Classic and Contemporary Garden Designs

25Oct, 2017

West Somerton October

There are two types of mistakes made in business; those of action or inaction. The first type involves making a decision that turns out to be (demonstrably) erroneous. A company may decide to buy equipment that is poor quality, hire staff who are underutilised or even acquire a new company that turns out to be weak or a poor fit. The second type of mistake is, conversely, that of inaction ie deciding to do nothing for fear of the consequences (and the risk to the senior person who made the decision). For the majority of companies it the second type of mistake that is easily and most commonly committed. After all, if there is no proof that a bad mistake has been made, who can be blamed? However, although less quantifiable, a poor ‘non decision’ can be just as bad for business as a poor active decision.

As in business, so in life and so therefore in gardening. Many gardeners defer making changes to their gardens, either through procrastination or, most commonly, trepidation; the fear of ‘getting it wrong’. However, unlike so many other walks of life, a mistake in the garden is less far reaching; the consequences can usually be easily remedied and besides, with a little research and planning, most gardens can be improved by the addition of a few well chosen shrubs and/ or hardy perennials.

Fortuitously, for any gardeners wishing to make additions to their gardens, October is the perfect month for planting up new additions. Plants put in the ground in October have time to set a good root system over autumn and winter without expending effort in producing new foliage and, practically speaking, there is less attention required in watering and keeping weed free.

There are a number of highly fragrant shrubs which I recommend every garden should have. For sunny spots, Daphne odorata ‘Aureomarginata’ is wonderful (there are other types available for partial shade), as are Osmanthus sp., Lonicera x purpusii (my personal favourite) and Abelia x grandiflora. Sweet or Christmas box (Sarcococca sp.) is excellent for partial or even deep shade, as is Elaeagnus ebbingei ‘Limelight’.

Other architectural shrubs providing great interest for shade include Mahonia x media, Fatsia japonica (including the variegated ‘Spider’s Web’) and the well known Camellia sp. An extraordinary shrub for full sun is Melianthus major with large, palmate lime green, foliage – a majestic addition for any garden.

A beautiful specimen of Daphne odorata ‘Auremarginata’ during a visit to the winter garden at the Cambridge Botanical Gardens (early spring 2017).

Finally on the subject of planting, do make sure you top feed any new plants with plenty of well rotted manure. Don’t add manure to the hole (as roots will not venture out to find nutrients and the root ball will remain small). Generally adding some top soil or compost to the bottom of the hole is sufficient to give it a good start without it becoming dependent.

For any practical assistance or advice feel free to give me a call (07801 252 972) or email

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