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June

Whats HOT and Whats NOT

We often talk about trends in gardening, but unlike in clothing fashion, they move much more slowly. In fact, I reckon it takes around 10 years for a significant change to happen, and many of these stem (pardon the pun) from just a few sources.

New trends begin with wild ideas from our top designers at flower shows like Chelsea and Hampton Court. These are then picked up by television and other media and slowly trickle down the chain into DIY stores and garden centres where you and I can implement them in our own gardens.

By the time this process has happened, it’s normally a couple of years later when we start to see things change in domestic gardens. Take the ‘Barley Wood blue’ phenomenon for example. This paint colour was used extensively in the 90’s by a popular TV makeover show, and then once available in DIY stores, it was sloshed onto the fences of every ‘trendy’ garden.

Thankfully things are now a little more subtle, with muted tones been the favoured choice (in the main), although I think it is fun to indulge in a few bright colours now and then (like my ‘loganberry’ rendered garden walls at home!).

If you want to be bang on trend this year, then it’s great news, as not too much effort is required. With the opening of the new parkland and gardens surrounding the Olympic stadium setting the trend, you can’t go wrong in 2012 with a few weeds!  No, I’m not kidding, but to be more accurate and fair to the fabulous landscape architects who designed it, weeds are actually just plants growing in the wrong place, so in this instance they are wild flowers (how much nicer do they now sound!)

Native insects love the natural open blooms which wild flowers provide, and they have a very calming element to them for humans too. So if you’re up for a change next summer, and want to be bang on trend, then kill off the grass, rotate the soil and sow yourself a wild flower meadow.

Other news this month:  Pre-Olympic GOLD comes to South Yorkshire

OK, so an award winning garden at a flower show might not have quite the same kudos, but when our very own gardening columnist Lee Bestall won a gold award for his show garden at the Harrogate flower show last month, we went to find out what inspires him.

“The original idea came from a potential client of ours, who asked if we could design her a sheltered area where she could sit in the garden and write. It turned out that the person in question was an author called Lynda Page, which by the way is a great name for an author, (when she came to the show I so wanted her to receive a proposal from a ‘Mr Turner’ and go for the double barrelled Lynda Page-Turner, but that was just fiction in my head!)

Whenever you’re asked to design a garden for a show, you have to submit a brief to the judges and so our brief was to create a low maintenance garden with calm planting which could be changed bi annually. This meant we could be indulgent in our colour choices and in doing so created beautiful ‘rivers’ of colour through the sculpture inspired by books.

Books are a huge part of my life, not only because I love reading them (well, looking at the pictures really!) but also collecting them, I must have over 200 gardening books alone in our front room (which is rather grandly referred to as our library … in our household anyway!). I also had a part time job when I was at uni in a bookshop, so it really felt like the garden was a part of me.

We dressed the space with books and accessories, such as a laptop, rug, chair and dictionary, I wanted the whole garden to be like a snapshot photograph, as if the author had just left her seat and gone to answer the phone, her mug of tea placed by her laptop still steaming.

The build was hard work and there were times when I didn’t think we’d make it to the deadline. We worked for 8 solid days to create the garden, but as the designer the majority of my work was before we started the build and then afterwards in the planting and dressing. We had fantastic contractors on site who worked through the night on one occasion, and I owe a huge thank you to Jon, Chris and Butch from JPH Landscapes, as well as little Jack and most importantly Jon’s dad who kept us in coffees!

We worked tight up to the deadline on the Wednesday of judging, finishing raking the surrounding grass just as the judges were visible on the horizon. There was quite an emotional moment when it was all over when Jon and I looked back at the finished garden with pride. The Cedar clad building visually floated above the black water of the surrounding reflection pool, and the Buxus balls which acted as book ends, punctuated the planting perfectly.

The day of reckoning came and went and it wasn’t until the morning after when we found out the results … “we got a gold mate!” Jon shouted from the garden as I approached the site. I’ve done a few gardens over the years for shows, but this was my first gold medal and what a year to bring it home!

June is also the month in which you know that bedding plants will be safe from frost, so its time to plant up your hanging basket if you haven’t already done so.  Check out this great new product to ensure no more wet feet!