Even Formal Gardens Benefit Wildlife

We recently completed a garden design and landscaping job in Brighton. The brief was to create a formal garden using traditional box hedging using white stones to brighten the space up. Instead of using box hedging it was decided to use Japanese Holly, Ilex crenata, as the client became aware of box blight being a problem in the area. Going with the Victorian black and white diamond path we decided on a diamond shape using an ornamental black grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’,as a central black diamond. The corner plants between the hedgeing were something the clients (Kath and Jon) chose and had ready for planting on the day.
The job didn’t start well. On the first day we had to tackle a very steep slope in heavy rain at the front of the building, where Kath and Jon wanted to use railway sleepers to help retain some of the soil so they could plant Cotoneaster. The idea being that the Cotoneaster would cover the bank and grow up the side walls and fences. I love this plant as it is an amazing bee plant in spring when it is literally buzzing with hungry pollinators. The pollinated flowers then develop into hundreds of small red berries that supply birds (and foxes in my garden) with a good food source over the cold winter months. On top of all that we were being watched over by a gardening legend living next door.
When I was first contacted about taking on the job Kath and Jon had mentioned that there was some garden landscaper guy next door that might be able to help them source some of the materials. It was only on the eve of beginning the work that they dropped the bomb and told me his name. None other than world famous, multi Chelsea Gold Medal winner and Best in Show 2010, Andy Sturgeon. No pressure then!!
Once the rain had lifted and a after a few laughs with Andy we cracked on and completed the garden. Even before we had planted the Ilex hedge plants (120 of them in an afternoon through ground sheeting!!!) the bees and butterflies were taking advantage of the nectar rich flowers. Once the plants were in the last remaining job was to transfer three thousand kilograms of white stone to finish off the garden. It was very bright once down but the brightness will fade over time, while the plants will take form creating a lovely space for Kath and Jon to enjoy from their first floor living room window.

Garden Before work began

Garden Before work began

Garden after work had been completed

Garden after work had been completed

Garden Before work began

Garden Before work began

Garden after work had been completed

Garden after work had been completed

Garden Before work began

Garden Before work began

Garden after work had been completed

Garden after work had been completed

ormal Garden landscaping

Formal Garden landscaping

The Ilex crenata being delivered

The Ilex crenata being delivered

Re-positioning the path entrance

Re-positioning the path entrance

Re-positioning the path entrance

Re-positioning the path entrance

The end of day 2

The end of day 2

Marking out where plants will go to condition the soil

Marking out where plants will go to condition the soil

Fish, Blood and Bone will give the plants a boost and help them create new root growth

Fish, Blood and Bone will give the plants a boost and help them create new root growth

Laying down the ground sheet ready for planting

Laying down the ground sheet ready for planting

Placing plants ready for the mammoth job of cutting, digging and planting in the 120 hedge plants

Placing plants ready for the mammoth job of cutting, digging and planting in the 120 hedge plants

Two of my most trusted tools.  My garden knife and my perennial spade

Two of my most trusted tools. My garden knife and my perennial spade

A holly blue butterfly taking advantage of the flowers even before the plants are in the ground

A holly blue butterfly taking advantage of the flowers even before the plants are in the ground

The bumblebees were allover the plants as soon as they were off the truck

The bumblebees were allover the plants as soon as they were off the truck

The hedge taking shape

The hedge taking shape

3 tonne of stone going over the whole garden really brightens things up!

3 tonne of stone going over the whole garden really brightens things up!

The final design put into practice

The final design put into practice

The black grass will fill out creating a black diamond in the white stone, while the hedge and corner plants will thicken up over time

The black grass will fill out creating a black diamond in the white stone, while the hedge and corner plants will thicken up over time