With RHS Chelsea Flower Show bursting back into bloom, floral designer Susan Dobson from The Yorkshire Dales Flower Company shares her tips for creating the quintessential Yorkshire cottage garden, brimming with colour and abuzz with bumble bees and butterflies.
At the root of a typical English garden are pretty pathways that cut a swathe through perennial plants, rich tapestries of colour, roses running amok and a tangle of sweet peas, all abundantly planted. Sitting back on a lazy summer day it looks blissfully informal and tranquil; to the untrained eye – a little low maintenance, but it actually takes some planning and hard work to pull it off.
The number one tip I pass on at my gardening workshops is to consider the type of soil you have in your garden. We all share the same Yorkshire climate, but our soils vary greatly. It’s pointless investing in lots of plants that like well-drained soil only to find that you have clay soil which has drainage problems and won’t suit them. Learn what will thrive and harness that natural beauty.
To try to create the idyllic and informal look of a Yorkshire cottage garden I suggest that you try to plant in odd numbers; the imbalance ironically looks harmonious to the eye, so where you can try, and plant your flowers up unevenly. I also suggest filling every bit of space you have so the garden is abundant with colour.
Grouping colours together works really well and when doing so consider the different heights as this can help create the romantic feel of the garden.
Perennials abundantly planted are at the root of any gorgeous English garden. I love growing poppies, clematis, delphiniums, cornflowers, lavender, phlox and hollyhocks in my garden in Bradley. All combine well with a canvas of pretty annuals like stalwart garden favourites including Scabious, Cosmos and Nasturtium.
The scent of fresh herbs outside the back door is also a worthy reward for sprinkling a few seeds this spring. Use pots to stop mint from running rampant and for nursing basil, while rosemary, chives and oregano provide fragrant ground cover with varied leaf forms. High levels of sunlight are particularly important for obtaining good herb flavour, though so herbs should ideally be planted in the best lit area of the garden.
Once your garden is brimming with natural beauty this summer, consider bringing some of the sensational scents indoors. There is nothing more lovely than a vase of fresh home grown flowers to make your house feel a home. Many of the flowers we use in our arrangements for weddings, film shoots and special occasions are all grown and hand-picked from my garden.