Monthly Archives: February 2016

Rupert Wheeler

Ceanothus 'Concha' arches over a garden seat in a courtyard - © Jacqui Hurst/GAP Photos

Ceanothus ‘Concha’ arches over a garden seat in a courtyard – © Jacqui Hurst/GAP Photos

Rupert and his wife bought a listed Georgian former furrier’s factory back in 1997. Rupert cleverly designed this small garden, transforming a once box like garden filled with bricks and concrete into a beautiful courtyard garden that compliments the house.

Rupert who is a trained Architect has designed the small space (16ft x 50ft) creating structure throughout the garden to link the interior with the garden. Plants had to be carefully picked to reflect the lack of light within the garden.

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Somerset Lodge in Winter


Somerset Lodge
is a part formal, part informal garden in Somerset.

The backbone of the garden is outlined by dramatic use of topiary, both Yew and Box holding the garden together horizontally and drawing the eye upwards with large Yew pyramids which contrast with the softer natural tree line beyond. The formal garden is split into interesting areas, a large terrace with playful box topiary in unusual shapes; snails shells, ice-cream twirls. A theatre with a sculpture of a Wyvern, a dragon which Karen has adopted for the garden. A long, thin private garden which in spring is filled with colour. A Kitsch garden with reflecting balls and beyond all this lies a meadow filled with Pyrus and Rugosa roses. Points of interest: Clay, winter structure, bold structures, use of height, screening.

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Creating shape with shrubs

It’s all well and good planting annual and perennial flowers in the garden, but they’re nothing without a strong support act. While many bedding plants are over in a flash, woody shrubs play the long game, offering a backbone of structure upon which more fleeting plants can lean. Placing shrubs well takes care and precision. With many having a lifespan of 15 years or more, it pays dividends to get it right.

The Winter Garden. Cambridge Botanic Gardens - © Howard Rice/GAP Photos

The Winter Garden. Cambridge Botanic Gardens – © Howard Rice/GAP Photos

This traditionally planted border at the Cambridge Botanic Garden shows how winter can be just as eye-catching as any other season. The bright stems of dogwoods add vertical accents of lime green and blood red behind hummocks of winter-flowering heathers. Behind the dogwoods are low-growing junipers and winter box, which then gradually lead the eye to the larger mounds of evergreen tree foliage behind.

Cornus controversa, Phormium, Senecio and Conifer. The Garden House - © S&O/GAP Photos

Cornus controversa, Phormium, Senecio and Conifer. The Garden House – © S&O/GAP Photos

This image, in complete contrast, shows that colour doesn’t have to be key. Green is planted in abundance, with different tones and variegations adding striking disparities. A bold striped phormium nestles between an emerald Rodgersia and silvery senecio. Your eye is then drawn vertically using an upright conifer to the graceful tiers of the Cornus controversa above.

Clipped box in the topiary garden with shrubs - Windy Ridge - © Carole Drake/GAP Photos

Clipped box in the topiary garden with shrubs – Windy Ridge – © Carole Drake/GAP Photos

In this garden formality and informality sit happily beside one another, thanks to this semicircle of three tightly clipped box balls. The clean lines of the box are reinforced with brick edging and a gravel mulch. Outside the circle chaos happily ensues, with a merry tangle of shrubs in randomly shaped beds.