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Winter is often seen as a dull season when there is not much to look at.  Conversely though, it is also a time when you can see those plants that choose to shine at this time of year in much greater detail without the buzz of the summer garden surrounding them.

Winter plants are not as showy as a summer herbaceous border but they make up for it with interesting foliage and often scent. Strong architectural shapes hold frost beautifully and provide interest through this rather bleak season.

Mahonia are stalwart back of the border plants where in summer they provide an architectural green backdrop.  In winter their racemes of yellow flowers shine in the cool light and their lily of the valley scent can be appreciated from several meters away.  Mahonia are large plants and Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ is one of the best, combining well with other plants that will add interest to your winter garden it will be in flower from November to March attracting winter insects and adding to the diversity of your garden.

Other plants to try:

Edgeworthia chrysantha is a much smaller shrub than the Mahonia, growing to about 1.5m in height and spread.  In London it will be fine where temperatures rarely get down to -5 but if you garden in a cold spot plant it in as sheltered position as possible.  Flowering from February to April its pretty cream and yellow flowers are also highly scented.  It would work well with a lower storey of Helleborus x hybridus or an under-planting of spring flowering Crocus.

No winter garden should be complete without a Sarcococca.  There are several different varieties to try all of which prefer some shade and a moist but well drained soil.  Their glossy leaves act as a simple foil to summer colour but in the winter from December to March it is their tiny white flowers that you appreciate, perhaps not for their look as they are quite tiny but for the spicy scent that they produce.  They are often very successful in pots and can be moved outside the backdoor when they are in flower to appreciate the scent at close hand.

For something a little showier then Camellia sasanqua varieties are well worth growing.  Although fully hardy a sheltered spot is preferred to keep the blooms looking perfect.  Harsh east winds and frosts will damage the soft edge of the petals.  As with all Camellia, acidic soil and a site in partial shade is required.  They aren’t the fastest growers in the world but their beautiful compact blooms from October to December are always well worth the wait.  Autumn flowering Cyclamen would be a lovely under-planting.

If flowers aren’t your thing though, then there are a multitude of plants with fabulous winter stems and bark, all of which look beautiful backlit on a crisp sunny day:

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ – as its name suggests a fiery copper set of stems.

Prunus serrula – one of the less blousy Cherries when in bloom this tree makes up for it with shiny dark burgundy bark.

Acer griseum – one of the loveliest of trees with fantastic autumn coloured leaves but also cinnamon coloured peeling bark.

Whatever your choice, with a little planning and the placement of some carefully chosen evergreen shrubs to accentuate your colour scheme, winter need never be boring in the garden.

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Kate often gets asked to write opinion pieces for fabulous magazines. The Gardens illustrated Editor asked Kate this time to talk about her favourite nurseries and specialist plant growers. Kate could have listed twelve off the top of her head but for the purposes of the article could only choose six as the article was shared with three other designers and ideally we could not choose the same. Most of the nurseries are trade nurseries but you can see examples of their work and specimens at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Europlants have a wide variety of specimen plants which are perfect to create wow factor in a garden immediately. Europlants are based in Hatfield in Hertfordshire just north of London. I have been dealing with Europlants for nearly 20 years, they are always incredibly helpful and operate with a family ethos therefore they always make you feel really welcome. They are a trade only nursery but I couldn’t write a list of my favourite places to buy plants without them being on it.

Orchard Dene are an Oxfordshire based grower of perennials. They are a herbaceous nursery who grow plants in a peat free soil. Their P9 plants may come in tiny pots but the amount of vigour they produce is extraordinary. A visit to Orchard Dene always guarantees that you will learn something new every time from passionate growers Chris and Toby Marchont. Orchard Dene are also a trade only nursery but they very often grow fabulous plants for designers at Chelsea.

Todd’s Botanics specialise in drought tolerant herbaceous and architectural type plants and trees which are either grown by them or hand selected from Europe’s specialist suppliers. They are based in Essex and owners Mark and Julie are really lovely and great to deal with. You will usually see their stand exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show but they also supply a number of the show gardens at the show. you can buy online or visit by appointment.

Hare Spring Cottage Plants is run by the absolutely adorable Stella Exley who exudes passion for Camassia’s out of every pore. The nursery specialises in Camassia but has a wide variety of other hardy perennial plants. Stella also holds a National Collection of Camassia as well as growing a range of Sidalcea and Uvularia .It is impossible to place an order with Stella without having an exuberant conversation about plants and a good old fashioned catch up. The nursery has recently moved to North Yorkshire, Stella’s home county. She is a regular exhibitor at Chelsea in the floral marquee and has also supplied her stunning specimens for show gardens in the past. You can order stock online or by appointment, but she does hold regular open days as well.

Jacques Amand has offered flowering bulbs of many varieties to discerning gardeners for over 70 years. They are my local bulb specialist based in Middlesex where I will happily spend several hours filling paper bags with way more bulbs than I need. When they pick orders for me they are always immaculately labelled and packed. Although I visit their nursery infrequently, each Autumn when I do my annual visit they always greet me with a friendly smile. They are both a wholesale and retail nursery. The nursery is running a Spring bulb event in February, with a talk by John Amand and sales of dormant bulbs as well as those about to flower or in flower.

Preston Bissett Nursery– A great retail nursery based in Buckingham, which has a wide range of really well grown perennials, interesting pots and great selection of sundries. You will discover the enormity of the entire selection of plants in dedicated areas, enabling you to create a whole garden in one visit. There are no limitations to choice. Rows of cottage garden plants right through to herbs, fruit, hedging and specimen large trees can be bought from this nursery. Another reason to visit this nursery is the amazing cake! They also run events with a selection of gardening speakers and tutors who come in on a regular basis and offer short workshops and talks.

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We are thrilled to announce we will be building a show garden for The Ascot Spring Garden Show in April 2018. The show will be open from the 13th to 15th of April. The will be held at the prestigious Ascot Racecourse. Six show garden designs will be on display to ignite the public’s passion and ideas for gardening.

The six show gardens have been curated by Andrew Fisher Tomlin. The designers showcasing their gardens at the show with us are Catherine Macdonald, Landform Consultants; Joe Perkins, Longview Design; Pip Probert, Outer Spaces; Richard Holmes and Florian Degroise; and Tom Hill, Tom Hill Garden Design.

The Ascot Spring Garden Festival is a wonderful chance to demonstrate how interesting and appealing gardens can be even at a quiet time of year. The use of architectural and evergreen planting will be showcased allowing visitors to see how inviting and textural a simple green scheme can be combined with the use of furniture and features.

We are really looking forward to facing the challenges that building a garden at this time of year brings, especially as it is being showcased on the prestigious grounds of Ascot.

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Kate and the team are excited to announce that they will be building a garden at RHS Chelsea in 2018. The garden will be called ‘West End Secret Garden’ and sponsored by the Sir Simon Milton Foundation who are being supported by the New West End Company. The countdown begins to another fabulous project!

Description

A modern interpretation of the gardens and architecture of a London square, combining environmentally positive technology as showcased in Bird Street, located just off Oxford Street. A creative modern pocket of green space in the heart of London’s busiest shopping district. A communal garden for use all year round to provide a green oasis in the heart of the West End with positive clean air as well as an energy harvesting technology for residents, workers and visitors to use. The garden is to be a calm space with lightweight trees providing shelter and privacy from the surrounding buildings for those enjoying the space. Colourful low level planting around the perimeter invites you into the garden. Technology is factored into the design to work seamlessly in the space and not to be a token gesture.

The garden is a free standing space with references within and on the boundaries to the architecture surrounding it. This is a small, private corner of a larger space. The vertical boundaries are Ashlar clad which reference the classical architecture of some of the building present in a some of London’s most famous squares. The garden will also feature a sunken space enclosed by vertical green walls which create a relaxing heart to the garden to offset colourful perimeter planting. A classical water feature to help mask city noise. Cutting edge paving with integral energy harvesting and clean air (through a pergola) make this garden innovative. A sculpture can be seen from different angles.

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The inspirational garden created by Kate and her team for the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show is still capturing the imaginations of many and ‘City Living’ has featured in the latest issue of the Ibstock Design Magazine. The link to the online magazine is below.

“City Living’, designed by Kate Gould Gardens, won awards at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. The multi-level installation, which featured materials ranging from light- transmitting concrete to glazed bricks, demonstrates how compact green spaces can be added to existing urban apartment buildings”

“‘City Living’, designed by Kate Gould Gardens, won not only a gold medal but also best in category award at the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The installation comprised a contemporary garden on several levels, as if in a typical urban apartment block. ‘While these dwellings can be cold and slightly forbidding in appearance’, says Kate Gould, ‘they could easily be transformed with the addition of attractive green outdoor spaces for residents use, with comfortable and sheltered seating areas surrounded by appealing planting and tranquil water features’. The garden could be added to existing buildings or incorporated into new builds to ‘green up’ city spaces and provide valuable habitat for wildlife and birds.”

– Design Magazine by Ibstock Brick Autumn 2017

https://www.ibstock.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Design-from-Ibstock-150dpi.pdf

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Kate and the team are proud to now be an accredited BALI designer member. They can now display the letters MBALI after the company name.

Why Choose a BALI member to design your garden?

Kate and the team had to embark on a rigorous process to be granted their member ship status. To be granted Registered Membership, BALI members sign up to a Code of Conduct pledging to carry out their business to the very highest industry standards. This means investing in staff training and skills development, adhering to health and safety regulations, considering the environmental and ethical implications of what they do, and running their operations with honesty and integrity. By choosing a BALI professional to design and build your garden, you can be assured of professional excellence and confident that you will receive outstanding customer service.

The Association’s principal objectives are:

  • To encourage the highest standards of quality, workmanship and service.
  • To support the training of landscape personnel and the recognition of qualifications and competencies.
  • To foster a greater awareness of the landscape industry’s role in the creation of an improved environment.
  • To maintain and improve the standing of the landscape industry by providing its members with a strong collective choice and to publicise the best contributions to that process through the BALI National Landscape Awards presented each year.

To view Kate’s BALI profile – click here on the images below.

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Kate Gould Gardens is absolutely delighted to announce that its 2017 Fresh Garden ‘City Living’ won not only a gold medal but also best in category at the RHS Chelsea Flower show this week.

Speaking from the showground on medals day Kate said “City Living is the most ambitious garden I have ever designed for Chelsea. Without the skill, determination and sheer hard work of the most amazing team we would never have made it. There were moments when I thought we wouldn’t but I shouldn’t have doubted the guys. They are epic and have realised my creation on paper into the most wondrous of creations of which I am so, so proud.  Every time I look at the garden I have to pinch myself that it is actually there and looks if anything far better than it did in my head. Hats off and huge thanks to everyone involved.”

A thought provoking Fresh Garden with a strong environmental message, ‘City Living’ was inspired by Kate’s personal experiences of working in and around London, ‘City Living’ is set on a 12×6 plot and built across three levels featuring a basement, mezzanine and top floor. Following in the footsteps of her 2013 garden ‘The Wasteland’, ‘City Living’ provides greenery to an imagined apartment block where there is very little scope for outdoor green space but where every opportunity, no matter how small, is used to provide useable outdoor spaces for residents whilst also providing much needed wildlife corridors in urban areas.

On the top level is an area shaded by a pergola, the mid levels have occasional seating and there are two secluded seating areas at basement level. The planting used throughout is a mix of hardy tropical shade lovers in the basement area whilst the planting on the upper floors responds to the light levels they would receive in reality.

A regular exhibitor at RHS Chelsea, this is Kate’s fourth gold medal and third ‘Best in category’ having also received this highly coveted award for her 2007 Upstairs Downstairs garden and 2009 Eco Chic garden.

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