Winter Structure… to Be or Not to Bee

As all trained garden designers know, at least one third to one half of any garden design should comprise of shrubs or small trees, to allow for that all important Winter structure when the herbaceous perennials die back for their Winter snooze. And talking of HP’s dying back, the RHS are quick to teach how the gardener’s main job at this time of year is to trim and cut back all perennials, make the garden neat and tidy for the Winter.

At OBAB we don’t always agree with the RHS view of design. We are not afraid of seeing empty spaces in the garden through which to view the big, sternly beautiful Winter sky.

We are not afraid of seeing patches of healthy, nutrient-rich soil thriving with microbial activity over which we scatter a Winter feed of organic green Winter tares and rye.

Infact, we postively encourage all of our clients to enjoy seeing the plants die back slowly, to allow the seed heads to fully develop and provide food and shelter for our local friendly wildlife.

From flat umbel heads of yarrow, to spiky and architectural teasels and thistles; from  Penstemons and Rudbeckias to Asters and Anemones, there is still much to enjoy and benefit to be had from these HP’s as they die back. Not forgetting to mention grasses which are still very much in their prime at this time of year. Including our fave grass of September – Pennisetum.

We are however encouraging our clients to think about Spring and early New Year colour. To this end we have been busily planting lots of lovely Spring bulbs (we love the dwarf Irises) and of course our favourite – Ramsons, for the pretty white Feb/March flowers, their leaves to be used in pesto and stir fries, and the early pollen they arrive.

Another firm fave of ours at the mo. is the Crab Apple ‘Red sentinel.’ Truly a small tree for all seasons. From wonderful blossom in the Spring to pectin rich small, bonny apples in the Autumn, many of which we have been recently using at a number school and local Transition events, to make hedgerow jams.

Talking about structures, we are working on some very interesting design briefs at the moment incorporating hazel hurdles, and secret passages…more news soon.

Having spent an incredibly busy September and October planting up lots of lovely Spring bulbs.

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