Helen Dillon, the world renowned gardener, provides some top-notch advice and tips.
- Be generous with space you allow for a paved or decked living area. Allow yourself a few very large containers. Organise a tap to be installed very near the containers.
- In our garden there are two large gravelled areas. They demand practically no work. Gravelwith small stones is nice and quiet to walk on. Larger stones, despite being better burglar alarms, make for uncomfortable walking, like a beach where the pebbles are too big. Remember, though, that gravel doesn’t work on a slope: you have to level it and build low retaining walls to form a series of terraces.
- Only growing small plants because you have a small space isn’t a valid rule. Buy some great grasses –
– the giant reed (Arundo donax, 3m/10ft),
– Miscanthus sinensis ‘Cosmopolitan’ (1.8m/6ft) or
– M. sacchariflorus (1.5m/ft), or a big bamboo.
Bamboos are cliche plants but terrific value for presence and screening.
- I adore Melianthus major (2.5m/8ft) for its super-sized, sculpted, pale blue big leave. I’d plant pink and white Japanese anemones (Anemone x hybrida, 1.5m/5ft) in the shade and lots of rosemary (excellent tolerator of neglect) in the sun. Lavenders, perovskias, yuccas, erodiums, euphorbias, catmints, thymes and origanums are all lovely easy plants for sun. Shrubs I’d include would be the Mexican orange (Choisya ternata, 2m/7ft) and any form of Rosa rugosa (1.2m/4ft), the toughest of roses.
- You will have to rake the gravel occasionally. Some plants will need cutting back once a year. You might have to wave the secateurs at the lavenders and thymes. But even if you do nothing, your place outside will be wonderful, a place to sniff the air and watch the bumblebees go by.
For more hints, tips and advice on creating and maintaining a gorgeous garden, buy Helen Dillon’s Garden Book (Frances Lincoln Ltd).
Source: House & Home Magazine