Ursula's Cambridge Garden

Professional gardener and plantswoman writing from my small urban garden in a great city

Leave a comment

January 2020 projects

Happy New gardening Year!  It’s been a busy January so far!

Work is progressing well at my new client’s garden – now in my fifth month of working there.  The garden is very stylish, already laid out and planted to a very contemporary design, with lots of yew hedging, lavender, grasses and strong use of mass plantings of silver birch.

Before Christmas is was non stop tidying, cutting back and trimming of hedges and perennials.    This generated a lot of debri, still being slowly cleared.  Here is some of the detritis –

Now we are progressing onto new planting, adding more seasonal succession to the established matrix of plants – more perennials and later, more bulbs.

In the front garden I have started to plant good stalwart evergreen shrubs, known toughies that will last and last (Viburnum tinus, Viburnum davidii, Holly, Bay, Pyracantha, Pittisporum etc.) to a native deciduous hedge line which is a bit bare in the winter.  This also means more shrubs in a garden where there are at present too few shrubs.

First session setting out….

Second session…

Almost there – just one end section still to go….

At another client’s garden the front garden main bed has been much improved since I found it in Autumn 2018 like this….

All the unhappy conifers were removed, and a year later in September 2019 it looked like this – lots of lovely evergreen repetition (Sarcoccoa, Euphorbias) with Salvias, Hebes and Caryopteris in a colour scheme of blues and yellows.

And now this month I planted up the first of a collection of pots to ‘adorn’ (disguise and cover up!) the old man hole cover over a deep drain pipe.  Inspired by Great Dixter’s pot collection I have planted up with Agapanthus, Achillea and assorted bulbs in blue and yellows to make a virtue out of an obstacle that obviously could not be removed from the bed.

At the same garden there is a vast circle bed which is pretty stunning in the Autumn, with huge Viburnum opulus, Cotinus and Forsythias running wild for many a long year to spectacular effect.

But now it is time to take these shrubs in hand, and the client wishes to be able to walk through the centre of the bed, so this month I am tackling the task.

Session one….

It’s a start but still a way to go, watch this space!

Meanwhile in my own garden my witch hazel flowered well in it’s big pot…

And my mass bulb planting last Autumn (in pots, otherwise my cat digs them all up in the beds!) is paying dividends now -Iris reticulata and snowdrops are out, and others on the way.

There is truly no such thing as a dull moment in gardening!


Leave a comment

Merry Christmas 2019

A moment for reflection on the simplicity of the winter garden before Christmas – ‘put to bed’ for the holidays as we gardeners say.  My clients’ gardens are all ready for the festive season in the stark simplicity and elegance of winter.


There’s been a lot of bulb planting this Autumn….

And tree planting…

(Newly planted fig tree Brown Turkey)

And of course an awful lot of leaves…

But now it’s time to clean away all the garden tools for the Christmas break…

Wish everyone a Merry Christmas..

And eagerly await the arrival of more of these in January 2020…..



Merry Christmas!





Spring rushing in…

There is never quite such an exciting moment in the garden as early May as the Spring begins to race on to summer, and the Fern crosiers arrive and all the bulbs begin powering up the borders.

It’s also a good moment to show the contrast with ‘before’ and ‘after’ with projects, so here are some examples from my clients’ gardens.

Garden #1 –

Before (Dec 2018 on arrival) – bindweed, overgrown chaos, slug-ridden and neglected…..

And now five month’s later with new plantings – the south-facing bed’s shrubs revived with new underplantings of catmint, salvias, aqueligia, alchemilla mollis and lavender, the left hand shade bed completely newly planted with shade loving ferns, pulmonaria, brunnera, Euphorbia robbiae.  The circular tree bed seen on the left has been planted with hellebores and the right hand raised beds newly planted with herbs, agapanthus, cistus and salvias.

Garden #2 –

An old neglected sandpit, on arrival in 2017…


Now transformed into a raised herb bed you can sit next to – southfacing, filled with nice gritty compost as a new home for edibles flowers and leaves (Rosemary, Bay, Sage, Fennel, Strawberries, Lemon verbena, Nasturtium, Borage, Pot marigold, Mint, Lavender)


New hedge planted in November 2017 with bulbs about to be planted November 2018 –

And blooming –


Garden #3 –

Building works in 2014, and the very start of the garden….


And now with building works, garden, and planters complete…


Garden #4

Before in Autumn 2018, neglected garden but with a very good backbone of established shrubs and trees.  Here cutting out the south-facing bed ready for planting with hot coloured sun-loving plants.

And now this Spring, with tulips powering up in April…

And Allium and Geums, together with newly envigorated Cotinus taking over in May…

And native English bluebells and Heucheras planted in the shade bed, north-facing, along with Pulmonaria, Epimediums and ferns.

Garden #5 –

Before, the weeding and preparation begins in Autumn 2017…

And now in April 2019, with new trees (Amalanchier and Prunus serrula), new hedge and all new plantings throughout.


Garden #6 –

Top garden cleared of extensive debri in Spring 2018…..and laid out for first wave of plantings…

And now in April 2019….

And finally some shots of my own garden today…..

Happy Gardening!




Leave a comment

One year on….

Welcome to February 2019!

Here are some current projects for clients, one year on…..

February 2018 above, and now in February 2019…

February 2018….

and this week in the February heatwave!


This time last year…

and today…

Last February was the beast from the East…in my own garden…

and February this year…

My new stained glass tower from Hayhoe Designs basking in its new spot with Coronilla and Euphorbia, in 20 degree heat!


Happy gardening.