Diggers & Water Gardens

Things have been getting increasingly busy here as our summer projects are being wrapped up and our autumn projects are reaching their peak of activity. We’ve seen Alex and the lads putting the finishing touches to our the pool area at our Dorset Farmhouse project – fabulous to see the ‘instant hedge’ arrive and be planted up to form a mature hornbeam hedge in just a matter of a couple of hours!  But no matter had the lads laid the last bit of turf and planted the last tray of hedging it was off to our town garden project to perform quite the opposite task – destruction time! With diggers revving at the gate first thing on Monday morning, the team were let loose to begin to clear this garden in its entirety, ready to begin what will be a complete and very exciting transformation.

Whilst the groundworks team have been digging and dismantling, Lucy has been in slightly more peaceful settings, paying visits to two excellent water gardens, in advance of our forthcoming water project. Last week, Lucy visited Forde Abbey with the intention of making a beeline for the bog garden to take a look at the planting in this damp and shady area but found herself thoroughly distracted by the incredible grass spiral that was sparkling as the light shone through the seedheads of Hordeum jubatum and caught the petals of the late summer annuals, ingeniously included to bring autumn interest to the spiral. Having drawn herself away from the spiral, past the long herbaceous borders still humming with colour and life, the bog garden did not disappoint. It is always fascinating and incredibly worthwhile to see all these plants which we read about in their actual environment and in a mature state.  The diversity of the bog or marsh type of plants growing in this part of the garden at Forde Abbey provides great opportunity to see how they are placed together, final heights and forms etc. Equally, visiting as the season changes from summer to autumn, is always insightful to see how these plants begin to tail off – do they still look attractive as they get tired or do they begin to embark on an ugly journey of decay?

With many useful answers gathered at Forde Abbey, the next water garden on the list of ‘must sees’ was Longstock Water Park on the Leckford Estate in Hampshire. This 6 acre water garden is always hugely inspiring for large lake projects with plants ranging from marshy groundcover right through to towering Gunneras and Eupatoriums – it is always quite ‘sobering’ to see just how gigantic these plants can be in their right environment and how in all but the largest of settings, they should be used with caution! Super-sized plants aside, there was so much to take home from this trip, the rule of not over doing the number of species used was evident with large swathes of one plant type running along the banks of the lake and, interestingly, very few marginals being used apart from Iris ensata, Zantedeschia and Pontederia – maybe this is where the great Christopher Lloyd was so right in saying:  “Maintaining marginal plantings in good condition can be extremely tiresome”. Certainly worth consideration before leaving our clients with a lifetime legacy of weeding between pond marginals!

As the planting season begins in earnest, planting plans are taking up much of our time as  we work hard at putting plant combinations together, spacing them on scale plans and working with nurseries to source the best plants for our clients. With three very different projects, requiring  a wide range of plant types and styles, we will be needing to keep hard at it to ensure our selected plants have got their roots down in their new homes before the first frosts – best get on with it then!

Job done! The finished pool area at our Dorset Farmhouse project.
And how the very same area looked in March!
As one finishes, another starts - the diggers are in at our latest project...
The inspirational grass spiral at Forde Abbey
Never stop learning - a thoroughly insightful trip to Longstock Water Gardens