softness

softness

I use grasses in my design. I find them relaxing. 

 

These Nassella tenuissima offer a perfect backdrop to the Nepeta x faassenii 'Walker's Low' with its delicate texture. 

The downside of this feathery grass is that it looks rather sad when it rains... who does not? 

 

 

glamour

glamour

I bought this Scilla peruviana during one of my first visits to Beth Chatto Gardens. It was love at first sight. 

Plant single plants in a pot to enjoy them even on a sunny terrace or if you have space, plant them in large groups for breathtaking effect. 

 

invasion

invasion

Visiting Scotland with a friend kind enough to drive me around for almost a week was a real treat. I kept on asking to stop the car... no, it was only to take some photographs!

These two most certainly self-seeded Lupinus polyphyllus looked appealing in the foreground.  Lupins can easily become invasive...  but I bet they put up a pretty spectacular show! 

 

good-nature

good-nature

Footpaths amongst tall, rustling reeds surely offer a wonderful experience and the British conservation organisations are working hard to preserve and promote these astonishing habitats.  But what are reeds and why are so important?

The most common belong to the genus Phragmites (P. australis, syn. P.communis); others include Arundo donax, Phalaris arundinacea, Calamagrostis brachytricha, Typha angustifolia.

Reeds are certainly known for their use in thatching, but that is not all... In fact, reedbeds provide an ideal and often 'unique' support to wildlife and have an incredible value for biodiversity. Reed Warbler, Bearded Tit, Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Starlings and many other migratory birds but also Frogs, Voles, Otters, Water Snakes, Dragonflies, British Swallowtail, White-mantled Wainscot, Red Leopard Moth... all find ideal conditions here. 

Constructed reedbed systems can be used to treat our wastewater on both domestic and commercial scale. Moving through channels created by the roots,  water is filtered through the soil particles; the gas exchanges at root level also release oxygen in the soil where aerobic bacteria can live and metabolise pollutants; reeds even absorb some waste elements directly as nutrients...

Any more? Yes, they can also be used as building materials, woven, burnt as fuel, used as fertiliser, to produce paper and eaten...  

duck-down!

duck-down!

Attracting wildlife in the garden is one of the most gratifying experiences. I love nature and my approach to garden design and gardening always reflect this. 

Water features, hedges, feeders, sheltered spots, piles of logs are all excellent ways of doing so. I love to see birds, bees and butterflies exploring the garden. It is something we have created and it becomes magical with their presence...

Sometimes even our 'not-so-friendly' visitors make their way in, but often simply by choosing the right plants or applying adequate horticultural techniques we can help them find somewhere else to play!

     ...no, I did not think for one second of catapulting slugs into the neighbouring gardens!

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bumblebees

bumblebees

     "According to the Laws of Physics, bumblebees cannot fly. Bumblebees do not know it, and carry on flying." According to the Laws of Physics, men cannot fly too. But we invented the aeroplanes. 

I like to be brave in the garden. Experiment, try different plants combinations, be open to new ideas and push the boundaries... well, better leave those where they are or the neighbour will not be very open-minded... 

 

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white as snow

white as snow

Weeds.

What is a weed? The RHS thought me that 'a weed is a plant growing where it is not wanted'. Why? Sometimes, because "we do not like it there: it spoils the perfect combination we have created. ...but actually over there... yes, that is so much better!"....How many of us has not done it. This is why we are gardeners!

We like to manipulate nature, change it. We hybridise plants that produce flowers so big they cannot stand their own weight. Then we make lovely supports with twisted hazel branches or we buy some beautiful ones. Rusted steel that magically swirl around the stems in such a perfect way that the plant... looks less important!

But we have to face it. Nature does it better: weeds are stronger, healthier and extremely adaptable. You can do whatever you like to them and you can be damn sure they will be right back as soon as you kick your boots off!

Tired and frustrated, I have made an experiment: I have decided that some weeds could grow amongst the planting and... in most cases it worked! Please do not try this at home. 

Plants are wonderful living beings. I like all of them. Small or big, woody or herbaceous, with subtle or showy flowers, species or cultivars... After all, it is not their faults if the flower is too big, too small, or the colour is too bright... 

What matters, in the end, is that we put them in the right place. 

 

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gratification

gratification

Seeing butterflies in the garden we have designed and planted is something exceptionally gratifying. 

With the right choice of plants we can attract specific butterflies to feed on the nectar or we can provide the right conditions for them to lay their eggs and support their entire lifecycle! 

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pure friendship

pure friendship

Lichens are organisms resulting from the symbiotic relationship between a fungus and algae or cyanobacteria. They support each other in a mutualistic relationship where the fungi provides the structure and the algae or cyanobacteria provides sugars from photosynthesis.

As most of us know, pollution is deeply damaging to many lichens. Hence the presence of lichens informs on the quality of the air that we and them are sharing...

The British Lichen Society informs us that gardens offer a number of different habitats that can support a great deal of lichens. 

 

 

 

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teotihuacan, mexico

teotihuacan, mexico

If you visit Teotihuacan, the pyramids are obviously the main attraction... 

But this golden sea of Bouteloua gracilis caught my eyes. 

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home sweet home

home sweet home

Northern Italy.

Baraggia di Candelo, Biella. If you wonder in the heath near my hometown in winter, this is what you are likely to see. I have been so many times to this place, walking for hours with Trixie and I never get tired of it. 

This particular area known as 'Baraggia', might remind of the African savanna but you are not likely to encounter lions or giraffes here.

The soil is the result of fluvial deposits of sand and clay. Acidic and poor in humus, it only allows for pioneer plants to thrive. Heathers, moor-grass, brackens, bramble, silver birch, common oak, hornbeam, elder, hazel are commonly found here.

    "The way in which the vegetation has colonised this land, the resulting patterns of plants of the same species often in large groups and the channels that the meandering streams of water have created, have a strong influence on my planting style". 

 

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