Ursula's Cambridge Garden

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

1 Comment

Through Lockdown and out the other side

I realised to my horror that I had not posted on my Blog since the end of January!

January to March was very busy indeed with a great ammount of planting for clients – shrubs, trees and bulbs, all very exciting plans.  Then Lockdown commenced from 23 March and I stopped working.  I definitely had a lot more time to work on and appreciate my own garden (see above), but after a month I have begun returning to work, by agreement with my clients and with appropriate social distancing.  In these unprecedented times, it is a comfort to know that so many people across the country are seeking solice in their gardens, and finding the strength to carry on inspired by the resilience of nature.

Before Lockdown I was busy creating a new patio border for one of my clients, previously planted with Cornus and Verbena Bonariensis, but now with Rosemary, Hebe and Cistus added for more seasonal variation.  It’s a tough call for the plants in a south-facing garden thats a wind tunnel, but these are all very tough plants that will survive and thrive.  Also the deciduous hedge line bed, seen to the left of the image, has had many tough favourite evergreens added for a secondary hedging layer, including Viburnum davidii, Eleagnus, Viburnum tinus, Choisya and Holly.

Tulip time was just starting – her photographed at another client’s garden backed by the morning sun.

The day before Lockdown I photographed my client’s front garden bed, which was planted last Autumn.  Its coming along nicely with the Euphorbia wulfenii and Coronilla complementing each other nicely.  This bed is a yellow and blue bed, with Caryopteris, Hypericum, Salvia, Lavender and Phlomis for later in the year.  The Lonicera nitida hedge is a nice framing for the plantings, which face the house, and a good deliniation against the pavement.

And this is the same bed in September 2018 containing only struggling conifers and half dying box.

During my stay at home I enjoyed tending my own garden a bit more than usual, and enjoying it in the lovely weather.

The violas this Spring have been particularly lovely….

Osteospermum are one of my favourite summer pot performers…this one from Sarah Raven is doing very well on a hot balcony is flowers from April all the way through to November.

My Cistus corbariensis is doing well as a reliable but beautiful plant for tough sunny, hot conditions.

On returning to work I was pleased to find my client’s gardens looking very well.  This planting of bluebells, Centaurea montana (knapweed), Solomen’s seal and Lilac looking good, with half barrels planted with Salvia, Catmint and Euphorbia.

And at another client’s garden, the Magnolia ‘Susan’ we planted before Lockdown (in pot) , and the Montana Clematis greeted me back after three days of rain.

Keep gardening, keep smiling and Stay Safe.


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!