Following a project to create a new bed for a client in le Grand Pressigny, we were asked to look at two others within their gardens, these had been created over a period of time since they renovated the property. The brief was to produce more colour throughout the summer.
The two beds included well established shrubs which had initially offered shape, form and a green backdrop. They had outgrown their space (things grow well in the Indre-et-Loire!) we agreed those which were best to stay and those which had to go!
We removed shrubs, then pruned and shaped those staying. The rest of the bed was dug over & enriched - the soil is heavy chalky clay with alot of flint mixed in, this becomes very compacted over time especially when the rain runs straight off the roof onto the bed. Although existing plants don't seem to mind new plants can quickly rot in winter or die of thirst in summer!
We then add our own secret mix of compost...not all that secret really just a labour intensive mix of various organic matter and patience while it changes to a rich dark crumbly stuff :D
The beds were then underplanted with a mixed colour range of tulips, then alliums which will grow through the shrubs before the are at their best.
We then chose a range of perrennial plants which provide a long flowering period and will perform well during hot dry summers and will very likely re-flower during the same year if cut back after first flowering - echinacea purpurea, papaver, penstemon, geraniums, scabious, verbena etc.
We also split and re-planted the clients overcrowded established plants such as iris, geraniums to rejuvenate and encourage them to flower profusely.
By mid November the plants are in place to make the most of the cooler wet months to establish a good roots system. We will return with photo's in Spring 2010 and beyond to see how the plants top growth performs!
Before - sleepy cat, grass up to edge of practical but ugly concrete path along front of longere which is divided into two 2 bedroom holiday rental cottage.
The front of the building offers very little shade in south facing courtyard in summer and the right hand cottage 'Noix' has no other 'private' outdoor space.
The aim is to provide some shade, fragrance, increase feeling of privacy within communal courtyard. Pergola over each entrance with range of clematis/vines to provide shade & flower between April and October.
Strip bed of lavender, underplanted with range of alliums to provide drought tolerant and fairly low maintenance flowering between April and October.
This will provide additional interest with butterflies & bees hovering in the lavender during summer and will provide an excellent morning coffee spot or evening apero/owl watching spot for guests staying in Noix!
Our brief was to provide a new bed next to existing pool - to provide summer long riot of colour, using drought tolerant perrenials - with colour preferences to cool tones, the space (close to pool) is most often used for early evening aperitifs.
Plan - We suggested blocking the right hand opening to the outbuilding as not used for access - this helps provide a better backdrop for climbing plants to continue into corner.
We selected clematis, ceonothus, scabious in cream and blue, ajuga, echinacea white swan and other complementary perennial plants.
We underplanted with muscari and tete a tete dwarf daffodils for early spring colour and tall cream alliums to join the gap between spring and summer.
We included plants which are half-hardy such as cerinthe major and verbena bonsarensis, these perform very well locally and tend to reliably self-seed even if the main plant doesn't survive a hard winter.
We used local stone to edge the bed in keeping with the rest of this gardens existing landscaping.(The stone is dug up with just about each spadeful in these parts.. :S)
All the plants have had a good start this autumn as the mild, wet weather has given the plants a good chance to establish a good root system before we mulch against winter cold (-18 last year and a fweek long foot of snow...).
It is our preference to get plants in the ground in an available warm wet window in autumn to help plants get well established before they experience their first long hot and very possibly dry summer.
As we left the bed at the beginning of November. We will post updated photo's to see how this bed gets on through the coming seasons.
Brief: To restore asparagus & strawberry beds, plant additonal fruit trees and create a croquet lawn!
The potager site (approx 50m x 40m) had been untended for a couple of years so the first step was to strim the 80cm high grass and weeds, and to cut back the boundary 'hedge'.
We had the bonfires to burn the rubbish in places where we will plant the fruit trees to help prepare the soil (additional potash) and kill off the grass and perennial weeds.
(Sorry...no photo's of the before you will just have to believe us :D)
Owing to the exceptionally dry and warm autumn we were able to follow on and cut the grass with a ride-on lawn mower. The areas left are where the asparagus will need hand-weeding and strawberries are being moved from.
The land has a series of long raised ridges of earth sloping dowhill towards the stream which used to grow annual veg.
The rotorvator was used to break up the mounds and prepare the ground where it will be further flattened and prepared, then sown for the croquet lawn in Spring.
The asparagus beds were extended to the full length of the plot to provide an area to move the strawberries to.
We will return in Spring with more photo's..first jobs...transplant a pear tree, plant up strwberries, plant 3 more fruit trees, cut grass, further prepare croquet lawn (15m x 20m) sow seed.