Monthly Archives: May 2016

Four Seasons in May

Oriental style garden with Acer, Azalea, Gunnera and bamboo. Wooden bridge over stream. Newton garden, Walsall, UK - © Marcus Harpur/GAP Photos

Oriental style garden with Acer, Azalea, Gunnera and bamboo. Wooden bridge over stream. Newton garden, Walsall, UK – © Marcus Harpur/GAP Photos

A colourful garden full of texture with over 100 Acers.

Path through Oriental style garden with Acers, Azalea, Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin', Pieris, Ilex and Taxus in raised borders in front of pavilion. Tony and Marie Newton, Walsall, UK - © Marcus Harpur/GAP Photos

Path through Oriental style garden with Acers, Azalea, Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’, Pieris, Ilex and Taxus in raised borders in front of pavilion. Tony and Marie Newton, Walsall, UK – © Marcus Harpur/GAP Photos

This is a truly unique garden. On initial viewing you could be forgiven for thinking the planting is completely traditional with the many conifers and annuals however, the owners have made it more interesting by manipulating the numerous Acers to create graphic scenes. Leaf colour and texture are used to make focal points and contrasting shapes are carefully positioned, giving a stunning tapestry of colour.

To view this feature in full, click here.

The bee friendly cottage garden by Helen Gallagher

Bee Attracting Plants

Bee pollenating Muscari armeniacum - © GAP Photos

Bee pollenating Muscari armeniacum – © GAP Photos

Attracting bees to your cottage garden is a great way to help the environment. Luckily, bees are often drawn to colourful, fragrant blooms. Try planting dusky lavenders, the rich blue vipers bugloss, red and pink Buddleia. Or else the lushly scented summer herbs, mint, rosemary, thyme. Succulents and climbing plants are also useful, as certain species of bee love honeysuckle and other deeper belled flowers. If you have room, crab apple and cherry trees are another wonderful source of food.

Create a Home for Bees

Welcome all bees and butterflies sign. Habitat for encouraging insects into the garden - © Tim Gainey/GAP Photos

Welcome all bees and butterflies sign. Habitat for encouraging insects into the garden – © Tim Gainey/GAP Photos

Most of us are aware of hive dwelling bees, however there are over 240 species of ‘solitary’ wild bees. They make individual nests in little holes for their young, and sometimes form colonies. These bees don’t produce honey, but they do collect nectar and pollinate our plants. Providing a ‘Bee Hotel’ where individual bees can live helps protect them from the elements and predators. It’s also another easy and attractive way to encourage these useful creatures to live in your garden!

Uncultivated Areas

A colourful wildflower border grown from a packet of annual seed mix. Plants include Poppies, Cosmos, Cornflowers and Viper's Bugloss - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

A colourful wildflower border grown from a packet of annual seed mix. Plants include Poppies, Cosmos, Cornflowers and Viper’s Bugloss – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Wildflowers like majoram are utterly beautiful, and ideal for a naturalised cottage garden. Keeping an ‘uncultivated’ area in your garden can also be beneficial for bees and butterflies. Wildflowers have declined at a dramatic rate – a potential factor in the decline of bees.

You can source seeds from a specialist, or buy turf ‘mats’ implanted with wildflowers. Collecting seeds from the wild isn’t necessarily a good idea. Consider how abundant that plant is before harvesting! The flowers can thrive in containers if you are renting, and will attract all manner of pollinators.

Nectar Rich Container Gardens

Wrought iron stand with pots of succulents and herbs. Wooden barrel by pots of box and heuchera. On right, Hosta 'Big Daddy', Hydrangea paniculatum 'Phantom' and Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphofila - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Wrought iron stand with pots of succulents and herbs. Wooden barrel by pots of box and heuchera. On right, Hosta ‘Big Daddy’, Hydrangea paniculatum ‘Phantom’ and Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphofila – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Container gardens are a neat way to contain exuberant plants (as anyone who’s ever had mint take over their garden will tell you!). They are also a great way to create ‘mini gardens’; clusters of herbs, vegetables or in this case, nectar rich plants designed to appeal to bees. The best way to go is to combine herbs, flowers and succulents. To fit with the cottage garden aesthetic, go with repurposed containers. Try an old metal watering can, a vintage box, even a pretty basket will look gorgeous.

There’s a tutorial on creating your own nectar rich garden here.

Embrace the Weeds

Freshly harvested vegetables and herbs: Courgette, chamomile, chive, lavender, feverfew, nasturtium, parsley, thyme and sage - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Freshly harvested vegetables and herbs: Courgette, chamomile, chive, lavender, feverfew, nasturtium, parsley, thyme and sage – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Daisies and buttercups look incredible in a cottage garden; they have a sweet, nostalgic feel. Yet traditionally, these ‘weeds’ have been a thing to attack and remove. They are strong and will crowd out other plants, so it is worth keeping an eye on them; but eradication needn’t be your goal.

A gentler way is to look on ‘weeds’ as colourful, hardy, and sometimes tasty plants that require very little maintenance. Dandelions, often the gardener’s nemesis, are actually so useful that many gardeners have actually begun cultivating them. Bees, butterflies and sparrows all feast on the plant – and so can we; the leaves make a surprisingly tasty salad.

Helen Gallagher

Helen Gallagher

Helen Gallagher

Helen Gallagher is an eco friendly gardener with a passion for colour and natural gardening. She has an English and Creative Writing degree and has written about creating low maintenance and futuristic gardens.

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Not long until Chelsea!!

The M and G garden, Gold medal winner. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014. Stipa gigantea in sunlight, Zelkova serrata tree, Allium cristophii, Iris Florentina, Octagonal Water feature made from Bath limestone - © GAP Photos/Stephen Studd/Designer: Cleve West, Sponsor: M&G investments

The M and G garden, Gold medal winner. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014. Stipa gigantea in sunlight, Zelkova serrata tree, Allium cristophii, Iris Florentina, Octagonal Water feature made from Bath limestone – © GAP Photos/Stephen Studd/Designer: Cleve West, Sponsor: M&G investments

It’s that time of year when there is a sense of excitement in the GAP Gardens office as the Chelsea Flower Show gets closer!

Garden designer Jodie Fedorko. The Old Forge Artisan Garden for Motor Neurone Disease Association - RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 - © GAP Photos/Joanna Kossak/Designers: Jodie Fedorko and Martin Anderson for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

Garden designer Jodie Fedorko. The Old Forge Artisan Garden for Motor Neurone Disease Association – RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – © GAP Photos/Joanna Kossak/Designers: Jodie Fedorko and Martin Anderson for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

So what better way is there to look forward to it than to look over some pictures of the past few years. We have picked a small selection of images which brings the show to life, the designs, the gardens and of course the people!

The Telegraph Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014, gold medal winner. View across garden- Pleached limes. Lawn with corners of clipped box mounds to wall of marble with white metal lattice seats. Lemons in terracota pots. Iris - © GAP Photos/Charles Hawes/Design: Tommaso del Buono, Paul Gazerwitz. Sponsor: The Telegraph

The Telegraph Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014, gold medal winner. View across garden- Pleached limes. Lawn with corners of clipped box mounds to wall of marble with white metal lattice seats. Lemons in terracota pots. Iris – © GAP Photos/Charles Hawes/Design: Tommaso del Buono, Paul Gazerwitz. Sponsor: The Telegraph

Why not take a few minutes out of your day to look at these images and the many more on our website.