Peeping into other people’s gardens

I have been doing a lot of walking.

My permitted daily walk has allowed me to get to my allotment and I have been going very regularly. It’s perfect really because this is a very busy time horticulturally. With the warm, sunny weather the weeds have been starting to grow madly. I have Mares Tail on my plot and this week it has been poking its head above the parapet. My treatment is to pull it up with as much root as possible and just keep doing this until it is exhausted. I have had my plot for 8 years and like clockwork the Mares Tail keeps appearing every spring. Ah well!

So if its warm enough for the weeds it is also warm enough for veg. I planted beetroot and carrot seeds about a month ago and with regular watering to prevent the upper soil drying out they have germinated and I have lots of little seedlings. Amazingly considering the wet and relatively warm winter the snails and slugs have not raised them to the ground. Fingers crossed they continue to grow strongly.

Walking to the plot has been a joy. The lack of traffic has meant an exhaust-fume free stroll. I have lingered to take photos of all the pretty spring front gardens on my route. Peering over walls and fences. Seeing how other people do it. Plants that I would not normally look at twice take on a different complexion when seen in other people’s gardens.

This hedge of Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ has become ubiquitous and as such I would refrain from planting it. But look at the amazing colour of the new growth, which will turn green as it matures through the year, and you can see why it is chosen. Here planted against a backdrop of redbrick it really is quite handsome. I particularly like the way the hedge has been allowed to be quite free and not cut back and restrained.

I was rather taken with this red combination. The tulips shining in the sunshine, luminous with the light shining through them, the red-tinged new growth of the roses and the red car parked on the driveway. Tulips are such an addition to any border. There are so many varieties, shapes and sizes. Most tulips you have to regard as annuals and replant each year as they tend to become smaller and disappear altogether after a few years. The exception to this are the species tulips. Things like Tulipa whittalii, a stunning tulip with two tone petals orange on the outside and red on the inside, that reliably comes back and increases every year.

Tulipa whittallii with two tone petals

I love these two little front garden borders that include tulips. The purple tulips in the first picture that team up so well with the new purple growth of the Hebe to the left is offset by the luminous green of the spiky leaf coming through in the middle of the composition.

In this small border the pillar box red tulips are enhanced and tempered by the zingy green of the Euphorbia in the foreground and that special blue that bluebells have even though these are the less lovely spanish variety. In this composition they look lovely. In the background the new growth of Peonies can just seen showing that even in the smallest of spaces you can have a succession of plants that will look lovely throughout the year.

I have come to shrubs late in life. I am so entranced by flowering plants that I have never seen the benefit of a shrub which always seems to take up too much space in my mind.
The next two pictures show how useful they can be particularly in front gardens. The white and lilac Lilacs in the left hand picture not only look lovely but the smell is incredible as you walk past. These are very near the entrance to the allotment so welcome me every time I make the trip. The picture on the right would not be something I would do in my own garden but this grouping of evergreen shrubs makes for a low-maintenance and interesting composition of plants. The Euphorbia and Ceanothus work well together and who says leaves are all green.


I couldn’t resist taking this photo. It shows how planting in the right place not only in terms of what a plant likes with its situation and soil but also with regard to the light. I took this photo in the later afternoon and the lower sun catches this incredible Acer palmatum so it looks like it is literally on fire. It is a good idea to think about this when you are planting specimen shrubs that have strong colours or ornamental grasses that if planted in the right place can look ethereal with the early morning or late afternoon sun catching the seed heads.

If you are thinking of adding to your garden or are starting from scratch having a look at how other people do it can give you inspiration. You might find that plants you might not have considered can be not only useful but very attractive if planted in the right place and with the right companions.

Happy Gardening

ps If you need any help with designing your garden do not hesitate to get in touch

2 thoughts on “Peeping into other people’s gardens”

  1. Other people’s gardens, whether in town or online, are such fun. I like my garden the way it is, but it is so utilitarian, with mostly white flowers. White is my favorite color, and I like simplicity. Other gardens are more adventurous and colorful.

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  2. Hi Tessa.
    Thanks for the pics of other people’s gardens, all of them front gardens, I guess they might wonder what you’re up to if you were to sneak round the side alley, if they have one, to check out the back plot!
    Like you, I love to look at front gardens here in Netley. The individuality of each one is so revealing.
    Netley, like anywhere else, displays a range of styles and tastes of frontage. Dominant at this time of year are the flashy ones: Choisya “Sundance”, Photinia “Red Robin”, and the Euonymus fortunei, gold and silver ones.. Sunglasses on, keep walking.
    Queueing for the Post Office, I am amazed by a front garden overtaken by a Fuchsia, I think it’s “Riccartonii”, but it’s grown up the drainpipe to 20ft., and out to the front garden wall. Later, when it flowers, it’s a local landmark. Someone else has got an enormous, spectacular Mimosa, Acacia dealbata, thriving in the seaside air.
    I love wonderful mistakes: plants people have bought without reading the label, and now they are a job for a JCB to dig out!
    Bless the impulse buyer in the garden centre. They keep the likes of me employed!
    Yeah, but you learn too. Who’ d have thought that a Fuchsia could Climb up a wall like that?
    X. Nick

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