There are always things to do in the garden in December. These simple gardening tasks will offer some calm and relief amid the busyness of the festive season. So, here are our top jobs to get done in the garden this month.
Don’t smash the ice on a pond with a spade as the shock waves could kill fish or other wildlife. Create a breathing hole by putting a rubber ball in the water before it freezes, removing it once ice forms.
One of the many delights of strolling through the garden, beyond the visual is the fragrance and nothing combines both better than the Rose. We’ve hand-picked a selection of the most renowned, sweet-smelling bloomers that are impossible to resist.
Scroll down and discover some of the most fragrant roses you can grow.
Dark and alluring. Rose Black Baccara showcases petals as close to black as you can get in the Rose world. This Hybrid Tea Rose will be the envy of your neighbours when the scent of their highly fragrant petals fill the summer air. Perfect for border and containers.
Bring the bright beams of sunshine to the summer garden with these golden yellow, scented blooms. Flowering from summer in to autumn, this beautiful Floribunda Rose produces large layered petals that give off a delightfully sweet fragrance. An ideal bloomer for showcasing at the front of the border.
Margaret Merril has a delicate beauty and one of the best perfumes. This repeat flowering Floribunda Rose was rated number one for fragrance by England’s Royal National Rose Society ahead of all of the English Roses. These blush-tinted white flowers will brighten up the garden, without a doubt.
Why not add a pinch of pink to the garden border? Rose Prima Ballerina is a beautiful large-flowering Hybrid Tea Rose with delightfully strong scented candyfloss pink blooms. Enjoy this intoxicating shrub as a striking statement plant at the back of the border or in containers.
One of the original and still the best of the ‘blue’ shade Roses. This magical Hybrid Tea Rose will dazzle in the garden with their profusion of icy-blue flowers. This florist favourite is perfect for summer borders and as cut flowers for the home and will add a pleasant fragrance that cannot be missed.
One of the most popular Floribunda varieties. Finely shaped trusses of heavily scented blooms flower in a blend of coral pink and orange shades. Plant where you can appreciate and enjoy their sweet fragrance. Perfect for small spaces, pots and containers and borders.
An excellent all-round Rose with deep coral-red blooms. Noted for its incredibly powerful perfume, this lovely Hybrid Tea Rose produces a strong fruity fragrance that will create a beautiful sensory experience in the summer garden. Perfect for attracting pollinators to the garden.
Meet one of the world’s most famous Roses. This award-winning Rose Double Delightwas voted into the Rose Hall of Fame in 1985. A fantastic Hybrid Tea Rose with ravishing ruffled, strawberry-edged blooms. Their extremely fragrant flowers are perfect for cutting.
Birds can play a vital role in the garden’s ecosystem, from natural pest controllers to simply bringing joy and life to the garden. By choosing the right plants, you can produce both food and cover for garden birds all year round. There are lots of ways to give bird populations a boost, from creating nesting shelters to planting shrubs rich in berries.
In this week’s blog, we have listed the top bird-friendly shrubs to provide bird food and shelter to handy and simple crafts and tips to attract these wild visitors to the garden.
A classic winter wonder. Holly Blue Angel produces shiny evergreen foliage with an unusual blue tinge on the leaves and masses of red berries in the winter. When birds need a source of food in the winter, Holly berries are the perfect snack.
A brilliant evergreen hedging plant. It is slow growing, low maintenance and acts as a deterrent with its dense prickly barrier. With bright red and orange berries in winter, this native plant is a great source of food and shelter for birds.
A robust Pyracantha. Producing masses of red berries in summer and clusters of white blossoms in summer, this decorative shrub adds plenty of interest for wildlife as a spot for nesting birds and they contain an abundance of pollen for bees.
A beautiful and useful shrub. With sprinklings of white June blossoms followed by masses of golden berries, this multi-tasking plant is a great climbing, specimen or screening plant and is also well-loved by birds in the winter.
This popular British Native hedge can withstand harsh winds and temperatures and the thick and thorny branches make an excellent barrier. Red berries appear during the autumn months to tempt hungry birds to the garden.
This robust little shrub blooms with beautiful pink spring blossoms amongst bright green foliage. Even in the winter, the stout, interweaving branches and their red berries act as a nesting sight and food source for birds.
This climbing vine is perfect for adding autumn colour to the garden. At different times of the year, this vigorous creeper provides fruit, caterpillars and nesting material for birds. Its dense leafy cover also makes great shelter.
You won’t find a more dramatic sight in autumn than a Boston Ivy. Their leaves change from a summer green to a bright crimson in the autumn. This variety produces clusters of dark blue berries that are a perfect food source for hungry birds.
This winter-flowering Honeysuckle produces masses of fragrant, creamy-white flowers. In autumn, it provides berries and shelter for birds and in summer, the scented flowers attract insects; a great food source for birds.
It’s easy to attract birds to the garden, here are some bird-friendly gardening tips that you can do in any outdoor space, big or small.
DIY Bird feeders/boxes
Turn your garden into a desirable home for birds from winter through to spring with a cosy nestbox. You can even make your own mini nature reserve for them if you’re handy. The best weatherproof and secure material for constructing your own is wood.
Garden birds benefit from feeding all year round. Place feeders high off the ground. Use wire mesh feeders for peanuts and seed feeders for other seed. Where cats are a problem, use a bird table where cats cannot reach. You can even make your own by simply using sticking bird seed to a toilet paper roll using peanut butter and using string to hang them from a branch.
Many birds will use bird baths and ponds for bathing, so urge birds to seek out your garden as their one-stop shop for their daily routines. Keep an eye on your bird bath over winter to ensure they don’t freeze over in the cold temperatures.
With increasingly hotter summers in Britain, climate change presents us with the challenge of gardening with less water. However, there is a considerable range of plants that can tolerate dry conditions. These drought-tolerant plants are the perfect choice for sunny spots in your garden.
Nepeta are a reliable perennial, very hardy and tolerant of all conditions and it returns reliably each year. They are very effective even in dry and drought areas, so they are useful for even the most difficult spots in the garden.
This vigorous perennial produces clusters of aromatic, small lavender blue flowers. This variety is a perfect addition to borders and edging beds, as well as attracting bees and butterflies to the summer garden. With a grey-green foliage and masses of flowers, this Nepeta adds a lovely, soft, gentle touch to cottage gardens.
The very hardy and heat-loving Mimosa is ideal wherever a full, dense canopy is desired during the summer months. Native to Southeastern Australia and then widely introduced to the Mediterranean , these plants are no stranger to higher, tropical temperatures.
The beautiful feathered foliage of the Mimosa Acacia will delight in the spring time, with their masses of fragrant yellow flowers. Create a statement display in your garden by planting this variety in patio container, but equally they are suited at the back of a border.
Sedums are superb drought-resistant succulents that produce domes of star-shaped flowers in the summer and autumn seasons. Sedums have evolved to live in exposed conditions, where soil is very well-drained and sun and wind dry everything out quickly, so over the centuries, they have developed some inbuilt coping mechanisms such as fleshy, water-storing leaves and stems.
This striking Sedum produces large bursts of vibrant pink flowers that are wildly-loved by butterflies and bees. This strong, compact forming plant makes a great border addition or make a bigger impact by planting in groups so they will really stand out in the late summer garden.
A native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, it’s no wonder that Lavender makes a great drought-tolerant addition to the garden. It can be used as a low hedge, specimen plant, or even a cut flower, and will add a beautiful fragrance to the garden.
This compact evergreen shrub blooms with spikes of small, highly fragrant, blue-purple flowers in mid to late summer. Plant en masse to produce ground cover, low screening, or in lines to create a great border effect.
5. Campsis Radicans
Also known as Trumpet Vines, these hardy plants are fast climbers that grow well even in poor soil and full sunlight, and the blossoms attract hummingbirds too. Campsis Radicans can live for decades and although they die back in the winter, they’re quick to spring back to life in the spring.
Blooming with clusters of showy, exotic warm red trumpet-shaped blooms, this self-clinging climber is ideal for a sunny wall or fence. These beautiful tropical flowers are marked with deep red insides appear above long, coarsely toothed, glossy dark green leaves with pointed tips and distinctive veining.
Ceanothus, commonly known as California Lilac, are very drought tolerant shrubs and offer almost everything that a gardener could wish for in a shrub. They are free-flowering, drought tolerant, easy to cultivate and grow in most soils.
Beautiful in its simplicity, this fantastic award-winning shrub delights in the summer garden. Its rich glossy leaves nestle amongst sky blue florescence comprising of densely compact panicles that burst into bloom like tiny fireworks in spring and early summer. This evergreen variety looks beautiful in patio pots, or against a wall.
Jasmine provide more than delicate tendrils and sweet perfume, they create substance, structure and colourful blooms to the garden. This genus of shrubs and vines contains around 200 species, native to tropical and warm temperate regions and a number of species have become naturalised in Mediterranean Europe.
This highly fragrant, vigorous climber produces clusters of beautiful star-shaped white flowers, which bloom from June throughout the summer months. This is a perfect climber for growing against a warm, sunny wall. Jasmine flowers are ideal for perfuming the air with their sweet fragrance in the summer garden.
Native to the American Tropics, Verbena plants are beautiful examples of drought-tolerant plants. These popular perennials produce rich nectar, so butterflies and bees also love them.
Elegant and long lasting. This bestselling Verbena variety produces masses of small purple flowers in clusters. With a good pest resistance, this fantastic border plant will delight in the summer garden, flowering from June to October. They also will make a great addition to cut flower displays.
9. Russian Sage
One of the toughest plants that needs little care. Russian Sage loves direct sun, tolerates almost any soil and is extremely drought tolerant. Its fine texture makes Russian Sage a good choice if you’re seeking contrast with plants exhibiting a coarser texture.
Native to central Asia, Russian Sage’s natural habitat is on dry plains. This variety produces highly scented silver leaves that are topped with spikes of gorgeous, tiny violet purple bell-shaped flowers in late summer. The impressive flowers and foliage look amazing planted in a border or patio pot in the summer garden.
Agapanthus are some of the most beautiful and reliable summer plants you can grow. Once established, Agapanthus are tough enough to withstand dry spells without stressing. Originating from the cliffs of South Africa, they naturally enjoy lots of sunshine and are naturally resistant to wind.
This stunning bi-colour variety blooms in the summer with purple buds that open to reveal white flowers with a lilac purple stripe through each petal. Also known as the African Lily, these plants are drought tolerant and enjoy plenty of sunlight.
Knowing your soil type can be crucial to planning out the planting in your garden. The soil provides your plants with nutrients, water and air that they need for healthy growth and development, but depending on the plot of ground, that can determine what plants, shrubs or trees can grow their successfully.
3 Step System to Test Your Soil
Dig a hole 6 to 10 inches deep in the soil.
Separate an intact section about the size of a soup can and break it apart with your fingers.
Determine whether the soil is cloddy, powdery or granular (ideally your soil should be made up of different sized crumbs that hold their shape under slight pressure).
Known as heavy soil (sticky when wet, rock hard when dry).
Feels smooth (not gritty) between the fingers.
Drains slowly after rain.
Takes a long time to warm up in spring.
Heavy to dig and cultivate.
Usually rich in plant nutrients.The following plants are well-adapted to clay soils:
This shrub is an underrated evergreen shrub for clay soil. The opening of its flowers announce the end of winter and its white flowers (pink in bud) provide a pretty backdrop for a border in early spring. Dense, compact growth make this a useful plant for screening off a view and creating a feeling of enclosure in the garden.
A sweetly scented honeysuckle is a true summer treat and this species of honeysuckle will grow well on clay soil. A scented climber is always a memorable plant, the perfume easy to access, especially if you grow it by your front door. The variety ‘Serontina’ has flowers that display a vivid deep red colouring.
This evergreen perennial produces spires of pink or red flowers in spring. The leaves (the ‘elephant’s ears’) are tinged with red in winter. A good plant for ground cover, it looks at its best planted in a block because the flowers have more impact in big numbers. A very tough plant for clay soil and tolerant of partial shade too.
Add Organic Matter (compost, aged manure) – this helps improve drainage, lighten heavy soil and adds nutrients. Before planting in spring add the organic matter to the soil with a 2-3 inch layer.
Build Raised Beds – As clay soil holds water, raised beds can improve drainage by encouraging water to run off.
Mulch Beds over Winter – Mulch with organic matter during the growing season and winter to help protect the soil from compaction and minimize weed growth.
Sandy soil is the largest particle in soil and does not hold nutrients well.
High proportion of sand and little clay.
Drains quickly after rain or watering.
Easy to work and cultivate.
Warm up quicker in spring than clay soils.
Low in nutrients – very acidic.
The following plants are well-adapted to sandy soils:
There are an incredible diversity of Sedums available. They are succulents, so by nature they are adapted to dry, sandy soil. Most are ground covers that make great rock garden plants. There is also a taller variety called Autumn Joy that is a good choice for its extremely late bloom.
Giant Alliums will perform well year after year in sandy soil with little care, making them a great choice for a semi-naturalized meadow planting. Alliums are an easy to grow, very distinctive late spring and early summer flowering bulb, being very showy when planted in beds, borders or rock gardens.
One of Britain’s most beautiful and popular summer flowering shrubs. Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) is an excellent choice for sandy soils, since they can adapt to most soil types. These upright deciduous shrubs are a wildlife haven. Their tubular, fragrant flowers are a superb way of attracting butterflies and bees into the garden.
Prepare planting sites with moisture-retentive, well-rotted organic matter (farm manure, compost or leaf mould).
When planting in spring, incorporate a slow-release fertilizer.
Water thoroughly and regularly during dry periods.
Ideal soil for gardening.
Mainly organic matter.
Very fertile and hold moisture well.
The following plants are well-adapted to peaty soils:
A fragrant and effective and colourful mixture of summer flowering Heathers offer an increasing superb display every year. This beautiful and colourful ground cover not only adds beauty to the garden but can help cut down on the weeding too.
Nothing is more beautiful than an Azalea shrub in spring bloom and can be grown in nearly any garden. Azalea Tunis is a highly fragrant deciduous variety which has gigantic red flowers boasting long, decorative stamens. The blazing red, showy flowers are truly a sight to behold on a sunny spring day.
Shrubs such as Witch Hazel do particularly well when planted in peaty soils. Our exotic collection of three Chinese Witch Hazel is the perfect way to breathe some life and colour back into the winter garden. These deciduous, winter flowering shrubs produce clusters of sweetly scented, crinkled flowers in a range of fiery shades.
Blend peat soil with rich organic matter, compost and lime to reduce the acidity.
Even mix of sand, silt and clay.
Feels fine-textured and slightly damp.
Adequate drainage, great structure and moisture retaining.
Easily cultivated and full of nutrients.
Ideal soil all year round.
The following plants are well-adapted to loamy soils:
A vigorous climbing plant. Wisteria looks particularly effective when trained over a bare wall or pergola, making it a superb feature plant, and its exquisite aroma make it particularly attractive to bees and butterflies. Our ‘Multijuga’ variety produces delicate trailing clusters of highly fragrant lilac flowers from May through to September.
One of the earliest flowering varieties, this lovely shrub will produce an abundance of rose-purple blooms as early as February and throughout March. For a truly stunning effect plant above a carpet of dainty white Snowdrops, which will flower around the same time.
These daisy-like flowers are one of the most familiar and renowned of all the Anemones White Splendour is excellent for naturalising in areas with full sun or partial shade. They bear large, pure white flowers with a pink flushed reverse in spring and will produce a superb carpet of white if left to multiply over the years to come.
Maintain its fertility with regular dressings of manure or compost.
Feels soft and soapy.
Fertile and drain fairly well.
Rich in nutrients.
Hold more moisture than sandy soils.
The following plants are well-adapted to silty soils:
These spring-flowering bulbs are well-suited for silty soil. There is nothing to match the breath-taking sight of a sweeping carpet of snowdrops, a marvellous herald of spring. Galanthus Woronowii is a giant white snowdrop with green markings. It’s beautiful nodding honey scented flower heads appear as early as January.
Hellebore is a group of flowering perennials that are well-suited to the moist, well-draining conditions of silty soil. These fine Hellebore Orientalis Mixed produce pretty bowl shaped flowers in February to March in an array of hues, some will be spotted within. When left undisturbed, they can produce expanding clumps of evergreen foliage.
Moisture-loving trees such as Dogwood perform well in silty soils. Cornus Midwinter Fire stays true to its namesake, slowly revealing brilliant flame-coloured stems as the leaves fall away. Shoots begin a yellow-orange, with the tips turning a brilliant red as the season goes on, giving the shrub a flaming look.
Add an inch of organic matter (compost, decaying sawdust, or wood shavings) yearly, then add organic fertilizers and then cover with a further 2-3 inches of mulch.
Avoid compaction – minimize walking on garden beds or consider planting on raised beds.
Silty soil has a tendency to become waterlogged – avoid overwatering.
Lumps of white chalk or flint stones are visible in the soil.
Either ‘heavy’ or ‘light’ depending if the soil mixed with the chalk is clay or sand.
Largely made up of calcium carbonate.
The following plants are well-adapted to chalky soils:
Trees and shrubs such as Mock Orange perform beautifully in chalky soils. The heady fragrance of the beautiful ‘Belle Etoile’ is a fantastic addition to the summer border. This Mock Orange, prized for its citrusy scent presents an abundance of single, pure white flowers through late spring and early summer.
Lilacs are perfect shrubs that will thrive even in chalky soils. The delicious fragrant flowers of lilac are not to be missed in the garden in spring and they are one of the season’s best cut flowers. Lilacs can become very big plants so the best place to plant them is at the back of a border or at the perimeter of the garden.
Lavender thrives in soils that are sandy, chalky or alkaline. A beautiful option for the summer garden is a traditional evergreen fragrant Lavender, Lavender Hidcote. Producing an abundance of purple-lilac coloured flowers in July through to September, they enjoy the free-draining soil provided by chalky soils. Grow them in full sun to get the best from them.
Break up the chalk to a depth of 30 inches so that plant roots can spread out and establish.
Add plenty of well-rotted organic matter (compost, composted green waste or manure) to improve the soil.
Attention to watering will be required for a longer period than other soil types.
Maintaining a beautiful garden can be quite a challenge. However by selecting the right perennial plants, you can have interest in the garden all year. Perennials provide flowers year after year. To help you grow a beautiful garden, we’ve selected our favourite perennial plants that will provide interest to your garden all-year round.
Native to Eastern North America and Canada, this popular perennial is perfect for adding colour and interest to the summer garden. An added bonus of this Monarda is that their enticing fragrance attracts butterflies and bees, so they are perfect for anyone planning a wildlife garden.
Native to western North America, Lewisia are one of the most treasured rock garden plants. This gorgeous little plant produces rosette-shaped flowers that come in a range of different colours and is super durable, even in sandy or rocky soils. Perfect for rockeries or pots.
Scabiosa is a plant that every gardener should try. Also known as the pincushion flower, Scabiosa is an easy-care plant that works well nearly everywhere and their flowers are a stunning sight to behold. Perfect for planting in sunny borders or flower beds.
Looking for a more natural garden scheme? Miscanthus are a great group of ornamental grasses that can give lots of pleasure in the garden and require very little work in return. These stunning hardy perennial grasses will make a great statement in any garden bed or border. Great year-round perennials for the garden.
There are few plants more forgiving of sun and bad soil than Sedum. These plants thrive in conditions that many other plants wouldn’t thrive in. Sedums are frequently used to create beautiful ground cover or rock gardens.
Native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere, Veronica are low-care, pollinator friendly and easy-to-grow perennials. Producing long spikes of tiny clustered flowers, Veronica come in a range of beautiful and vibrant colours. These drought tolerant plants will thrive in sunny spots around the garden.
Carex commonly feature triangular stems bearing linear or strap-shaped leaves. Their vibrant leaves provide long lasting appeal and require very little care for a low maintenance garden. Perfect year-round perennials for the garden.
#NationalPollinatorsMonth in June encourages the planting pollinator-friendly gardens with pollen and nectar-producing plants. When these gardens bloom, they attract bees, birds, bats, and other natural pollinators.
Woody shrubs provide food, shelter and breeding spaces for our wildlife. Nesting birds and hibernating insects make their homes in them and insects like butterflies use them as natural windbreaks. We have some great recommendations for shrubs that can make great habitats for wildlife in your garden.
Winning the RHS Garden Merit Award, Orange Glow is a sturdy evergreen shrub that produces spring blossoms and bright orange berries in the summer. This shrub provides nesting for birds and an abundant source of pollen and food for bees.
This vigorous deciduous shrub is smothered with large, fragrant, pompom-like clusters of white or pale green tinted flowers every May and June. Purple foliage appears autumn when vibrant red berries, which provide an excellent food source for the birds.
A true ‘wildlife hotel’. Bring a profusion of vibrant colour to the summer garden with the Honeysuckle plant. The sweet, heady scent carried on a warm summer breeze is one of the most delightful experiences of the season, and the scent is strongest at night, which attracts pollinating moths.
A must for wildlife lovers. Also known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’, this Buddleia’s beautiful cool violet-blue blooms produce a lovely honey fragrance that is guaranteed to attract masses of butterflies and bees.
Awarded the RHS ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ Award, this fantastic dwarf-growing shrub is certainly a wildlife haven. Weigela Pink Poppet is a long flowering variety that will attract a range of pollinators, from bees, butterflies and other nectar loving insects.
This variety produces small white flowers renowned for their vanilla aroma. After flowering, this compact and hardy shrub will also yield an abundance of shiny black berries that birds love, making it the perfect plant for a winter wildlife garden.
As the name ‘Constant Cheer’ suggests, this exquisite hardy perennial produces long lasting prolific orange red flowers that mature to purple. This creates an amazing multi-coloured flowering feature plant that is highly attractive to bees, butterflies and other insects.
Winner of the RHS Garden Merit Award for their reliable performance, stability of colour and form and good resistance to pests and diseases. This fantastic shrub is perfect for attracting bees into the garden, through their heady fragrance.
This upright deciduous shrub produces dense clusters of sweetly fragrant, light pink and white panicles over attractive heart-shaped foliage from late spring into early summer. When in bloom, the gorgeous flowers will bring butterflies to your garden.
The ideal border perennial with an abundance of star shaped flowers. Gaura Whirling Butterflies pretty free-flowering white flower spikes, which resemble a fluttering butterfly, and also are handy for attracting beneficial insects to the garden, such as bees.
When planting for nectar, avoid double flowers or sterile varieties that limit the feeding opportunities for insects.
Select suitable plants for your garden’s conditions.
There is a garden philosophy: If you like it, it’s a flower; if you don’t, it’s a weed. It’s hard to have compassion for weeds, but they’re just plants growing in places where they’re not wanted. One approach is to pull the weeds out by hand but why not try a completely different approach? A thick mass planting of ground cover plants can control weeds by keeping the direct sunlight off the soil, which can cause weeds to germinate and can compete with the weeds for water and nutrients.
Here’s a guide to identifying the garden enemies in your garden.
Some are annuals and have a one-year life cycle that ends with them setting seeds for the next generation.
Others are perennials, like dandelions (having a lifecycle longer than one year). You may need to eradicate the main root of these to remove them.
Ground Cover for Full Sun
In full sun, the following ground cover plants are fantastic choices for beautiful and efficient sunny borders.
This beautiful hardy and versatile plant forms spreading clumps of colour through late-spring and are perfect for ground cover planting. They love full sun and is tough enough to suppress weeds and thrive even in the poorest of soils.
The large and vivid blue bell-shaped flowers of this plant are certain to make a lasting impact as ground cover. With its reliability, stability of colour and long spreading foliage, this plant is the perfect partner for suppressing weeds in your garden whilst providing lasting beauty throughout summer.
This plant is a heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant ground cover option. This Thyme variety adds an attractive mat of leaves with highly fragrant pink/mauve flowers in the summer. They are great for planting in crevices as they are great for choking out weeds.
For erosion control, few ground covers work better than this creeping perennial. They’re drought-resistant, not picky about soil quality and love full sun. Carpet your garden in the rich colour of Phlox Candy Stripe to attract butterflies and keep the weeds at bay.
Our superb mixture of summer flowering Heather will provide a carpet of vibrant colour in a ground cover display. Not only do they brighten up otherwise dull areas, they can be planted in partial shade areas and also work to suppress weeds
Ground Cover for Partial Shade
For a slightly shady area of the garden, try these:
This excellent ground cover plant offers a mound of silvery-green foliage beneath an abundance of dainty pink flowers. This sprawling perennial is a great summer flowering plant to suppress pesky weeds, and can also be planted in rockeries and dry stone walls.
Also known as ‘Dragon’s Blood’ Sedum, this variety may be the hardiest and most versatile of all weed-suppressing ground covers. Their trailing stems root easily and do well in places where little else will grow. This year round beauty provides bright green fleshy leaves with star-shaped pink flowers in summer.
With this plant’s reliability, stability of colour and resistance to pests and diseases, it has earned the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Their masses of star-shaped blue and violet flowers will bloom into late August and are very useful in the ground where the spreading foliage will produce a blanket of weed suppressing ground cover.
Ajuga keeps weeds out by creeping over the surface of the soil, putting down roots as it goes, and all the leaves knit together to leave not a millimeter of soil into which a weed can wheedle. Also, their vibrant green and purple foliage with white edging are perfect for colourful ground cover.
Originating from Turkey and Bulgaria, Rose of Sharon is one of the best ground cover options. Not only are their yellow star-shaped flowering popular with bees, their shrubby low-growing habit is extremely valuable for smothering those unwanted pesky garden weeds.
This magnificent evergreen shrub produces vivid red foliage on long slender leaves that have a unique metallic glimmer. They form in to a dense dome of foliage making them excellent ground cover to suppress weeds. Also, they look fantastic planted in pots/containers.
This amazing Hosta sprouts large pure white leaves in late spring/early summer that develop green streaks as the season progresses. Perfectly happy in shade, when paired with other Hostas, these plants knit together seamlessly to create a blanket of efficient weed suppression.
After you’ve picked your ground cover plants, it’s time to get in the garden!
To help you plant your ground cover this spring, here is our handy step-by-step tutorial, so that you can get the best performance and results from your garden this summer.
Which plants work the best for weed control?
Dense evergreen varieties are the best option if your main aim is to suppress weeds.
What do i need to do to prepare for planting?
Be sure to fully eradicate all existing weeds before you plant, especially perennials such as dandelions, as they will become near impossible to remove once your ground cover is planted.
Will the ground cover kill my other plants?
Place decorative rocks or stepping stones between ground cover and perennials to maintain a barrier for spreading stolons, or above ground perennials.
When planting more than one ground cover variety, spread mulch between the plants to conserve soil moisture and reduce unwanted plant growth.
What aftercare is required for ground cover?
Spread netting or old sheets over ground covers during autumn leaf drop. It can be difficult to rake leaves out of thick ground covers, and allowing the leaves to sit can create unhealthy conditions.
Looking for a fun and eye catching colour scheme for your summer gardens this year? Bold, vibrant colours are set to make a return to our summer gardens in 2019. One natural way to combine colours in the garden is to choose complementary colours. That means selecting plants in colours that are across from one another on the colour wheel. The colour wheel is a gardener’s best friend when it comes to creating a pleasing garden palette. For example, red is across from green, orange is across from blue, and, as in this bright array, yellow is across from purple. So here are some of our favourite contrasting pairings for you to consider for your garden displays this year.
Red and Green
Red and green create a striking combination of colour. The green allows for a natural, calm feel. A landscape design of various shades of green, emphasizing tone, shape and texture, can be subtle and beautiful. Paired against the vibrancy of bright red flowers, the soothing tones of green really allow the red shades to create an impact. Here are some of our favourite pairings:
We think these two plants are a match made in heaven. The vivid coral red flowers of the Bessera Elegans provide a burst of colour against an attractive ground cover of the glossy evergreen Asarum Europaeum, which will create a truly magnificent exotic colour combination for the summer garden.
This perfect pairing is ideal for your borders. These plants grow to similar heights and with the contrasting tones of the lime-green bracts of the Euphorbia Martinii against the deep red flowers of the Gladioli Holland Pearl, they are guaranteed to dazzle in summer gardens. An added bonus of this pairing, is that they both can be used in gorgeous cut flower arrangements.
A lovely plant combination for a lasting display from mid to late summer. This butterfly attracting, deep red blooming Clematis Ville de Lyon is perfect for pairing alongside edible plants. Clematis plants prefer growing in full sun which makes the area around the base an ideal spot for growing edible plants like our Chive Staro, and as an added bonus, these contrasting plants create a stunning, fragrant summer display of colour and shapes.
Orange and Blue
Create some visual excitement with the glow of orange blooms against the stark contrasting cool, bold tones of blue. These two shades seem like they are almost made for one another. Paired in garden pots, beds or borders, this spectacular colour combination is sure to add interest this summer.
The hot orange funnel-shaped blooms of the Crocosmia Mistral create a fiery contrast paired against flowering grasses, such as the silver-blue foliage from the superb evergreen Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’ that blooms giant spiked flowers during the summer. This perfect pair is ideal for containers and borders for an attractive combined display.
The beautiful blue hue in the flower clusters of the Campanula Glomerata Superba create a stunning stark contrast against the bright orange ruffled blooms of this perennial companion, Hemerocallis Apricot Beauty. These stunning flowers will continue to flower all through the summer months for a beautiful and reliable summer bed pairing.
Dahlias look fabulous on their own or combined with other plants and Agapanthus are an excellent vertical choice for brightening up the backgrounds of Dahlias. Dahlia Ludwig Helfert produces spiky orange blooms that provide a dramatic burst of contrasting colour alongside the dark blue flowers and glossy black stems of the Agapanthus Back In Black. This vibrant pairing would make an amazing additions to the summer border.
Yellow and Purple
The bright cheery shades of yellow flowers juxtaposed against bold and rich purple blooms make a beautiful colour contrast that excite the senses when you gaze out in to your gorgeous summer garden. Here are some of our favourite combinations that we’ve picked out for you.
Lavender has very specific growing requirements that would need to share its space with a plant with similar needs, of which one is Echinacea. They both perform well in full sun and in less-than-rich soil. On top of being great growing companions, the vibrant yellow blooms of Echinacea Golden Skipper against the Lavender Little Lady‘s traditional purple blossoms will produce a striking and fragrant display.
When choosing plant companions, it is best to choose ones that have similar cultural requirements. Shade-tolerant annuals can be massed together to create a bed of rich flowers in front of Hydrangeas. For pairing with the luscious purple-blue clustered blooms of our Hydrangea Zaza, our creamy yellow Foxglove (Digitalis Hardy Ambigua Yellow) grows gorgeous tall stalks lined with bell-shaped flowers which together are certain to create a gorgeous contrasting mass of floral shapes and form.
The amber-yellow funnel shaped flowers of the Crocosmia Sunglow are ideal for planting in bold swathes along summer borders, and when accompanied with the stunning and delicate purple blooms of Geranium Birch Double as a low flowering addition, these two create an ideal companionship in the garden.
Matching the colours of two or more flowers, while varying their shapes, is another way to guarantee a winning combination.
The pink hues of the coneflower and the phlox are closely identical, but their flower structure offer a striking contrast. Echinacea After Midnight‘s single blossoms are reminiscent of coarse daisies, while the lush, pyramidal clusters of Phlox Paniculata Pink‘s florets add an imposingly beautiful contrast of shape combination.
The soft lavender hues of the Verbena Samira Lavender Star matches beautifully with the dainty spikes of flowers in the Hosta Fire and Ice. The identical floral tones are set apart by their drastically different shapes and sizes. The beautiful Verbena flowers planted around this Hosta variety in the border would make an enchanting yet bold statement in the border.
Siberian Iris grown in clumps can create a beautiful contrast with Day lilies like our Hemerocallis Fragrant Returns. The stunning trumpet-like blooms of the Hemerocallis offset against the demure, drooping petals of the Iris Sibirica Butter and Sugar. These beautiful plants when paired together in summer borders are guaranteed to bring the sunshine to your garden with their unique shapes and cheerful, pale yellow blooms.
Roses are a much loved addition to the garden and are guaranteed to add that classic, often times rustic feel to the summer. Few shrubs/plants will add the elegance and beauty to the British garden quite like these classic beauties.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know about how to plant Roses from choosing which variety is for you, to getting them in the ground and on-going maintenance.
Hybrid Tea (HT) Roses – Prolific flowering, scented well-formed blooms, these classic and popular roses are prized for their distinctive colour and shape.
Floribunda Roses– Produces in clusters these really give you more roses for your money! Great bedding plants and good in the vase, the blooms are open and less of a classic rose shape than the HT varieties but they do have a real charm that’s all their own.
Climbing Roses – Ideal for potting up and growing against a garden wall, fence or trellis, excellent for bringing a fairytale look and a romantic feel to your garden display.
Hedging Roses – When growing a hedge or low screen, Roses may not necessarily be a plant which jumps to mind, but we have been able to source a number of specially selected hedges which produce roses. This is an exciting and novel way of introducing not only a hedge for practical reason, but also something that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Standard Roses – Grafted onto stems of approximately 80cm with three or more strong branches are available to buy now, a fantastic way of adding some impact the summer garden. They are perfect where space is a premium, as these compact beauties can be grown in large pots on the patio.
Miniature Roses – Small but perfectly scaled, growing to just 40-50cm. These beautiful miniature roses are ideal in containers and rockeries where space can be an issue. Despite their small size, miniature roses are extremely hardy.
Cascading Roses– Rose the Fairy form well branched plants smothered in glossy, dark green foliage. They make excellent plants, as once established require little care. They are ideal for adding to summer flower arrangements, flowers are individually small, but form double petals in large clusters giving a big impact.
To plant, dig a hole large enough to take the roots when fully outspread, remembering that the point at which the plant was originally budded should be sufficiently low in the hole to be 2.5cm below the surface of the soil when it is filled in. Distribute the roots evenly round the hole and put in a little fine soil to which has been added a small amount of bone meal.
Fill in a further 5cm of ordinary soil over the roots and tread in firmly. Tread in additional soil firmly at each stage as the hole is filled. Roses must be firmly planted. If they are not the winds of winter will loosen the roots and may cause the newly planted rose to die.
Generally speaking, the depth of holes in which the roses are to be planted will vary between 10-20cm but examination of the plants will show quite clearly the depth to which they were originally planted and this depth should be adhered to provided that it does place the point at which the stock was budded just below the surface of the soil.
How to Prune Roses
Tips for Pruning Bush Roses, Floribunda or Hybrid Tea
Bush Roses should be well pruned in mid-March in Southern England and further north this should be deferred at such a rate that in the North of Scotland it is done in the second week of April.
Floribunda Roses are a little tenderer and should be pruned one week later than the above dates.
Newly planted Hybrid Tea Roses should always be pruned back hard in the spring, provided the roots are firmly established, leaving only three or four eyes per stem, generally leaving about 15-25cm in length. Roses are roughly pruned in the nursery to approximately 35-45cm of stem. If left unpruned they will die back along the stem and perish or produce leggy poor specimens.
Tips for Pruning Climbing Roses
Do not prune for two years after planting and then only sparsely, removing unrequired growing tips. Weak or dead wood should be removed.
Stake well with expandable ties, driving in the stake below the head of the tree. Plant Rose Tree to old soil mark level. Put liberal amounts of planting medium in hole. Prune back well in spring to good bud.
Tips for Pruning Miniature Roses
Miniature versions of Hybrid Tea or Floribunda and should be treated the same, allowing for the difference of scale. Miniature Roses are ideal for borders and rockeries or as pot plants, though they should be in the dry atmosphere of the house only for limited periods. Prune hard after planting.