Offering a complete garden & landscape design service across London, Surrey, Kent and the Southwest, Pollyanna Wilkinson also has a wealth of experience with large scale international projects. This week we sat down with the multi-award winning garden designer as she talked us through her top tips for preparing outside spaces for the changing seasons. Take a look at the film and learn how to nurture a bulb lasagne - perfect for this time of year – plus all the tricks of the trade when it comes to cultivating a flourishing window box.
Seeking even more green-fingered inspiration as we roll into the colder months? Read on to discover Polly’s checklist of tasks worth actioning in the garden this autumn…
- 1. How can we reap the rewards of our Spring/Summer work in the garden?
Now is a great time to take cuttings and also to divide and replant congested perennials – it’s a rather satisfying way of increasing your plant stock for free! Gathering seed from your favourite plants is also worth doing now; just store them somewhere cool and dry. You can even start sowing hardy annuals now (Papaver rhoeas, Papaver somniferum, and Scabious, for example) to benefit from earlier flowers next year.
- 2. What are your top tips for preparing a garden for autumn and winter?
Focus your attention on planting spring bulbs. Planting them now (wait until November for Tulips) will mean that you can enjoy a riot of colour next year, from early snowdrops in January - to Crocus, Iris and Daffodils in February and March - and gorgeous Tulips and Alliums in April and May. It’s such an easy way to add seasonal interest to pots and borders. As the growing season slows, resist the urge to chop the heads off all the spent flowers. As autumn approaches, I start to leave the seed heads on most of my plants so they can offer winter interest in the garden, as well as a source of food for the birds.
- 3. For someone who doesn’t have much time, is there a simple way to elevate your garden?
Invest in structural evergreen planting that is going to offer you interest year-round. It’s easy to focus on the flowers that look good in the summer, but let’s face it, we live in the UK, so the garden needs to hold its own during the colder months. I would also advise investing in good quality furniture. Outdoor furniture can make or break even the most fabulous of designs. My third tip would be to declutter: go for larger statement pots, rather than lots of small mismatching ones.
- 4. I’m a novice gardener but want to make the most of my outdoor space. Are there any low maintenance flowers and greenery that are easy to keep on top of?
Ornamental grasses are about as low maintenance as you can get and are a fabulous way of offering season interest in a garden. For evergreens interest, any kind of Taxus (Yew) topiary is a great way of adding structure with very little work, or for a looser form, you could use Pittosporum. When it comes to flowers – Hydrangea paniculata is a brilliant option as it requires very little, apart from a prune once a year and plenty of water in the summer.
- 5. Finally, a gardening top tip that we all need to know?
If you want your garden to look cohesive, plant in clusters of odd numbers, 3,5,7, etc. This gives your planting substance and avoids the single plants ‘spotty look’. Repeat these clusters at intervals around the garden; they will add rhythm and depth to its overall look and feel.