Decoration, Garden Design, Garden Furniture, Gardening, Geoff Stonebanks, How To, Planters, Plants

My multi-award winning garden, Driftwood, is located by the sea in Sussex, on the coast between Brighton and Eastbourne. Over the years it has seen 14500 visitors and raised £76000 for charity. Last year it featured on BBC Gardener’s World and was a finalist in Gardeners’ World Magazine, Garden of the Year Competition too. Every year it is a challenge to create a variety of garden rooms that looks a little different, so the many returning visitors see something new and fresh. In order to create a flexible and fairly easy to change garden, I’ve always used terracotta containers of all sizes. I’ve probably got a collection of over 150 now. I’ve never been keen on plastic ones, they just don’t look at home in the garden, whatever the colour. OK I hear you say, the advantage is that they are not as heavy as the real thing, but there really has never been any competition for me, despite the weight! Now roll on the years, I’m 64 this month and I’ve been forced to reconsider how I create a different look in the garden this year. I’ve been using a trolley in recently to move containers around , but even that has started to get more difficult, especially in a garden on a slope with several steps to negotiate.

driftwood garden

So, this year I decided I needed to try and ease the burden, by investigating some lightweight pots that still looked like terracotta. The obvious place to check on line was Primrose, as they seem to stock everything anyone could need for the garden, and I have purchased quite a few things from them over the years. 

Two areas of the garden that rely very heavily on the use of containers, are these central steps in the garden and the patio area at the back of the house, which resembles a wall of plants on either side, like corridor of plants!

On investigation, I found what looked like the perfect solution! The fibre clay containers seemed to fit the bill perfectly for the steps, as I needed to find ones that were the right size to sit perfectly on the brick steps. They look absolutely at home, even before they have been filled with annuals for the summer season. These containers are all 30 cm tall and will work well, creating the waterfall effect I need to achieve. Look at last years results to see what I aim to create.

Fibrecotta Troughs

On the other hand, at the back of the house, one of the features I had within the wall of flowers was an old Victorian wooden cart which sat under a large potted camellia. On moving it to tidy up last month, it disintegrated and I’m left with the 2 axles and a side panel. I therefore needed to fill a large space, so two fibre clay containers, the tall one 64 cm tall and the lower one 37 cm tall. They look amazing in the space already . Granted, these are so big they will probably never be moved but all the others are perfect for ease of movement each year as needed. I also needed 3 troughs to sit on tiered shelving as part of this area of the garden. The 3 from Primrose fitted perfectly, which will also make life a lot easier. Just imagine how they will look when we open the garden gate to our first visitors on the 11th June. The garden is open 14 times for public days this year but also by arrangement from 1st June until 3rd September. If you live around Sussex, or are planning holidaying in the area this year, why not come and visit the garden yourselves. Full details can be found at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk 

Look out for the next blog this Summer, so you can see what the containers look like when our visitors view them in the Summer.

Geoff StonebanksGeoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden, Driftwood, he has raised over £76,000 for various charities in 7 years, £40,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners’ World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also the National Garden Scheme’s Social Media & Publicity Chair as well as an Assistant County Organiser & Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex.

Gardening, Geoff, Grow Your Own, How To, Infographics, Planters, Planting

Container planting is one of the most enduring forms of gardening. It offers the flexibility to adapt to any size of outdoor (or indoor) space you have, is simple enough for beginners, and is perfect for many decorative and edible plants.

So to celebrate, we’re publishing a series of infographics – simple step-by-step guides to get you into container gardening. We’re kicking off with the essential tips: how to plant in pots. And don’t forget, we offer all the pots and planters you’ll need to get growing!

How to plant in pots infographic

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Next up in the Complete Guide to Container Gardening is Part 2: How to Repot a Plant.

GeoffGeoff works within the Primrose marketing team, primarily on anything related to graphics and design.

He loves to keep up with the latest in music, film and technology whilst also creating his own original art and his ideal afternoon would be lounging in a sunny garden surrounded by good food, drink and company provided there is a football nearby.

While not an expert, his previous job involved landscaping so he’s got some limited experience when gardening.

See all of Geoff’s posts.

Garden Design, Garden Screening, George, How To, Sail Shades

If you live in a city or terraced house, you know how difficult it can be to relax in your garden without the feeling you’re being overlooked by neighbouring windows or passers by. With summer fast approaching, now’s the time to prepare your outdoor space so that you can make the most of it without the fear of prying eyes. We’ve put together a list of garden privacy ideas that you can easily try out at home to stop your garden being overlooked – without compromising on the natural aesthetics and your outdoor designs.

Garden Privacy Screen

1. Garden privacy screens

Garden screening is a simple, quick and attractive way to shield off part of your garden. It’s great for terraced houses with low fences or wire dividers between gardens. Choose the type of screening that suits your taste – bamboo, willow or artificial to name a few – and attach it to an existing fence or trellis for a privacy boost. Creating a beautiful enclosed area to relax in has never been so easy!

 

 2. Hanging sail shadesSail Shade

Of course, often you won’t be exposed necessarily by the fences in your garden, but by overlooking windows from the houses next door. This is especially common in city streets, where the houses are packed so tightly together that it’s hard to find somewhere to sit in your garden where you don’t feel watched. Hoisting up a sail shade or two over you patio is an ingenious solution. The best part is you can easily just put them up for the summer months, when you want to sit outside under a little shelter from the sun – and any prying eyes.

 

Living Wall

3. Living wall

It’s a classic solution but one of the best: put up a border of trellis and allow some climbing plants to grow up it. This will create an attractive, organic barrier between you and any gaps where people can peep through into your garden. If you’re overlooked by any upstairs windows, then combining the trellis with a pergola over your patio, decking or seating area will give you a perfect private enclave once the plants have grown across. Clematis or ivy are good climbing vines to choose.

 

Hedge

4. Privacy planting

If you need a free standing barrier to shield off part of your patio, try making a wall out of tall planters. Choose any such pots in the style you like and fill them with big plants or trees for maximum shelter. Growing your own screening is another age old solution to the problem of being overlooked. Add height to your fences with an additional border of fast growing hedges like the evergreen yew. Or for an alternative that lets in a bit more light, plant some bamboo. Of course, bamboo can often spread out of control but clumping varieties are known for being more contained, or just plant the bamboo in containers.

 

Water Feature

5. Sound barriers

In the modern age of urban living, we are often so crammed that when you’re outside in the garden you end up hearing every word from your neighbours – and knowing they can hear you too. A great way to create some psychological shelter is by using a water fountain or two so the sound of their running water will mask your conversation as well as the noises from next door.

Let us know if you have any more suggestions for making your garden more private and we hope you find these tips helpful!

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Gardening, Gardening Year, Greenhouses, Grow Your Own, How To, Kim Stoddart, Planting

I keep hearing what a harsh winter we’re going to have this year. It’s even been dubbed Freezageddon by some commentators, which is a little dramatic if you ask me. None-the-less, whether it is going to be the coldest winter in 50 years, or indeed just ….cold, having a greenhouse or polytunnel in which to grow over winter is very handy indeed.

For a start, even when there’s thick snow on the ground all around, you’ll still be able to dig out (and pick) some of your vegetables from inside. For a badly behaved gardener like me who loves gardening and doesn’t like having to wait till spring to get active again, I couldn’t imagine doing without.

Cleaning the Polytunnel
Be sure to keep your polytunnel clean over winter

Growing inside enables you to naughtily extend the growing season, carrying on that bit longer and starting earlier in the year. It boosts results from harder-to-grow, warmer climate craving produce no matter where you live and what the seasons throw at us.

Plus on a rainy day (and let’s face it we’ve had a fair few of those recently) you can still happily garden away protected from the elements.

Even the smallest, unheated polytunnel or greenhouse can make all the difference. While extra tricks such as using ground cover to warm the soil, using a cold frame for extra protection and an inside heating system will expand your opportunities even further…

Here are just a few of best things about growing inside:

Earlier planting

Peppers, aubergines and chillies in particular need a longer growing season and the professional growers I know all start them in January/February for a bumper crop.

Tomatoes and cucumbers also benefit from being inside, even the hardier varieties and especially here in West Wales.

Everything in fact can be germinated and planted out just that bit earlier…

Growing more exotic varieties

There is much more room for experimentation and growing a wide range of exotic and rather exciting plants that you might otherwise not have tried. Melons, sweet potatoes and okra are worth trying and more sensitive, heat-loving fruit trees such as cherry, lemon and lime and peach really benefit from being kept inside in pots over winter. Although the citruses will need extra protection if the thermostat does indeed plummet as predicted.

Later planting

If you’ve been a bit slack with some of your planting and maybe missed your usual planting dates, it doesn’t matter when you grow inside because seedlings will have that bit extra time to catch up. As long as it’s not too late and the plant has established itself (before the shortest days) it will remain intact (and fresh) for a lot longer than during the summer months. Some of the best for lazier, later planting include spinach, rainbow chard, winter salad leaves and cress which all shoot up quickly given half the chance.

So don’t fear the weather doom-mongers. Yes, they could be right but come rain, hail, snow… whatever climatic conditions are thrown at us; with just a little outside protection you can ensure that you and your produce are warm enough inside, which is where it counts.

Kim StoddartKim Stoddart is a gardening writer for the Guardian and blogs at www.getbadlybehaved.com.

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