or fish emulsion will give the plant a good start.

Though the plant may bloom only lightly (or not at all) its first year, the second year will produce significant growth and 50 blossoms or more. A mature lavender can produce several hundred wonderful smelling blossoms that can be dried and used for aromatherapy, cooking, or a heavenly scented sachet.

With a little care, lavender plants will last many seasons. Make plans now to start the spring gardening season by planting lavender and enjoy the fruits of your labour for years.


Article by Jimmie Norris
What About Lavender


Jimmie Norris is an avid lavender gardener and webmaster of a complete resource for lavender information. Visit to learn more about planting lavender.


When most people think of lavender they think of hot summer days, that heady distinctive scent and the gentle buzzing of bees; an image that has made it one of the most popular garden plants. Originally from the Mediterranean region and India, the lavender species is now cultivated all over the world. Its uses are documented as far back as Roman times when it was used to scent their bath water. Indeed it was the Romans who first introduced the plant to Britain.

Lavender is a large family of plants, some annual, others perennial, some hardy and others tender. It is a plant well worth collecting and if you have some space in your garden, why not create a small garden devoted to the species. Here is a short guide to creating a small lavender garden which measures 15 feet square, including preparation, types of lavender you might like to grow and some companion plants.


Lavender prefers well-draining soil and a warm sunny aspect. However, it will grow in semi-shade as long as the soil conditions are right. Most lavenders are quite hardy and should survive winter temperatures, but if you live in an area with very cold winter temperatures it might be worth considering growing the plants in containers so that you can more easily protect them in severe weather.

If your soil is clay you will need to dig in plenty of organic matter followed by sharp sand in order to improve the drainage. Mark out the area you want to plant. In a square area it is a good idea to divide it up into four smaller squares with narrow paths running through so that you can easily access the plants.


When deciding which species to include in your garden, there are a few things you will need to consider. How large will a particular species grow? Is it hardy? It is a good idea to grow a range of varieties in groups to achieve an overall effect of shape, size and colour. Plant in groupings of 3-5 plants for maximum impact. For larger varieties choose augustifolia or English Lavender, which is a hardy evergreen perennial. It grows to a height of 32ins with a spread of 3ft and has mauve/purple flowers on long spikes in summer. If you are keen to try and distil your own lavender oil, then choose Lavender Grosso which is a cross between augustifolia and latifolia and the choice of most commercial growers. The species is very tall growing and is good for making lavender wands and the flowers are good for making sachets. Lavender Hidcote is another good variety. This hardy evergreen perennial grows to a height of around 18in and has dark blue flowers on medium spikes in summer. Lavender Rosea has pink flowers in summer and very aromatic leaves.

Lavenders known as French Lavenders are only half hardy but are well worth growing for their attractive coloured bracts in summer. Lavender Pedunculata grows up to 24ins and has attractive purple bracts with an extra mauve centre tuft.

If you want some smaller growing varieties for the front of borders or to infill, then choose Lavender Folgate, Lavender Lodden pink or blue, and Lavender Munstead. Medium varieties include Lavender Bowles and Lavender Old English.


The best way to maintain a healthy lavender bush is to trim it to shape every year in spring, taking care not to cut into the old wood which will not sprout again. Once the flowers have gone over, trim back to the leaves. You can also trim the plant again in early autumn. Regular trimming in this way will keep a neat shape and encourage new growth.

If you want to gather lavender flowers for sachets or to dry as bunches, it is best to cut them just as they open. Dry the flowers by hanging them in small bunches. The leaves can be picked at any time to use fresh.


If you choose to grow your lavender in containers make sure you choose garden planters that show the lavender off well. All lavenders look good in terracotta. Choose a well-drained compost and grit mix. Position your container in a sunny position. Although lavender will grow in partial shade, it can affect the scent of the plant. Water well and feed during the summer months. In winter allow the plant to dry out completely and then re-introduce water slowly in the spring.


You may wish to grow other plants alongside your lavender. If you have used a square design you could edge each square in low box hedging which will enclose the lavender plants in a straight edge of dark evergreen foliage. Other plants that grow and look well with lavender include other heat tolerant plants such as Santolina or cotton lavender, Rosemary and Oregano. Echinacea and Scabiosa are other good choices. Coleus adds a good colour contrast to the silvery grey of lavender leaves.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


There are very good reasons why growing lavender has been so popular with generations of gardeners and farmers. Perhaps the most important reason is that it has a beautiful, fragrant smell. When it flowers we are all immediately reminded of summer, and in many places around the world flowering lavender is cause for celebration. But as well as being admired for its beauty it also has a long history as a healing and restorative plant.

Lavender originates from the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean, but it now flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States. Like another well-known herb, rosemary, it's a heavily branched short shrub that grows to a height of between 2 and 3 feet. For this reason it's an excellent herb for growing as an aromatic garden hedge. In this article I'll explain how you can grow a lavender hedge and how to put its flowers to use in many areas around your home.

To help you understand how easy and straightforward it is to grow a lavender hedge I have structured my article as six short paragraphs:

- Where to plant your lavender hedge
- What sort of lavender to plant
- Buying or growing your lavender?
- How to plant your lavender hedge
- Looking after your lavender
- Putting your lavender to healthy uses


When you are looking for a site to plant your lavender hedge, bear in mind that lavender loves a sunny location and light, dry, well drained alkaline (ph 7.5 to 8) soil. If you plant lavender in moist and shady conditions it won't flourish and becomes prone to fungus.

When you choose a site for your hedge also bear in mind that lavender is excellent at repelling insects (with the exception of bees and butterflies which it attracts). This makes it a good companion plant for orchards and other areas of your garden where insects such as flies and mosquitoes are a nuisance.


Don't just buy the first lavender you see in your garden centre or shop. There are many types of lavender plants available, but to keep things simple I'll introduce you to just two of them, both of which are suitable for growing a lavender hedge.

Lavandula stoechas (commonly called French lavender) has short, fat spikes of dark purple flowers topped with butterfly wing bracts (small leaves attached to a flower)

Lavendula augustifolia (commonly called English lavender) which has small purple flowers.

French lavender will grow a little taller than English lavender (up to 3ft instead of 2ft), but English lavender has a stronger smell which is good if you intend to harvest the flowers to make potpourri and aromatic oils.


I don't recommend trying to grow your lavender from seed because seeds frequently don't produce plants that are true to type. Either buy small plants that are ready for transplanting or take your own cuttings from another plant. If you decide to take cuttings, take 2 inch stems from the tips of the lavender in mid to late summer. Trim off the upper and lower leaves of these stems and then plant them in a mixture of 2/3 course sand and 1/3 peat moss. Keep the soil on the dry side until the roots have formed and shoots appear, and then replant the young plants in pots ready for planting out.


Plant your lavender hedge in either the spring or the autumn. Make a trench about 16 inches deep and 18 inches wide, and fill this up with a mix of potting compost and coarse sand. Plant your young lavender plants about 2 feet apart (which will to allow for growth). If you plant in the spring, remove any blooms to force the energy into root growth. If you plant in the fall all the plant's energy will be directed into growing its roots.


Keep your plants watered, even during the winter, although in the winter months the plants are largely dormant. Feed your lavender plants with a suitable fertiliser in early spring and again in mid-summer.

Lavender tends to get woody and needs to be maintained by pruning. Do this before new shoots have formed and at the end of the season when flowering has finished. It's a good idea to shape your lavender hedge. I prune mine to create a circular bush in the spring, and aim to take off about 1/3 of its height when I carry out a major prune at the end of the summer.

Pruning your lavender plants at the beginning and end of the season will encourage healthy growth and lots of flowers. I also dry my pruned cuttings and use them as kindling wood during the winter. They release a wonderful scent as they burn.

You will also probably want to cut lavender flowers during the growing season to use in the home in some of the ways I have described in the final part of my article. Flowers can be cut from the early spring before they open and during the summer.

Although lavender is a perennial herb your hedge will start to get quite woody after a few years depending on growing conditions. I recommend that when the hedge begins to look a bit ragged you take lots of cuttings and replant it either at the end of the season or in the spring.


Whilst growing lavender in your garden will bring endless pleasure, it also has many other uses:

Oil of lavender:
Make this by immersing your lavender flowers in neutral oil. The aromatic oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact it was used in hospitals during WWI to disinfect floors and walls. This oil can also be used as a fragrance for bath products.

Dried lavender flowers:
These are used to perfume linen. The dried flowers have a powerful, aromatic odour which repels moths, flies and mosquitoes

Culinary lavender:
Use fresh or dried flowers to flavour sugars jellies, ice-cream and cheeses. you can also crystallize flowers and use as decorations on cakes.

In conclusion I hope I have been able to show you that creating a lavender hedge isn't difficult. If you follow the instructions I have provided you will end up with a healthy, strong, attractive hedge. It might take a couple of years to really establish itself, but whilst this is happening you can harvest and preserve the flowers so you can enjoy the results of your hard work throughout the winter months.


Article by Adam Gilpin
Herb Gardening Help


This article by Adam Gilpin has been produced to encourage more people to create their own herb gardens and discover the 100's of different ways in which herbs such as lavender can be used in the garden and around the house.

Please visit Adam's website at to find out about other herbal garden projects like the lavender hedge and about growing, harvesting and using a wide variety of other herbs. On Adam's site you can also find out about his new book on herb gardening which has just been published by Oxford Digital Press.


Wisteria is a woody climbing vine that is part of the pea family of plants and originates from China, Korea and Japan. In Japan, Wisteria floribunda is a common sight in woodlands where it clambers up trees much like our native honeysuckle. Wisteria has become a popular climber in our gardens and is grown for its stunning display of hanging flower spikes in spring. Here is a guide to some stunning varieties and advice on how to grow and maintain wisteria in your own garden.

Wisteria is a hardy climber and very fast growing. It prefers fertile, moist well-drained soil and thrives in full sun. Being legumes, wisteria does not need feeding, as they fix their own nitrogen, but they do like lots of water, particularly when they are flowering. For wisteria to look its best, it needs some form of climbing support such as a tree, pergola or wall. But whatever support you choose, make sure it is sturdy as wisteria can become very strong with thick trunks and stems.
Perhaps one of the most common questions asked about the care of wisteria is about pruning. The flowers develop in buds near the base of the previous year's growth, so pruning back side shoots to a few buds near the base of a stem in early spring can enhance the show of flowers. Some general tips on pruning wisteria include pruning all basal growth right back to the main trunk from the word go and in summer remove all the whippy growth which can get up to several feet long! Prune your wisteria again in winter to give it a general tidy up. The main thing to remember when pruning wisteria is not to be scared of pruning it back hard, even if you don't follow the rules and look for buds, it will still flower well the following year. However, if you do have a plant that hasn't flowered for several years it is best to get rid of it, as its lack of flowers will almost certainly be due to the dominance of the original root stock onto which your wisteria variety was grafted.


Wisteria comes in a variety of colours from white to pink and darker purple. Different varieties also have varying amounts of scent. Wisteria 'Kuchi-beni' has clusters of fragrant pale mauve-pink flowers, tipped with purple in June. 'Lavender lace' is a vigorous climber with pale blue flowers and a sweet scent. Wisteria 'Macrobotrys' has particularly long fragrant trailing violet coloured flowers. For small gardens choose the short flower spike floribundas such as 'Domino' with its lilac-blue flowers. You can also grow wisterias in garden planters, and train as a standard. This is particularly suitable for a small garden.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


The hydrangea originates from southern and eastern Asia and North and South America. It is a very popular shrub that can be either deciduous or evergreen. There are two main flower types in hydrangeas, mophead flowers which are large and round and resemble pom-poms, or lacecap which are flat flower heads with small fertile flowers in the centre surrounded by more showy larger sterile flower heads around the outside. Flowers come in various shades of pink, white, purple and blue. Here is a short guide on how to grow hydrangeas and some of my favourite varieties.

Hydrangeas will thrive in moist but well-drained soil, in a semi shady part of the garden. They are ideal for north-facing sites, but avoid east-facing positions where cold winds can easily damage new growth. Likewise, avoid overly dry and sunny spots. One of the attractions of hydrangeas is their ability to change the colour of their flowers. This only happens in the mophead varieties and is due to the soil pH. Those hydrangeas whose flowers turn blue tends to be in more acidic soil. To keep them blue grow in acidic soil of pH 4.5-5 or add hydrangea blueing compounds that can be bought from good garden centres. The flower heads also dry extremely well and look stunning instead of cut flowers over winter.

Hydrangeas are normally very hardy and don't suffer many problems. However, non-flowering can be caused by frost damage to flowering wood. It is a good idea to keep the dead heads on the plant until spring as this will provide a bit of protection against harsh frosts.

Hydrangea 'Annabel' is a stunning white variety with large flower blooms that can be up to 30cm across. Hydrangea paniculata 'Vanille Fraise' provides generous blooms that emerge white and mature to a lovely raspberry pink. 'Expression Blue' has a very long flowering season and produces fragrant mauve waterlily-like florets. It is a compact variety and so ideal for containers. Hydrangea Adria is another compact variety suited to small gardens. It has stunning blue flowers that dry very well for use in floral arrangements. 'Limelight' has conical flower heads that start off bright lime green and gradually turn creamy-white with a delicate pink blush.
Hydrangeas can be grown successfully in garden planters. There are however a couple of considerations to take into account. Hydrangeas tend to very quickly out grow a container and so will need to be re-potted once a year. Regular watering is also essential as a potted hydrangea should never be allowed to dry out.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


If there is one annual I simply can't be without it is the sweet pea. This versatile annual climber looks good anywhere in the garden - in a corner of the vegetable garden, in the middle of a summer border or on a patio. The sweet fragrance of the sweet pea makes them the perfect cut flower that will fill your home with the scent of summer. There are so many varieties to choose from - some grown for their beautiful vibrant colour, some for their famous scent and others for both. Sweet peas are easy to grow from seed. Here is a short guide on how to do it.

A good tip to bear in mind when growing sweet peas from seed is that they dislike disturbance, so use paper pots or another biodegradable material to grow them in that can be transferred straight into the ground so as not to disturb the roots. Sow the seed individually in compost in small pots. I find cardboard toilet rolls make excellent seed pots for this purpose. Water the pots well. Place the pots on a sunny window sill or into a propagator to germinate. Water the sweet peas regularly as they grow. As they put on more growth you will notice that if you are using cardboard pots, that the roots will begin to appear as they breakthrough the side of the damp cardboard. Once the seedlings have developed three pairs of true leaves, pinch out the growing tip to encourage the plants to bush out. When the threat of frost has gone, harden the seedlings off by placing them in a cold frame or outside during the day. They are then ready to plant out.

Sweet peas are a climbing plant, so you will need to provide some sort of support for them to climb up. If you are transferring the plants into the ground, then grow them against a fence or wall, making sure you tie in the shoots with wire or use netting for the plants to cling onto. If you are growing them in garden planters you will need a wigwam support of canes or wire, again making sure that you tie in the shoots to encourage them to climb. Once the plants reach the top of the support, pinch out the growing tip again to prevent them from growing taller and encourage bushy growth.

Sweet peas make lovely cut flowers and you will actually encourage the plants to produce more flowers if you pick them regularly. When the plants have died back and gone to seed you can harvest the pods, break them open and collect your own seed to store over winter and grow next year.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


The common foxglove or Digitalis purpurea, is an herbaceous biennial native to most of Europe. A stately looking plant, the foxglove has been grown in gardens for centuries and is a particularly common sight in cottage style gardens. It has also been grown for cut flowers and used as an herb for medicinal purposes. Like many plant species, the foxglove has slipped in and out of fashion with garden designers, but seems to have become popular once again, featuring in many of last year's gardens at the Chelsea flower show. Here are a few of the most popular and also more unusual varieties.

Wild foxgloves are biennial, which means they take two years to develop from seed to flower. The first year of growth produces a rosette of long basal leaves and the flowers appear in the second year. Foxgloves thrive in partial sunlight to deep shade and are found naturally in open woods, moorland and hedge banks. The flowers are typically purple but some plants, especially hybrids, may be pink, rose, yellow, or white.

A quite new and stunning variety is 'Illumination', winner of the Chelsea Flower Show plant of the year 2012. Unlike most foxgloves which are generally biennial, this hardy semi-evergreen is a true perennial with stunning tropical colouring of pinks and orange. It grows to a height of 90cm. The Chinese Foxglove or Rehmannia, is also a perennial hybrid and makes a makes a great choice for tricky dry, shady areas, thriving in difficult sites where many other plants fail. Also grows to a height of 90cm.
Foxglove 'Polka Dot Pandora' has architectural, apricot flower spikes. Being sterile, it won't self-seed but the flowers are very long lasting. 'Dalmatian Peach' has upright stems of peach coloured trumpet flowers and is particularly stunning in cottage garden borders or woodland settings. It grows to a height of 100cm. Foxglove 'Polka Dot Princess' is one of the longest flowering foxgloves with bright pink flowers on upright stems. It grows up to 60cm tall. Foxglove 'Summer King'is commonly known as the strawberry foxglove because of its eye-catching strawberry-rose flowers. Digitalis Summer King is a naturally occurring cross between the yellow-flowered Digitalis grandiflora and lavender-rose-flowered Digitalis purpurea. Foxglove 'Ianata' is one foxglove species that can thrive in hotter/drier spots. Its flowers have a protruding lower lip netted in brown, elsewhere the flowers are cream. 'Alba' as its name suggest, has pure white flowers on upright stems.

Foxgloves can be grown in garden planters, particularly the compact varieties such as Digitalis dubia, a small species from the Balearic Islands. Those grown in pots can be used to create a focal point.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Organic gardens offer a perfect opportunity to grow healthy herbs, fruits and vegetables using earth-friendly methods. The process of organic gardening means no artificial ingredients, such as chemical-based pesticides, are applied to the garden or lawn. Also, these gardening principles are easily applied to any garden set-up and promote the growth of virtually any plant life.


Gardeners can take full advantage of the safe and natural ways to get rid of most species of garden pests. Many natural pesticides help to eliminate the most common pests to attack plant life. A solution of vinegar and water can tackle many pest issues. Also, a variety of herbs can be used in the process of controlling the pests.

A simple natural pesticide includes spraying a diluted mixture of water and natural soap. This is very effective at eliminating the aphid infestations. Once the aphids start to clear from the leaves, the plants should be given a further spray with clean water. Another natural option includes a combination of garlic and onion mixed in water. This can act as a general insect repellent.

Also, rather than using artificial pesticides to control the population of unsightly weeds, a gardener can use a variety of natural alternatives. The use of household vinegar is also a high effective tool at killing weeds. Combine 15% household vinegar with water to create a simple spray mixture. Apply this to the plant life during periods of bright sunlight. This will kill off the weeds without causing any damage to the plants.


Another way to use the organic materials is to create a fertiliser to promote the health of the garden and lawn. Organic fertiliser relies on the composting and mulching processes to allow a variety of materials to decompose naturally.

To retain the quality of the soil, it is recommended that the top 5 or 6 inches are tilled. This will help keep the majority of the nutrients at a level that can benefit the health of the plant life. Also, a good quality organic mulching material should be applied to any exposed soil. This should be layered at a depth of 2 or 3 inches. The addition of mulch is beneficial to prevent soil eroding, discourage weed growth, maintain moisture content, and encourage plant growth.

All in all, the organic gardening practices help to maintain the beautiful and healthy garden in the most natural, effective and safe way possible.


Article by Kyle Vail


Distinct from mulch per se, compost is decayed organic material used as a fertiliser for growing plants. It is matter that is almost completely broken down or decomposed.


The benefit of compost is that it gives you an earthy, dark, crumbly soil that is excellent for all plants due to having been enriched by the decomposed materials. So, in this energy conscious world, it is an easy way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes, and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills. The natural cycle of life always provides natural compost as leaves fall in the Autumn and throughout the year with evergreens.

Piling up, they begin to decay and when returned to the soil the living roots continue the process of reclaiming the available nutrients. Generally however, in the home garden this isn't enough - hence making your own compost heap is so beneficial. And today, in many countries, including the United States, you will find this practice increasing across households - not just with avid gardeners who have been always doing it. Probably it will become as commonplace as recycling cans and paper is now. Composting is a simple process that you can make as sophisticated as you like. Basic composting requires minimal effort. You can choose a bin or a bin-less system.


Compost is done by billions of microbes (fungi, bacteria, etc.) that digest the yard and kitchen wastes (food).

 If the pile is cool enough, worms, insects, and their relatives will help out the microbes. Like people, these living things need air, water, and food. If you maintain your pile to provide for their needs, they'll happily turn your yard and kitchen wastes into compost much more quickly.



The waste will need to be aerated occasionally for the microbes to survive as they breathe air. 

This will also help break up materials that tend to mat (e.g. grass clippings, wet leaves) and take longer to decompose otherwise. Just turn the compost periodically with a pitchfork - though some compost bins nowadays have inbuilt turning mechanisms operated by an external handle that does the mixing for you - aerating the compost.


keep the pile fairly moist - like a kitchen sponge - that is wet but not soaked. Too much water mats the materials too much.


The mix of compost can be classified as 'browns' and 'greens'. Greens are the wastes from the kitchen - fruit and vegetable scraps, leaves, fresh manures and so on. The browns are things like dead leaves (autumn leaves), hay, straw, sticks and woodchips, sawdust and the like. Mixing browns and greens is the best nutritional balance for the microbial activity. The browns are bulkier and help keep the pile aerated and the greens maintain needed moisture. If too wet just add more browns and vice versa.


In winter your compost heap may go dormant - but it will revivify in the spring. While hotter piles of compost do decompose somewhat faster, a temperature of about 50F is sufficient, provided aeration and the mix is correct. Size does matter! The compost pile needs to be at least a cubic yard (3 foot high and wide) to heat up and stay hot for a long period of time. When finished the compost will be dark in colour and has an earthy smell (like the smell of soil). Although bits of hard-to-decompose materials (such as sticks) will still be evident they will finish decomposition in the garden bed.


By making a tea out of your compost - combine equal parts of water and compost and let it sit for a while. - you can give your plants a boost by using the liquid as a foliage feeder. This also applies to worm wee which you can collect from your worm farm. Just dilute it all a bit though.


Grass and lawn clippings - layer these thinly and place drier compost in between.

Alfalfa composts very quickly. Be careful of greens that have lots of seeds which can re-sprout, e.g. hay. Moisten first. 

Food wastes - Fruit and vegetable peels/rinds, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, and similar materials are great stuff to compost. Avoid composting meat scraps, fatty food wastes, milk products, and bones -- these materials are very attractive to pests. 

Leaves - like lawn clippings - layer thinly or they will mat. 

Straw - will help keep the compost aerated.

Weeds - can be used but avoid those that have begun to go to seed. 

Woodchips and sawdust - - although these can be used straight onto the soil as mulch, they can also be used in the compost pile. Don't use chemically treated wood.


Chemically treated woods 

Diseased plants - composting heat may kill disease organisms - but you can't be sure all of it will die.

Meat, bones, fatty food wastes 

Pernicious weeds - unless they are completely dead and not gone to seed.


Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden


Peter Damien Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at