Westbury Garden Rooms, a builder of beautiful custom conservatories and orangeries in the U.K., offers GV readers some spring planting advice.
Now that spring is here, it’s time to start planning for planting. Although early in the season with the chance of more frost, there are still plenty of tasks that can be carried out in the garden. If you spend a lot of your time in rooms at the back of your house, or have a glazed extension like a sunroom offering views of your garden, it’s important to keep it in tip-top shape all year round and ready to bloom come he warmer months.
Prepare and Repair
Spring is a good time to clear out leaves and debris from the garden, and cut back any dead branches or overgrown plant material to prepare for new plantings. Turn the soil if you can and put down a layer of compost around shrubs and vegetable and flower beds to enrich the soil. If you have a greenhouse, clean it thoroughly inside and out—it’s best to disinfect the interior to get rid of any dormant pests. Also, don’t forget to clean seed trays, pots and garden tools and equipment.
Since the worst weather is probably behind us, it’s also a good time to make any repairs to any tools or garden structures that require a bit of TLC. Add greenery by planting some climbing plants as the base of fences and trellises (if there’s nothing there already). In addition, there are many thorny climbers which can double as deterrents to intruders, such as Chaenomeles speciosa, Colletia paradoxa and climbing roses, to name a few. Although it takes some patience for plants to mature, all of these do double duty by providing an element of security while producing lovely scented flowers when in bloom.
If, on the other hand, you are lucky enough to have a large garden with a nice lawn and room for planting borders, then there is a lot that can be done in terms of design and with a broader variety of plants and flower types. Use plantings of different heights to create visually appealing views, with smaller (usually flowering varieties) in the front near the border and taller plants overlooking them from behind. Grasses are good choices for tall plants, since there are many varieties available that can thrive in a wide range of climates and growing conditions. Whatever you plant, be sure to take into account where the sun falls and for how long in your garden and to plan planting accordingly.
If you have a modest size garden, planting in raised beds, window boxes and containers are great ways of maximize space and introducing plants where there is very little space. Almost anything fits the bill. Herbs are a popular choice, doubling as aesthetically pleasing and useful for cooking. In terms of flowers, Nasturtians, Busy Lizzies, Chrysanthemums and Snapdragons are all popular choices thanks to the colors they provide. For greenery, climbers and ramblers are also good in these types of spaces.
For summer blooms, it’s best to start planning now. While many summer flowers are best planted in April, hardy flowering plants and perennials can be planted in borders now as they can take the unpredictable weather that late March and early April can bring. Wildflower seed mixtures are also a good choice since they add lots of color and encourage visits from pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Around the house and garden room, small plants are best since they don’t have extensive root systems. Colorful flowers and small shrubs tend to visually soften the hard edges of wood framing and brickwork, giving a punch of color to neutral areas. In sunny spaces, flowers such as Dahlias, Gladiolus and Tulips work well, as well as shrubs like Buddleja, Hibiscus and Lilac. For shady areas, Foxglove, Begonias and Primula are attractive, but borders of Crocus’, Snowdrops and Hyacinths will flower most of the year, serving you well in fall, winter and spring, respectively.
Though it’s still chilly outside in many place, one way to bring the summer around early is to use houseplants. They thrive in well-lit, drought-free areas which maintain a fairly constant temperature—sunny perches near windows or garden rooms are perfect spots. Planting up pots for your interior will bring color and fragrance indoor and brighten up the space in seasons when the garden is still waiting to come to life. It also provides a nice transition into the outdoors, adding a touch of nature to the often rough man-made spaces.
Depending on how long your garden room or interior space gets full sunlight, there are different options available for indoor planting. Miniature citrus trees are a great traditional planting option for the indoors, sunrooms and conservatories, since they not only bear edible fruit but also provide color and act as great conversation pieces. Flowers are more sensitive to the amount of light they receive so their placement in the room is important if you want to get the best results. Examples include:
- On a very sunny windowsill: cacti, geraniums and gerbera
- Sun, but not direct sunlight: ferns, orchids and hydrangea
- Early or late sun: begonia, gardenia and solanum
It’s clear that there are almost limitless options for planting, from decorative flowers to structural plants and those planted with a purpose in mind, like thorny climbers. The main consideration is what you want to see when you look outside and while you are enjoying the great outdoors.
Of course, your specific property type, layout and personal preferences will ultimately determine the types of plants that you use. Just be sure to plan carefully and to design with the whole garden in mind.
So, what are you waiting for. It’s time to get prepping, planning and planting so you’ll have a beautiful view from every angle all year round.
For more information
Westbury Garden Rooms, which was founded over 25 years ago by Jonathan Hey, has developed an impressive reputation across the UK for designing high-quality bespoke garden rooms, orangeries, pool houses and roof lanterns.
Special thanks to Paul Baines, garden design adviser to Westbury Garden Rooms’ clients.