Time to garden
Time to garden

If you want to breathe new life into your outdoor space this year, take a look at some top garden trends.

 

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Jeremy Salt has rubbed shoulders with the stars at prestigious gardening events around the country. The leading landscaper has been pushing the boundaries of garden design for more than 25 years, and it’s no surprise Jeremy and his team at Henley Salt Landscape in Kent and Surrey have a raft of RHS medals under their belt.

The company make regular appearances at the Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace Flower Shows and clients include the BBC, the Daily Mail and the RSPB.

So when we asked Jeremy to reveal his top garden trends for the coming year, it wasn’t hard to sit up and pay attention.

The Good Life

If you watch Jamie Oliver, or any of the modern day chef’s cookery shows, you will have noticed growing your own harvest is de rigueur at the moment. “Growing your own vegetables has become very fashionable,” says Jeremy, and it’s not just those with big gardens or allotments following the trend. “I’ve seen people living in flats in London using apple crates in their kitchen or on their terrace to grow their favourite veg.”

If creating your own patch is too daunting, you can always start by growing your own herbs. A box filled with basil, coriander, chives and dill will brighten your kitchen or garden and keep mealtimes fresh and delicious.

Back to the 70s

Seventies nostalgia has infiltrated our interiors. But it’s creeping into the garden too. “One of the biggest surprises to garden designers is the reintroduction of prostrate conifers and laurel hedges that were popular in the 1970s but out of favour 15 years ago,” says Jeremy.

“Ugly, semi-mature planting and tropical plants are definitely out. People are maintenance-orientated and want gardens that will settle easily and look good all year round.”

Laurel hedges are evergreen and can easily grow up to 6ft in every direction. To shape, prune in early spring, remove all leaves and branches that didn’t survive the winter, and give your laurel plenty of water.

Paving The Way

As a nation, we’re becoming savvier in our material choices. Paving has taken a leap from synthetic stone, which can be hugely expensive, to natural stones from across the globe. “There are many companies that now specialise in finding natural stone from countries such as China, India and Brazil. Demand is definitely on the increase,” says Jeremy. “Features such as flame textures, bush hammered and sand blasting can change the texture and surface of the stone for both safety and aesthetical purposes.”

Stone can make for a striking patio or eating area and is hard-wearing so should last for many years.

Keeping it child-friendly

If you have young children or grandchildren, there are practical measures you can take to make sure your garden is safe, but still looks good.

Rubber surfacing is a great alternative to concrete or stone paving. “I’ve used rubber surfacing in many of my designs as well as for swimming pool surrounds, paving and in playgrounds,” says Jeremy. “It not only looks good but gives peace of mind that children can play safely without falling and hurting themselves on a hard surface.”

Plant selection is also important when designing a child-friendly garden. “Make sure you do your research or seek advice from a professional to avoid choosing plants that may be poisonous or harmful to youngsters.”

Go Local

Customers are now more aware of the importance of hiring local tradesmen and businesses are rewarding their loyalty with discounts for those in a short-mile radius. “Henley Salt Landscapes, like a lot of other businesses, are now marketing themselves towards people within a 20-mile radius, rather than driving a long way for the same job. This saves both time and money, and helps towards an efficient service that’s more environmentally friendly.”

Barking Mad

When it comes to creating a garden that’s suitable for a pet dog it’s also important to select a good designer. “Having a dog doesn’t mean you have to be unadventurous in your garden design,” says Jeremy. “A designer will know exactly what plants a dog likes to dig up or where it’s likely to lay down for a sleep. There are many stylish solutions that mean you don’t have to opt for screening a massive area. It’s fundamental to do your research, find the best materials and get it installed correctly.”

It’s also important to be cautious with your plant selection. Plants like ivy are poisonous for your pet pooch.

Decking

Ground Force showcased decking to the British public in the late nineties and inspired many of us to jump on board – literally! Since then, it has become a garden essential and is set to be around for many years to come.

But when fitting decking, be sure to call the experts, advises Jeremy. “It’s important to know how weather conditions affect decking and what screws to use to make it stable. The price has remained relatively stable in the past few years but if you want a high quality material with a good finish, be prepared to pay more. Sleepers, timber and ironwood are popular choices. They have a good grip and, when installed in the right place, have the potential to look stunning.”

Your Garden Calendar

Richard Jackson is QVC's resident gardening expert and presenter. He reveals his hot tips for tending to your garden from January through to June.

January

Check your winter pots and baskets regularly to see if they need watering. They can dry out surprisingly quickly in windy weather.

Freezing temperatures may have caused recently planted bedding like pansies and wallflowers to lift slightly from the soil. Gently firm them back into the ground. Watch for slugs eating young shoots of tulips, delphiniums and lilies. Either spread a layer of grit around the plants or protect them with a sprinkling of slug pellets.

February

Bring bags of compost indoors so it can warm slightly before using it for sowing seeds or potting seedlings and plug plants.

Prune any side shoots on wisteria to 5cm/2in from the main stem. This will tidy the plant but, more importantly, help it produce more flowers in May. Overgrown clumps of snowdrops should be dug up once they’ve finished flowering. Tease apart into small clusters and re-plant at 15cm/6in spacing, using fresh compost.

March

Give pansies, primulas and other spring bedding plants a feed with high potash fertilizer. This will help them put on a better display.

Make sure next year’s daffodils are as good as this year’s. Take off dead flowers and feed them once a week. Don’t tie up or remove leaves for at least six weeks after flowering.

After you finish spring pruning your roses, mulch with compost, bark or well-rotted manure. For an extra boost, feed with rose fertiliser.

April

For an early crop of strawberries, buy young plants from the garden centre, pot them into 15cm/6in containers and pop them on a windowsill.

Sort bare patches in the lawn by using a hand fork to loosen the soil. Sprinkle on fresh grass seed and cover with compost. Keep it well watered and the new grass should appear within the fortnight.

Stake tall-growing plants like delphiniums while still young. The plants will quickly cover the stake so very soon you’ll never know it’s there. Use plant spirals rather than bamboo canes for a natural look.

May

It should be safe to plant tender bedding including geraniums and fuchsias in all but the colder parts of the country this month.

Compost heaps can get swamped with grass clippings during the summer and often go stodgy and smelly. To stop this, add layers of shredded or scrunched up newspaper when emptying the grass onto the heap. Keep sweet peas well watered or the buds may drop off in dry weather. Once they start blooming, pick regularly to produce even more flowers.

June

For a bumper crop of tomatoes, start feeding them with flower power as soon as the first fruits begin to form. Don’t let the plants dry out or the fruits may split. Leyland, privet and lonicera hedges can be trimmed back now, and then once more later in the summer. If you’ve a beech or yew hedge, don’t cut it until July. For the best flavoured herbs, pick them early in the day when they’re fresh, not wilting from the summer heat.

 

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