In autumn and winter herbaceous plants will die back above ground. When you cut the dead stems and foliage back is up to you. Traditionally this has been done in autumn – winter. But many gardeners now choose to do this job in late winter – early spring, just before everything comes back to life in the garden. If the dead stems and flower heads start to look messy then you may want to cut them back earlier, but there are both aesthetic and practical advantages to leaving them on longer. The old stems tend to protect the dormant crown (from which the plant will re-grow the following season) from damp and frost. Also, some perennials with a strong structure and architectural form, actually look good even when the stems are dead, offering visual interest in the winter months.
Garden lighting is becoming increasingly popular for good reason. Not only are there the safety and the practical elements of lighting certain level changes and deterring any would-be intruders, but subtle garden lighting will instantly enhance the look of your garden, turning it into a magical place on those balmy summer evenings.
Garden lighting however, is not only an element for the summer and is just as valuable to help ease the winter garden through those tricky dormant months. During the week we often lose our gardens as we leave and return home when it’s dark outside and we are faced with a shiny black window and more likely than not a reflection of ourselves. The garden completely disappears for nearly half the year. What a huge waste! The addition of simple lighting can extend the way the garden is used, viewed and appreciated, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are many who are concerned about garden lighting and light pollution, but obviously any lights should be low wattage bulbs and not left on all night.
Some of the low voltage products can be installed DIY simply enough, but as soon as any real electrics are concerned a professional electrician is essential. With them you can ‘uplight’, ‘downlight’, ‘backlight’, or throw a shadow of a plant onto a wall, which adds movement in a light breeze.
This is great stuff. It usually comes in 6 metre flexible lengths and is available in a variety of colours, but I’d be inclined to stick to white as the novelty of crazy lighting colours quickly fades. You can wrap it round tree trunks, pin it to walls or use it in a more linear fashion such as on the back lip of a raised planter or inside of a pot to create some really stunning effects. They are great value for money, but you’ll need a waterproof outdoor socket installed to plug into.
These take in the suns rays during the day (yes, even in the winter) and then light up in the evening giving off a subtle (err sometimes too subtle if you ask me- ambient light). They won’t last the whole night and aren’t powerful enough to read a book by, but are great for lighting a path or edge of some paving
Of course there are safety considerations if there are children around, and candles aren’t great in the wet, but they are the simplest and cheapest of all garden lighting. The flickering light that candles give off is unique and brighter than you may think. There are loads of fabulous candle holders designed specifically for garden uses that can be permanently fixed to walls, placed on dining tables or which come with a shepherds crook to be placed into planting or lawn areas. The cheapest solution A bag of 50 tea lights placed in some plastic cups to stop them blowing out will do the job.
Having a well designed garden offers home owners a number of key benefits. These benefits divide into two areas: personal satisfaction and financial gain.
In terms of personal satisfaction, a well designed garden gives you and your family a place where you can play and relax. It can give you something to pamper and cherish. There’s no better way to start the day than with a little gentle pottering in the garden. A well designed garden can also give you a place to entertain friends, to enjoy food and drink. In many ways it becomes an extra room in the home that everyone can enjoy.
A well designed garden also brings financial benefits. It will add considerable value to your home. According to research undertaken by Flymo, a well-maintained garden that could add up to £30,000 for the average home.
What’s great about having an attractive garden is that you feel the benefits whether you’re are staying put or moving.
It’s always nice to see the end result of one of our garden design projects and compare the garden to how it looked before we went to work. This garden in London is a great example. The owners were faced with what was nothing more than a large patch of grass – and in some areas just parched earth.
In the before and after shot above, you can see how we worked with what was available to bring all the benefits of a modular garden into this home. The garden has become an extra room in the house, a place for entertainment and relaxation, and something to be proud of. No doubt our work has also increased the value of this property – one of the many benefits of having a well planned garden.
We thought it looked great, but the owner was overwhelmed: “To say we were totally and utterly overwhelmed by the finished results would be an understatement… It has been an absolute pleasure dealing with everybody associated with Modular Garden.”
Modular Garden is one of the UK’s leading garden designers.
Watch this space for ideas, hints, tips and the inside track from one of the UK’s most awarded garden design and creation teams.