DoOutdoor Living

Spring (garden) shopping by Joanna Archer

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The wonderful garden designer Joanna Archer turned our flowerless urban oasis into a little pice of the countryside in the city – and we love it (even though I am still very much the novice gardener…’Um, is this a weed or what?’). So when C and I met her and her little boy at Kew gardens (not, alas, for a stroll through the greenery, but for babyccinos and gingerbread men followed by frenetic play at Climbers and Creepers) – I pretty much twisted her arm into giving W&W the lowdown on giving your garden a spring makeover.

“It’s a daily ritual now. Nipping outside and peering at the ground longing for SPRING to appear. If you’re an impatient gardener, like me, you might just want some instant ways to bring much needed cheer to your plot. Here are some ideas for your shopping list:

1. Spring flowering plants

Ranunculus sp. [ABOVE] are joyful lollipops of colour, flowering from now to early Summer. Happy in full sun or part shade they look pretty in a pot or at the front of well drained border. I’m obsessed with pink as you will see but they are equally lovely in white, red, orange…

My suggestion is to buy them at London’s most idyllic plant haven Clifton. Or nip to your local B&Q for unbeatable prices (I’ve checked).

For heavenly spring bedding inspiration take a trip to Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. Even the coffee tables are adorned with Spring flowering bulbs (below: white Hyacinth, blue Muscari and magenta Tulips, all available to purchase). Children, husbands etc will be equally enthralled by the sticky orange cake.

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2. Herb garden

If fruit and veg growing seems a bit taxing then start with a great big pot of herbs. I prefer to have a contrasting mix of foliage textures in one container. Pot up using multi-purpose compost, position where they will receive the most sunlight and don’t forget to water.

This collection of six plants can be delivered to your door by Crocus.

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3. Planting for SUMMER

Buying plants can be daunting, so do not be embarrassed to ask advice from the nurserymen in the garden centre. Before you set off, cast a critical eye over your garden and decide on the size, shape and colour of any plants you may need. Then, consider their position (north, south, east or west facing) and if possible your soil type. This will help to avoid any costly mistakes…

If you are an urban dweller, chances are your garden is on the small size so a good rule of thumb is to ensure a third of your plants are evergreen for year-round structure. Remember to choose long-flowering varieties of perennials and shrubs.

A favourite perennial of mine is Verbena bonariensis. These lilac-purple umbels flower utterly reliably from June-September and they won’t fall over despite their towering height. It prefers full sun and moist, well drained soil. You won’t have difficulty finding them at your local garden centre.

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For a full sun/part shade tolerant shrub try a Hydrangea macrophylla. They flower endlessly from June – October and can be used as a cutting flower.  Provided they are kept well watered (clue is in the name) they can stay in a generous sized container or provide structure in a mixed border. They are not all pink! A full sized white variety can really lighten up a shady part of your garden.

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4. Invest in some new P O T S

Firstly, clear out that mish mash of terracotta you have lurking around the garden. Old pots can be broken up and used at the bottom of your new pots to help with drainage. An original pot can bring a sculptural focal point to your garden.

I love the grey stoneware Leeds Pots from Clifton Nurseries and they won’t crack in frosty temperatures.

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For more contemporary shapes try Poterie Goicoechea

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5. Furniture

Discover Fermob . These French masters have come up with a vast array of beautiful designs and colours that suit any style of garden. Barbed is a local distributor, but be warned that lead times can be quite a few weeks, so get your order in now…

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For a cheaper alternative I was genuinely surprised (in a good way) at B&Q’s Moretta, Saba and Flores furniture sets.”

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Thanks so much, Joanns! Now, where are my gardening gloves?…

IMAGES: Joanna’s own, Petersham Nurseries, Clifton Nursery, B&Q

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