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St Nicholas house and gardens - Yorkshire’s Hidcote

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Approaching Richmond on the river Swale, with views across to the ruins of 13th century Easby Abbey, nestles historic St Nicholas house, reputedly the oldest house in Richmond. But it was the 20th century history of the gardens which had drawn myself and fellow Society of Garden Designers members to visit it.

St Nicholas is a ‘garden of rooms’ in the Hidcote style and similarly inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement; I was lucky enough to be included in a private tour of the garden earlier this month.

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How to Spruce Up Your Garden - Part 3

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In our final part on the series of designing and implementing a large garden in north Leeds we focus on the front and side gardens.

There is a front pedestrian gate and path mainly used by visitors and the postman! The path was made of crazy paving and was uneven and tired-looking. We realigned it to make a smoother line and laid it with gravel with stone edges in keeping with the stone used elsewhere in the garden, this makes it far more welcoming and gives the house more kerb-appeal.

It splits halfway to gain access to the path around the house, creating an odd-shaped triangular bed. Previously this was filled with two enormous conifers which sucked the light out of the dining room and blocked the view of this unloved space.

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How to Spruce Up Your Garden - Part 2

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This is the second blog post in our short series on the design and implementation of a large garden in North Leeds last year.  Today I am looking at the planting in the rear garden and giving you inspiration for your own outdoor space.

Recycling plants

This garden had quite a few mature shrubs but the weeds were winning the battle, and most had not had a yearly prune, so they had grown lopsided or too dense.  It is always difficult to decide what is worth retaining; mature shrubs not only save money but give a good structure to a newly designed and planted garden, if they have been properly trained and are in the right position to suit the new design. 

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A Word About….Mulching

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Once you’ve improved your border soil, added some beautiful new plants, and stepped back to admire the view, it’s job done – isn’t it? There is one more thing you need to do and that is mulching.

What is a mulch and why should we use it?

A mulch is a topping for the soil. It can be inorganic – such as slate chippings, or organic – such as bark chippings, composted straw or garden compost from your compost bin or your garden centre. You will find that mulching helps set off your new plants to their best advantage, as well as reducing dirt splashing onto their leaves.

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It’s snowdrop time!

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Snowdrops are the showstoppers of late winter.  As their elegant green spikes push up through the frost and snow, you can sense life returning where all has seemed barren.   Many of us grow a few in our own gardens, where they look lovely grown scattered around the bole of a tree, naturalising in the grass, or just in a border or tub. 

Gardens around the country also open specially from February so that people can enjoy the experience of walking amongst drifts of snowdrops, like a light snowfall on the grass.  The lovely display is over within the month - but, if you live north of Birmingham, the good news is you’re still in time to enjoy a snowdrop walk!

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I Love Clematis

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Five reasons why you should grow these amazing climbing plants

Clematis are a large and versatile flowering plant group.  Most of them are climbing plants, which naturally twine around twigs, trellis or other plants to grow up towards the sun.  They are great for adding flowering fun to boring fences or growing up an obelisk or pergola to give height in the garden.  A few spread along the ground instead and make lovely long-flowering ground cover.  I have around 20 clematis growing in my garden – and can always find room for more!  Here's why:

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How to Spruce Up Your Garden - Part 1

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So a new year, possibly a new garden……  In this blog I am writing about the development of a major garden project we designed and installed last year in north Leeds.  It is the first in a series I am writing showing how we design and implement our gardens. 

I’m also going to give you some tips on how you can improve your own garden.

We were approached in March and asked if we could design the large front and rear garden surrounding a substantial house.

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