From a Rose by Any Other Name, to Venetian Voluptuousness

Whilst for many, March is that time in the garden when the popping up of the first Iris reticulatas, daffs and Primula vulgaris, signifies a sure, but slow return to growth and renewal; for us here at OBAB, March has been an incredibly productive period of fervent garden design; with our trademark of designing hardscapes with relaxed naturalness, and planting plans with a rich canvas.

We love the way that each season, brings with it a new palette of inspiration. For one of the designs we are currently working on, the brief has been to use what we are calling, a Venetian palette: deep clarets and mulberries giving way to saffrons and browns. We are dreaming of a lovely a combo of: Echinacea purpurea ‘Fatal attraction’ combined with Helenium waldtraut. A mix of Penstemon garnets and Persicaria amplexicaulis. Iris germanica ‘Kent Pride & Euphorbia griffithii fireglow. All foiled by the intriguing, Heuchera marmalade.

For another client, it’s all about bright, vibrant colours, almost akin to a plate of tropical fruit salad! Yet for a large shrubbery we are designing, surrounded by a hardscape of beautiful ethically sourced UK larch, it’s been all about a gentle purple and white.

Whatever hue of plant colours are inspiring you, make sure your plant selections offer as much year round nectar for wildlife as possible.  An example of this can be seen in roses:  The trouble with roses with big double blooms is that they are of no use to insects at all. Given the worrying shortage of pollinating insects around, we should all be growing bee-friendly roses. All those extra double petals invariably take the place of the flowers’ reproductive parts and without stamens and stigmas there’s no pollen or nectar for bees and other insects. Instead, go for a lovely single-flowered rose such as the field rose, Rosa arvensis, or dog rose, Rosa canina, which are fantastic for pollinators as well as looking really beautiful. Single flowered cultivars like ‘Kew Gardens’ and ‘Rambling Rector’ are also good. The foilage of varieties, ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ and ‘Golden Showers’ may also be used by leafcutter bees to line their nests.

Very much at the forefront of our mind this month is the launch of our campaign to green up London’s front gardens: one paving stone at a time. Did you know that 1 in 3 of London’s front gardens are paved over? A very worrying statistic that we can all do something about. To find out what you can do, go to:

Talking about paving and porosity, watch out later this month for more news on some of our landscape and hardscape designs. We believe that pathways can be simply be a space left between plants; we love meandering hopskotch paths edge with scented thyme. We create softscapes from ethical hardcore designed to provide the perfect outdoor eating and wildlife observing areas!

Our gardens and designed spaces increasingly constitute a significant part of London’s remaining green spaces. As more natural habitats are destroyed around us, never before has the value of our own spaces, whether a one metre square front patch, or a huge back garden, been of greater importance to cultivate. Let’s design and plant away, to increase biodiversity, and share with our beneficial wildlife friends!

Happy spring equinox!

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