Category Archives: Style notebook

The Value of Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape

Stipa tenuissima, Calamagrostis brachytricha, Carex comans 'Frosted Curls', Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Chat Noir', Cosmos atrosanguineus and Sedum matrona - © GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski

Stipa tenuissima, Calamagrostis brachytricha, Carex comans ‘Frosted Curls’, Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Chat Noir’, Cosmos atrosanguineus and Sedum matrona – © GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski

Ornamental grasses have become increasingly popular in garden landscaping and for good reason, as they bring so many additional qualities to borders. Grasses have such a unique look to them, but are not so bold that they steal attention away from other plants. Instead they soften and compliment, as well as adding a vital textual element and movement to a border. From late summer and into autumn they really come into their own, often displaying bold and variegated colour on their strappy leaves and producing soft and unusual flowers. When backlit in summer and autumn, they look sensational and glow in the garden. In the winter, the graceful movement of grasses being caught in the wind is reason alone to plant them in your garden. Although many do die back in late autumn and produce fresh foliage the following spring, they will keep their structure of dead leaves over the winter, which look striking if caught in a hoarfrost.

Grasses are fantastic in pots, and look particularly stylish in autumn and winter planters. Most grasses like free-draining soil and plenty of sun, so try and plant them in more open, sunny spots in the garden.

Simple Ways to Give Your Garden Entertainment Space an Update

As the weather warms up, we all want to spend more time outside. For those of us that like to socialise and relax in our gardens, late spring is a fantastic time to start thinking about ways to make our gardens more user-friendly. You don’t have to put in a lot of time, money or energy either – here are some simple ideas to try this weekend:

1. Give your garden furniture a makeover

If you already have some garden furniture, but it’s looking a bit drab, why not give it a makeover rather than buy a new set? Go to your local hardware shop and buy some colourful outdoor paint. On a dry, sunny day, simply give your furniture a buff with some sandpaper before layering on a coat or two of paint in the colour of your choice to give an instant update.

2. Think about fun alternative seating

If you are hoping to create a relaxed vibe in your garden, then consider adding some low-level seating amongst your plants to really help you unwind in your garden. Bean bags, stools and pouffes are fun and sociable, and give a contemporary feel to a garden.

3. Make an outdoor bar

Here is a fun idea for a garden DIY project that you will use throughout the summer – a pallet bar. Pallets are inexpensive and very on trend, and give gardens a modern but low-key style. This is perfect for days when you are having a garden party or barbeque, and you’re after a stylish outdoor drink station. Quick tip: build the bar in a shady spot so drinks stay nice and chilled.

4. Add some lighting so the party can keep going into the night

This is an exciting and super easy way to make your garden even more usable and stylish. There is a huge range of garden lighting available on the market now, and so many are battery operated or solar powered – so no need to worry how far the nearest plug socket is. Try winding some fairy lights through a tree, or drape some lanterns along a fence. Or you could add some uplighters beneath your architectural plants to give extra oomph as the sun goes down.

5. Incorporate fragrant plants and aromatic herbs to the space for a more sensory experience.

Some plants are just a pleasure to be around. Thyme has a wonderful scent, as does Lavender and Jasmine. Ornamental grasses lend a lovely texture and look beautiful when caught in a breeze. So why not plant up a container of sensory plants and keep it right by your entertaining space, or consider planting for texture, movement and perfume in nearby borders.


Mixed succulents in three metal pots displayed in metal tray with gravel surrounded by seaside items - © GAP Photos

Mixed succulents in three metal pots displayed in metal tray with gravel surrounded by seaside items – © GAP Photos

If you are on Instagram, you may be familiar with a new succulent trend which is gaining lots of popularity. It even has its own hashtag #succiepotinapot . Here at GAP we have had lots of fun recreating this design style and we’re really excited to share the results.

All you need are your succulents, succulent compost, gravel for topdressing and two different sized pots that complement each other. You can create all kinds of different styles; the possibilities are endless. Why not create a sea-side theme with galvanised containers, shells and driftwood, or more traditional look with terracotta? We also suggest using a dark gravel or topdressing to really make your succulents pop.

These containers will last for ages as they are, as long as they are kept in the right conditions. Remember that many succulents are tender, so need to be kept protected from colder temperatures. They also should be sheltered from the rain. A sunny porch or sheltered patio are ideal locations for these pots in the warmer months.

Have fun creating!