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Welcome to Jacqui Baillie-Lamberts Blog


Here you can read what is going on in the garden and what you should be doing.


Many thanks




Manager of Hard/soft Landscapes

By This section is contributed by Jacqui Baillie-Lamb, Mar 21 2016 07:47PM

We have been so busy with project after project.

Our Cobham job has been finished. Complete refurb of the swimming pool and the paving, having added custom made trays for the pool cover we have increased the space for the client. We are happy to say the customer is very happy with the end results.

On our second site another refurb is under way, this time it’s a crazy paving going around the swimming pool. The cedar tree was removed and new trellis has been popped up

Keep an eye out for then results.

By This section is contributed by Jacqui Baillie-Lamb, Mar 2 2016 07:17PM

Looking Good

The snowdrops (Galanthus) are looking particularly good now and are the first bulbs to give you a show in the new year. Don’t be tempted to buy snowdrop bulbs to plant unless you want to dig half way to Australia to get them in deep enough (don’t believe the planting depths on the packets!). Instead - wait a bit to buy them ‘in the green’ and plant them deep.

Although it’s not a showstopper, Viburnum tinus is flowering well at this time of year and it’s white flowers and evergreen foliage make it a useful addition to the garden. It gets quite big but it’s useful as a ‘background’ or hedging plant and can be pruned back after flowering to keep it compact. Viburnum burkwoodii is a deciduous relative and its pale pink flowers are highly scented.It’s a bit of a mouthful but Sarcoccoca (Christmas Box) is worth having in every garden. It’s evergreen and glossy. It won’t win any prizes for it’s looks but the scent is amazing at this time of the year. I tend to tuck them in shady areas near doors so you get the scent as you go in and out of the house.

You don’t always need flowers to create a colourful scene in the garden. Cornus (Dogwood) has fantastic coloured stems at this time of the year and for most of winter. A group of three or more Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ will brighten up a dull corner.

What to do in the garden this monthIf

it’s dry - have a weeding session now and save yourself a lot of bother later on. I use a three pronged cultivator to grub them up. It’s not too late to mulch round shrubs to stop the weeds coming up for a while – leaf mould or old compost works well

.It’s a good time to attack your Buddleias before they take over the garden. After cutting out any dead stems. Prune each stem back to a nice healthy pair of shoots near to the older, thicker growth to re-shape the plant. You can be quite brutal with them – I usually ‘pollard’ plants in clients’ gardens to get a lot of bushy growth and flowers later on. To do this – cut them back to a pair of shoots just above the main trunk.

Mahonias can be cut back after flowering. Sometimes they get very leggy with a mop of leaves on top. If yours have got out of hand – cut a third of the stems back to just above a node – like a knuckle in the stems. If you do this evenly all over it thins out the shrub and you get new, bushy growth from the cut ends within a month or so.

Now is also the time to stop your winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) getting out of hand. Once it’s finished flowering it can be pruned. I tend to prune back each stem to about two or three pairs of leaves/buds from the main stems. Winter Jasmine can be clipped like a hedge and this seems to work surprisingly well if you like your plants neat.

Hellebores are starting to flower now. If you notice that the old foliage is spotty and brown – just chop it off at the base and leave the young growth.

Late February/early March is the time to cut back deciduous ornamental grasses. The first thing to work out is which grasses you have to cut back. Generally the evergreen grasses such as the Stipas just need the old, dead, growth pulling out to leave space for the new shoots. The deciduous grasses such as Miscanthus are the one’s you need to cut back now. Don’t be tempted to cut them down with shears – you will damage the new shoots coming through. Reduce the height with shears and then get in there with the secateurs to cut them down to the base – leaving the new short, green shoots.

Summer flowering bulbs are around in the garden centres now. If you aren’t confident about the weather – you can always start them off in pots of compost and plant them out later.

By This section is contributed by Jacqui Baillie-Lamb, Sep 25 2015 06:17PM

September and October

Autumn is finally with us but this is a great time to clear up the garden and think ahead to next year.

Looking Good

Sedums are still looking great at this time of the year. If you have poor or chalky/alkaline soil they will love it. Sometimes they can get splayed out as they get older – it looks like a cat has sat on them! Add some hidden supports or chop them half way back in June to keep them bushy.

Japanese Anenomes add height and colour in flower beds now. The white, double flowered ‘Whirlwind’ and the single ‘Honorine Jobert’ really show up well against other, darker, plants and in the early evening. There are plenty of shades of pink to choose from as well for example ‘Queen Charlotte’. They can be picky about which gardens they want to grow in – sometimes with no reason that I can figure out. Try a few and plant more if they decide to like your garden.

Rudbeckias such as the tall ‘Herbstonne’ (1 ½ metres plus) and the much shorter Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (approx. 50cm) give you a lovely yellow-gold glow in your flower beds at this time of the year. The flowers are like large gold daisies with prominent brown centres.

Grasses really come into their own in Autumn. My absolute favourites are Miscanthus in any form. You can get them from 60 cm to 2 or 3 metres high so they can add a lot of height in a border and make good standalone specimens. Most have beautiful shimmering seadheads in the Autumn. Some to try are Miscanthus sinsensis ‘Zebrinus’ - with yellow splashed leaves and copper coloured seed heads. ‘Morning Light’ has thin strap like leaves with a cream stripe – it rarely flowers but has an impressive fountain shape. For a smaller Miscanthus, chose ‘Yakushima Dwarf’. This gets to about a metre tall and has lovely seedheads. They are great to fill out a bed mixed in with perennials.

The Stipa family of grasses are also beautiful in Autumn. Stipa gigantea or Spanish Oats has a clump of evergreen foliage and tall stems of oat like seedheads. Stipa tenuissima is a soft ponytail grass that looks good on the edge of a bed – allow space for it to flop over in the rain.

The Penstemons that I mentioned a few months ago are still going strong and they give you excellent late summer and autumn colour if you keep deadheading them.Ceratostigma plumbaginoides has bright blue flowers and is great scrambling over the front of a sunny wall.

Ceratostigma wilmottianum is more of a bushy shrub with the same blue flowers.Nerine bowdenii is a bulb that produces sugary pink flowers. It looks exotic but it can cope well in sandy soils, preferably in front of a sunny wall to give it extra warmth.Autumn is also a great time for berries to add colour to the garden.

Sorbus trees, Euonymous/Spindle bushes and the striking Callicarpa have fantastic berries now. What to do in the garden in early autumnPrune climbing and rambling roses in October so the long stems don’t get damaged in the winter. Cut back to an outward facing bud and tie in growth to a support.Cut back most perennials as they finish flowering.

Leave growth on Sedums, Anenomes, Penstemons and Verbenas to protect them over winter. Clip over Lavenders to deadhead and re-shape them, being careful not to cut into the old wood. They can be cut back further in Spring if you want to renovate them.

Lift Dahlias and Cannas after the first frost to store them over winter.Plant perennials and transplant shrubs now while the soil is still warm. Keep watering camellias and rhododendrons to help them form buds if there is no rain.

Collect up dead leaves from lawns as soon as possible so your lawn doesn’t get yellow or mouldy under the leaves. Bag them up in strong black sacks and wet them a little – store them behind a shed and in a year you will have leaf mould to mulch flowers beds.

By This section is contributed by Jacqui Baillie-Lamb, Aug 18 2015 09:46PM

A lot of the high summer flowers are fading and August can seem a bit dull in some gardens. By using some of the late summer flowering perennials and shrubs you can keep the colour and interest going right through into autumn.

Looking Good

Hibiscus syriacus is the hardy version of the tropical hibiscus. The large flowers come in pink, blue, mauve and white – L’oiseau Blue is one of the most commonly available – it has lovely large blue flowers. It needs a sunny, well-drained spot. It’s best in the middle or back of a bed because it can get to approx. 2 metres tall.

The daisy family come into their own now – Asters, Echinaceas, Heleniums, Anthemis, etc. all give colour at this time of year and into autumn. If you think the Micklemas Daisy is old fashioned, try the more delicate Aster frikartii ‘Monch’. It’s a lilac, mauve daisy that can need a bit of support.

Echinaceas come in a wide range of dusky purples, pinks, oranges and whites. However I’ve not had much luck keeping the more unusual colours alive for long! The dusky purple Echinacea purpurea varieties are the most likely to keep going. They can object to being planted in autumn and seem to do better if you wait to plant them in spring.

Heleniums are great if you want to add tall, hot coloured flowers to your beds.

The rusty Moorheim Beauty is a favourite, however there are loads of yellow, gold and orange varieties to choose from.

Agapanthus are so exotic looking but they are really quite hardy if you pick the right ones. The larger, evergreen africanus varieties are a bit tender but the deciduous ones that die back in autumn are the hardiest - leave some their dead leaves on over winter as a blanket to protect them. Put them in amongst other lower growing flowers and foliage so their tall flowers can poke through. Plant them close together – they flower better if they are crowded. They also work well in a pot.

Crocosmias come in a wider variety of colours now – so you don’t have to stick with the rampant montbretia. The tall, bright red Lucifer is great for the middle or back of a bed but you can find smaller plants in shades of apricot, yellow and oranges that work well towards the front.

To give you some contrasting shapes in the flower beds – consider Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’. The tall blue golf balls really show up well against the other flower and foliage shapes at this time of the year. Keep the seedheads on through the winter if you can.As with all perennials they are better planted in groups of 3 or 5 or more.

By This section is contributed by Jacqui Baillie-Lamb, Jun 10 2015 06:49PM

We have been so busy with planting in April/May I haven’t had a moment to think about all of the maintenance that needs to be done. May has flown by so I’m combining late May and June in this blog. This is one of the busiest times of the year when we get the garden ready to perform throughout the Spring and Summer.

Looking Good

Aquilegias are flowering well this year. They are a cottage garden favourite with such a wide variety of colours and forms. The dark purple and white ‘William Guiness’ is really striking. Plant them in 3’s or 5’s to make an impact. I planted a lot of Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Ruby Port’ for the first time last year – a really dark maroon, double form. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they re-appear again this year.

Shrubby Potentillas (Potentilla fruticosa) start flowering in May. They are so popular in what I call ‘car park planting’ that they have fallen out of favour in gardens. I still use them if you want a long- lasting yellow, white, cream or pink flowering shrubs. ‘Goldfinger’ is a bright yellow and ‘Limelight’ is a more subtle cream with a yellow centre.

The Hostas start to show in May. I grow them for their foliage rather than the flowers. The variety is wonderful but if you want a few to start you off – ‘Sum and Substance’ is a good plain leaf, ‘Halcyon’ is a good blue/grey leaf and ‘Gold Standard’ is a yellow and green mix. Try to resist surrounding them with slug pellets – you will just attract the slugs! Dot a few a bit further away from the plants and keep the plants clean – pull off the fading foliage at the base so there’s nowhere for the slugs to hide.

Alliums are looking good – they start flowering in May and continue through the early summer. They should be planted in large drifts or clumps to get the best effect. Their foliage needs to be kept on after they flower and that can be quite messy – so plant them so that they poke up among other lower growing plants such as Nepeta (also looking good now) or Alchemilla mollis (Ladys Mantle). Don’t forget that chives are also Alliums. They are a pretty plant for the front of a bed – BUT they seed everywhere. Try Allium Purple Sensation for a tall purple flower or Allium christophii for a shorter stocky flower.

Poppies are starting to flower. There are so many varieties available but the lovely dusky pink Patty’s Plum is a favourite. Poppies don’t last long but they are so beautiful they are worth it. Plant them behind perennials that flower later (like Asters) and they will cover the Poppy’s foliage as it dies down. If you have gaps in your flower beds why not sprinkle a packet of poppy seeds in Autumn or Spring and they will give you colour this time next year.

Campanula poscharskyana is excellent ground cover in sunny beds or on walls. It has pretty violet flowers. It does spread like mad but it’s easily pulled out if it comes up where you don’t want it

.Irises and Sisyrinchium create good, strong, upright plants in beds at this time of the year. Make sure you get the right Iris for your ground conditions – some love moist soil and others prefer to be baked in the Sun with their tubers exposed. Sisyrinchiums have creamy flowers that create a good barrier between any clashing colours in flower beds. As with all perennials they are better planted in groups of 3 or 5.

Another invaluable plant this month and beyond is Salvia nemorosa ‘ Caradonna’ . You see these at Chelsea every year – with good reason. They have upright dark purple flowers that work in groups of 3 or more. Salvia sylvestris ‘Mainarcht’ is a pretty blue/purple that is less upright in habit.

What to do in the garden this month

If you plant at this time of the year - make sure you water new plantings regularly.

Weeding is never ending at this time of year – especially after we have rain. Keep on top of it now and you’ll save yourself work later on.

Put supports in place near your taller perennials like Delphiniums and Alcea (Hollyhocks) – before they grow and flop over.

Keep tying in your Clematis plants with soft twine as they grow – rather than being confronted with a mound of tangled stems later in the year. Feed them as well at this time of the year to improve flowering.

Deadhead and shape/prune Rhododendrons after they have flowered. Prune back stems to a pair of healthy shoots.

Prune the early summer flowering shrubs such as Weigeila, Deutzia, Kolkwitzia and Philadelphus when their flowers start to fade. As usual prune them back to a healthy pair of leaves. If you need to restore them cut a third of the stems back to the lowest leaves you can and repeat this over the next few years.

Now is also the time to re-shape and prune your Choisyas (after they have finished flowering) if they have lost their rounded, cushiony shape. It can seem unfair because the foliage is so good at this time of the year – but it will give you a stronger, bushier shrub. Cut back to a healthy pair of leaves. I’ve started clipping them over and then just tidying any snags back to a pair of leaves with secateurs and that seems to work well.

Cut back early spring flowering perennials such as Pulmonarias now so they produce fresh foliage.Pinch out leading shoots of Fuchsias to encourage bushy growth.

Deadhead Euphorbias as the plumes of bracts die off. Wear gloves and be careful of the milky sap that drips out of the cuts - it can give you a skin reaction.

Aphids start to cover Lupins soon - use an organic soap spray to get rid of them.

Prune Pyracanthas towards the end of the month. They usually push up long stems above the flowering stems – these can be cut back so you can see the flowers and eventually the berries when they form. Just cut back unwanted stems to keep in checkContinue to remove bulb foliage as it dies back.

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