Rejuvenating your garden

As spring approaches, The Moment magazine online's garden guru ANNE SMITH wonders how many people think that now would be a good time to redesign the garden...

Even if you do not want to carry out major renovation work, when you have lived with your garden for some years sometimes a few changes can revitalize your plot. The same applies if you have just moved into a new house and want to change the garden.

Having estimated your site’s potential and decided what you, the user, actually want from it, it is time to put some hard facts about the area on paper so that you can produce a design to work to when constructing and then replanting the garden.

The type of soil in your garden will be a guide to the type of plants that you can grow, provided that other variables, such as drainage, weather and the amount of sunlight that your garden receives also suit the plants you choose. Soil condition depends on its texture, and this can always be improved with the additional of organic matter, particularly on either clay or sandy soil.

Before choosing your plants you need to consider colour. Bright splashes of colour, which every seeds man’s catalogue would have you use, will only last for a limited period, for most plants actually flower for no more than one month of the year. Primarily you should be concerned with more subtle colour – the hues and tones of permanent foliage which last the whole year through. The ‘walls’ of your outside room should be a background mass of subtle colour. Against this background you can introduce your plants.

By the term ‘perennials’ most gardeners refer to the hardy herbaceous perennials used in borders and mixed planting schemes. What you are looking for is a mixture of ‘architectural form’ and colour. Here are some suggestions and most of these plants will tolerate acid and alkaline soils in well drained, sunny locations, but it is always worth checking the label if you are in doubt: Acanthus, Achilles, Alchemilla, Aster, Bergonia, Campanula, Chrysanthemum, Dianthus, Digitalis, Echinops, Gaillardia, Geranium Helenium, Hemerocallis, Iris, Kniphofia, Macleaya, Oenothera, Phlox, Rudbeckia, Saliva, Sedum, Stachys, Veronica. Grasses add good structural form but they can be invasive, setting seeds indiscriminately, possible where you do not want them!

Window boxes
If you do not have a garden or do not wish to undertake big gardening projects, window boxes and containers make colourful alternatives.

There is a huge variety of plants that you can choose for window box or container planting schemes. Obviously you can’t grow every garden plant in a window box or container but you can have a good deal of creative fun choosing the style, colour scheme and shape for your container. For a permanent framework use evergreen foliage plants and small conifers. Variegated ivy, available in a wide range of creamy white and yellow green combinations, will provide trailing swags of background colour. Depending on the season you can add winter and spring colour with winter-flowering pansies and spring-flowering bulbs. When the bulbs and spring flowers are finished, removed them and add your favourite summer bedding plants.

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