Gardenproud Blog

Archive for the ‘Gardening Tips’ Category

2017 Gardenproud Show Garden opens at Corker’s

Friday, April 14th, 2017

“Contemplation” – A Quiet Space

a garden design by George Sykes of Gardenproud

Fighting our way through our busy lives it’s all too easy

to forget that it’s good to stop, enjoy some down time,

and clear our minds.

“Contemplation” has been designed by George Sykes (23) of

Gardenproud to provide that peaceful spot where we

can relax and reflect.

The Garden features a shallow pond leading to a

sanctuary,  sheltered by two English Oak arches where

you can seek refuge on a comfortable bespoke oak bench.

The stepping stones leading to and surface of the sanctuary

use Italian porcelain pavers.

Your eye is immediately drawn to the iron sculpture,

created by local artist Michael Hart, who designed this piece

specifically for the garden. The sculpture includes a series of vertical panels that have been forged by Michael to create a rippling pattern, echoing the

gentle calm of the shallow ponds surface.

Finally the planting both in the pond and around the garden has been provided by “How Green Nursery” and is designed to reflect the theme, enclose the sanctuary and reinforce the sense of calm. The theme is “white”

inspired Sissinghurst’s famous White Garden.

Plant List:

Pond –

Nymphaea Candida (Dwarf White Water Lily) – White cup shaped flowers with yellow stamens

Beds –

- Pittosporum tenuifolium – ‘Pompom’ – evergreen balls, c 450mm

- Stipa Lessingiana – Feather grass, a hardy perennial, c 750mm

- Allium Mount Everest – A beautiful cream, statuesque allium, May/June flowering

- Agapanthus Africanus Albus- White , July to September Flowering

- Zantedeschia Aethiopica – distinctive white flowers March – June

- Dryopteris Wallichiana – an outstandingly hardy fern, with upright stems covered in brown-black bristly hairs.

- Cornus Alba Elegantissima – Dogwood, flowering May/June, green variegated with white leaf

- Penstemon Pensham – Artic Fox, summer to autumn flowering

- Salvia Nemorosa – Lyrical- White flowering, early summer flowering perennial

- Spiraea Arguta – “Bridal Wreath” – Spring flowering shrub

- Aquilegia Vulgaris -”White Barlow” – c 900mm, spring/summer flowering

- Leucojum Gravetye  – “White snow drops” – spring flowering

- Astelia Chathamica – Silver Spear – Silver green long leaves reminiscent of phormiums, flowering late Spring

- Freesia- Wonderfully fragrant creamy white flowers in Spring

To view the garden in all its glory you can call into Corker’s new show gardens which open to the public from 14th April 2017.

For further information and help with your garden design

please contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820,

or email him at reallygardenproud@btinternet.com

Whether you are seeking a contemporary, or traditional solution

we are here to help you. Gardenproud have been established since 2007, and have designed and built many gardens in the Tunbridge Wells area.

We also have a garden maintenance division which has looked

after many properties locally.

We are based in nearby Matfield, Kent.

See Gardenproud on Instagram

Friday, January 29th, 2016

We’ve recently joined Instagram and have the grand total of 30 Followers!

So a long way to go yet.

We are trying to upload new photos everyday.

The above photo features Basil who is one of our regular ride-on drivers, it’s already got a like from would you believe John Deere!

If you are looking for great pictures to inspire your garden thinking, then look no further than Gardenproud. You can see us at www.instagram.com

If you haven’t already signed up you can download the app for i-phone (IOS) , Android, or Windows phone at the above, or visit your App Store on your phone.

Looking forward to having you as Followers soon!

Gardenproud Photo Highlights 2015

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

2015 was an excellent year for Gardenproud.

Lots of new projects for the landscaping division and some previous projects revisited and updated. Which is all good stuff as gardens evolve.

We went to Chelsea and gleaned inspiration from the latest designs, braved the weather and enjoyed the champagne. We’ve started designing and creating garden buildings as part of our landscaping offer. The Maintenance teams  worked extremely hard to cope with the new assignments, and new gardeners joined the team. We look forward to recruiting more team members in 2016.

It is with great sadness to report that Emmett Gilah, who was a regular member of the team, has unfortunately died. He was an industrious chap and good gardener and far too young to die. Our thoughts go out to his family. Thank you Emmett you will be sorely missed.

2015 was a big year for us, as we moved house. We haven’t moved for 16 years. So had forgotten just how stressy and time consuming the whole process is. Especially when you are also trying to run two businesses. So having beautified our last house and completely re-fashioned the garden, we now have a new garden. So watch this space!

Fortunately shortly after moving we had a holiday. Which was a real tonic. Sarah and I visited a number of gardens during our summer holiday. We went to Madeira, which was an eye opener. We went in August, but if you really want to see the flora, I suggest you go in April or May. But do go. It is a wonderful island and it benefits from a sub-tropical climate. Over the years it has had a strong British influence, so the planting is a bit a mixture between those we see in the UK and more tropical specimens. There is a very good book (which I bought) written by an Englishman, Gerald Luckhurst. He is a landscape architect and has designed and built many gardens on Madeira. Sounds like a rather good job!

Back home and back to work on our plans for the new house and various gardens.

So here we are already in 2016. A new house, a new garden, a greenhouse for the first time, some new possible avenues, new projects and new gardens. Oh yes, we’ve got a little more savvy on the media front – we are already on Facebook, we are now on Instagram! I think we have the grand total of 30 followers, so do look us up (my son claims to have 1400)!  I don’t believe him.

See us at www.instagram.com

Enough said, 2016 looks busy, I’d better stop writing and get on with it!

Highlights of Chelsea 2015

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

By Tim Sykes, Design Director at Gardenproud – 20/5/15

Team members from Gardenproud had a lovely day at The Chelsea Flower Show yesterday. Albeit typical English weather, we braved the showers and enjoyed the sunshine when it came.

The intro photo is a homage to one conclusion. That that among other colours, “orange” was very much part of the planting plan for many gardens.

Interestingly this colour is in with fashion designers this year. So maybe we should all read Vogue instead of the Garden Design Journal?

Weather apart, the show was really very good.

The first garden we saw was Jo Thompson’s M&G sponsored design – The Retreat. As you’d expect as the main sponsor for the show, no expense spared here. But, Jo really did herself proud on this and it looked amazing. I particularly liked her planting and the pontoons sitting in the water looked stunning.

Jo got a Silver-Gilt for this, but in my mind she should have received a Gold.

The next garden that grabbed our attention was Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam’sLiving Legacy. This garden commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

And how poignantly they achieve this.

With their scaffold poles carefully grinded into jagged spears the scene is set for a dramatic vista.

The guys received a Silver Gilt and what can I say, a very original idea well deserving of the award.

The next garden that certainly caught my wife’s eye was HRH Prince Harry’s Lesotho inspired project, designed by Matt Keightley (Matt is of 2014 fame with his “Hope on the Horizon” garden – brilliant). Hope is still in the name – “Hope in Vulnerability”

Well another Silver-Gilt was awarded, but like Jo’s I thought this garden really deserved a Gold.

Note the orange flowers!

I’m not sure if I’m old and fuddy duddy, but I didn’t like what I call the Bus Stop garden. The planting was very nice, but the architecture and hard landscaping seemed at odds, almost disconnected. Obviously my opinion is not relevant! This is the Cloudy Bay Garden, designed by Harry and David Rich. And it got a Gold!

Very clever, but not my cup of tea.

A clear favourite for one of our team members was the Homebase garden – Urban Retreat - in Association with Macmillan Cancer Research. Designed by Adam Frost.  I have to say this was a really refreshing entry from Homebase and it definitely deserved a Gold.

Two pics on this one. Well done Adam.

In the same vain, there was another garden, a little smaller, but none the less, no less brilliant. This was in the Fresh Gardens category, designed by Ruth Willmott – The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Garden. I really liked this garden.

A high contrast looking space both in terms of the way the hard and soft landscaping co-exist. Ruth has done a great job. Helped by a superb sculpture  by Rick Kirby.

Among the smaller gardens, I was struck by the exotic beauty of the Kranji, by Esmond Landscape. This was designed by John Tan and Raymond Tah. What a wonderful inspiration for those really difficult spaces where you have a huge drop just behind the house, that needs landscaping. A waterfull. why didn’t I think of it! The contractors landform did a super job of creating the vision, and here it is….

Ah! Look another glimpse of orange.

Well a Silver-Gilt, and well deserved.

Now, I have this really annoying habit of talking to anybody, and my wife despairs. She usually walks on at flower shows and I then have to try and find where the dickens she’s gone, which is all very stressful! But there I was, transfixed by the Viking Ocean Cruises show stand and being very rude about the whole idea of cruises and this chap said, “I know what you mean!” 50 something and not wanting to admit it. I spoke to guy, who I thought was just another punter, but he could just as easily have been a carefully planted Viking salesman. Anyway he was my age and I rudely commented on the people of a certain age who frequented cruises, then he corrected me and said he thought the same. But, ” couldn’t understand why his parents always went on cruises”. Then he went on one and is hooked. So maybe we will try one! Anyway the Viking garden was very impressive.

There were lots of other gardens and some really very smart commercial stands. One particular stand I was impressed by was the A Place in the Garden Stand. These guys had some wonderful outdoor lanterns and interesting zinc oversize balls. The  mixing of which with some traditional buxus balls could look stunning..

I had a long chat and was surprisingly impressed by the reasonable pricing strategy. So look them up at www.distinctivegarden.co.uk

Ok, so this is it…..

You cannot possibly ignore the shear passion and energy that went into the Chatsworth Garden. It is an unbelievable feat of design and logistics.

Dan Pearson, the designer is a god.

He has taken a great chunk of the garden and transposed it piece by piece, low loader, by low loader and recreated it at Chelsea.

I take my hat off to his courage, persuasive manner and ability to see through such a vision.

He thoroughly deserves BEST IN SHOW!

For further information or help with designing your garden for 2015 contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820, 0r at info@reallygardenproud.com

How to create your very own Cuttings Garden

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Tim Sykes of Tunbridge Wells based Gardenproud,
shares with us some inspiration for our summer gardens……..

Imagine a year round supply of your favourite blooms to display in your hallway, without the cost of buying a bouquet every week?

That priceless fresh aroma and splendid display that welcomes you every time you enter your house.

Well you could be creating your own supply of fresh blooms.


Why not dedicate an area of your garden to an experiment this year?

I was inspired to research into Cuttings Gardens last Summer, having visited Les Jardins du Manoir d’Erignac in the Dordogne.

In the kitchen area of the garden a large bed had been dedicated to a rotational plan of flowering. It was chockablock full of blooms of varying varieties, creating a kaleidoscope of colours and choice for the avid flower arranger. The area Erignac had set aside was quite large, probably c 12 x 6m.


But you don’t need such a large space. Just 3 x 4m would be more than sufficient.

A conversation with one of my gardening colleagues revealed an approach. Jenny who has worked with us for over 2 years has recently created her own Cuttings Garden.



She has been in the horticultural business for over 10 years. She specialises at the moment in traditional, seasonal outdoor crops such as Sweet Peas, Cornflowers, and Ammi. For the past 2 years she has grown almost everything from seed, producing crops from June through to October.

Jenny comments: ” It’s great that there is such a ‘buzz” around British grown blooms at the moment, so come on, leap on the bandwagon and start your very own flower patch!”

So what could you be planting in your Cuttings Garden?


Well here are some ideas…..


Jenny’s plan is based on an area of c 4.5m x 3.5m. It features 4 raised beds (2m x 1.5m each), with shingle pathways between them. If you like vegetables and herbs then by adding two further beds of similar sizes you could have a complete Kitchen Garden.


Her planting list includes:

In Bed 1 – Mostly Shrubs and Perennials, including Sarcocca confuse, Convallaria majalis,Papaver orientalis and Gladiolus nanus


Bed 2 - Mostly Hardy Annuals, including Ammi majus, Calendula officinalis, Consolida ajacis and Briza maxima


Bed 3 - Mostly Biennials, including Digitalis, Eryngium giganteum and Dianthus barbatus


Bed 4 - Mostly Half hardy annuals, including Didiscus, Nicotiana, Sunflower/Rudbeckia and Sweat Peas


It is best to cordon off an area of the garden that is in full sunlight. You may need to incorporate a leaky pipe system, or be prepared to embark on a regular watering regime.

Most flowers are best picked when they are just starting to show colour. This except some plants, such as roses and dahlias, which may not fully develop if picked too early.

For best results, collect cut flowers in the morning when their stems are full of water.

Avoid picking flowers during warm and sunny conditions as they will be water stressed.

Place the stems into a bucket of water as soon as possible after cutting.

Good luck and enjoy the summer sunshine in your garden.

For further help, or information about designing, or creating your own cuttings, herb or vegetable garden contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or see Gardenproud at www.reallygardenproud.com

Your Gardening Questions -1

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

- Do you have any advice about pruning wisterias?

Wisteria should be pruned twice a year Jan/Feb and July/August. With winter pruning you can cut back to within 2-3 buds of the main plant structure.

In the summer prune back the whippy shoots, tie back plant into trellis, cutting back to c 5 buds from main structure. With older plants you can cut back further, removing areas where the plant over hangs windows and twist around drain pipes. For further advice see RHS website.


- What is the best way to deal with bulbs once they are over?

Dead head the flower heads after they have bloomed, then leave the plants. The main strategy here is to allow the plants to put it’s energy back into the bulb for next years growth. After a while the stem and leaves will turn brown, then you can cut back and trim off the dead foliage.

- We have recently had a large tree removed from a bank in our garden. Do you have any suggestions for a shrub to replace this?

Berberis is  a large shrub with deep red foliage and all round year colour. The variety – Berberis “Superba” has beautiful purple colouring. It is a vigorous, deciduous shrub. With new bronze red growth, yellow-orange flowers in the Spring then red berries in the Autumn. It can be used as an individual shrub, or hedge. It contrasts well with green hedge plants and adjoining shrubs. It will grow to 2-3m in height.

For further information, or to ask any further questions please contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud, you can contact him by email at info@reallygardenproud.com

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015 – a photo walk through the gardens of 2014 with Gardenproud

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Just a glimpse at some of the gardens we have created, maintained, visited and enjoyed during the year.

Looking forward to 2015.

We hope you all have a very enjoyable Christmas and New Year celebration.

For more information about Gardenproud, our Garden Maintenance, Garden Design and Landscaping services please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or at info@reallygardenproud.com

Great Comp is GREAT!

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

By Tim Sykes

Great Comp Garden is situated close to Crouch and St Mary’s Platt in Kent. Not far from Sevenoaks.

It’s well worth a visit. You can see more at their website www.greatcompgarden.co.uk

The gardens are open from the beginning of April through to 31st October each year. They are run by a charitable trust, adult entrance is £6.

Great Comp Gardens surround a beautiful 17th Century Manor House. There are various events during the year, so it’s worth checking on the website before your visit. This year hosted a specialist plant fair in the Spring, Open Air Theatre plus, The Great Comp Summer Show, and most recently the Autumn Extravaganza.

I’ve been driving past Great Comp enroute to one of our clients in Crouch for some time now and have been meaning to visit. So last week I used a spare couple of hours to whisk myself around the gardens, then enjoy a nice cup of tea and cake on their splendid Tea Terrace, adjoining The Old Dairy Tearooms.

The gardens are beautifully laid out and cover some 7 acres. With some very dramatic and colourful herbaceous borders, punctuated by stunning ornamental grasses, plus Azaleas, Magnolias, Acers and Rhododenrons. The garden also features many statues and folly’s, plus a more recently added Italian Garden.

While I was there there were an amazing array of Dahlias all out in full bloom, plus the grasses were wonderful, especially as they swayed in the rather pleasant breeze.

A visit during the summer will reveal their large salvia collection. You can find out more about this at www.dysonsalvias.com

Dysons Nurseries run by the Head Gardener and Curator, William Dyson, are situated at Great Comp and sell a select range of unusual hardy and half-hardy plants.

Whilst there I was rather attracted by some smart Peonie frames and climber posts. I’m afraid I succumbed and bought two of each!

Talking to the staff in the Tea Room, Great Comp is always keen to encourage voluntary help in the gardens. To offer assistance you can contact them on 01732 885094.

We will definitely be returning to Great Comp in the spring next year to enjoy their colourful borders.

For further information about Great Comp, Garden Design and Landscaping, or any Garden Maintenance questions please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or via email at info@reallygardenproud.com


Eridge Horse Trials 2014

Monday, July 7th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago we trialled a little experiment.

Can we make a show garden in 2 days?

The Eridge Horse trials was beckoning. This has in the past been an international event attracting intermediate riders across a 3 part course including dressage, show jumping and cross country.

For further information about events see  South Eastern Equestrian Services at www.seesltd.com

The Event is set in the delightful grounds of the Eridge Estate, owned by the Marquess of Abergavenny.

The horse riding fraternity are of key interest to us, as are the residents of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding countryside, so what better way than create a lovely garden for all the visitors to the show to enjoy!

A very generous Tim Nolan, who incidentally organises the Trials with his mum, helped give us a big enough space and prominent enough position, to put us in front of our audience.

Thanks Tim!

So the test was on. A design was needed. Equipment, materials and plants were required. A design in hand and a couple of conversations later, and Tate Fencing and The Flower Pot Nursery, both based in Tunbridge Wells were on-board.

A BIG thank you to both of you!

The concept looked like this….

Essentially the show garden/stand revolved around a centre-piece – a nice (quintessentially English) open marquee, bordered by matching trellis panels and cottage garden borders. As a real crowd puller two giant terracotta pots contained two beautiful Ilex Crenata’s.

The Planting Plan included:

- A palette of Purples, Blues, Whites, Pinks and Lilacs

- Plants including……

Agapanthus

Verbena Bonariensis

Euonymous

Hydrangea Macrophylla

Echinacea Southern Belle

Lava Terra Barnsley

Lavender Augustifolia Edelweiss

Delphinium Highlander

Veronica First Glory

Veronica Fascination

Veronica Spicata

Achilliea Millefolium

Ceanothus Burkwoodii

Persicaria Superbum

Buxus

Thalictrum Delavayi Splendide

Geranium Orion

Cosmos

Stachys Lanata Byzantia

Campanula Lectiflora

Cistus Dansereaui

Salvia Amistad

Salvia Caradonna

Salvia Patens

Nepeta x Faassenii

Stokesia Laevis

With the plans under our arms we started to gather all the materials then set upon setting up the stand on the Thursday before the Show. We had 2 days to turn this into a reality……

We hope you like the finished result.

The whole experience was inexpensive, thoroughly enjoyable and created a surprisingly healthy list of enquiries, including cementing some good relationships with trusted suppliers.

So we’ll do it again!

For further information about our design, build and garden maintenance services contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or at Gardenproud.

Magnificent! I don’t need to go to Chelsea now!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

What a lovely thought!

But that was our dear client’s reaction was when she returned from holiday recently.

She found her Tunbridge Wells town garden transformed from the grass bank it was, to the contemporary space that she can now enjoy with her friends and family.

The new garden was designed by Tim Sykes from Gardenproud. A modern and tranquil space with interesting features and terraced planting, plus entertaining and relaxing areas designed to mask the natural topography, and create the illusion of a much larger garden than the town location affords.

“The basic design concept uses a series of offset rectangles, that both interact and interrupt each other, plus are layered. This helps create different points of focus and different compartments within the garden, ” comments Tim.

Even the rather swish terraced pond reflects the concept.

So does the bespoke pergola that now frames the pastel blue painted Lutyens bench.

First things first, the terrace was enlarged, so that it now accommodates a large table and chairs for at least 8 people in two possible locations.

Cedar strip panelling was used to help accentuate features and create vertical blocks.

The grassed area features two offset oblongs that leads the eye round to an interesting mirror.

This feature reflects the terraced planted up platforms on the opposite side of the garden.

Here is planted what will become a grouping of buxus balls that will eventually merge to form a cloud formation.

“The terraced pond was a labour of love!” states Sykes. “We wanted to create a slate clad vision that contrasted with the adjoining cedar and oak materials. But slate was potentially a problem from a frost perspective, so we eventually went down a route that used  slate coloured and textured porcelain tiles. A lot of research later and we found the perfect finish. Thank goodness!”

A textured slate strip forms the basis of the outer walls, and a riven traditional slate tile is used as the copings.

The whole garden, including the workings of the pond, all run off a clever wireless remote control system that has become the hallmark of Gardenproud gardens. “These days it’s important to be able to use the outdoor space in the evenings as well. So we try wherever possible to incorporate lighting with schemes and create zones that can be illuminated in isolation, as well as fountains and other water features that can be remotely controlled. It can all contribute to some quite dramatic results, and reasonably green too as they employ LED low wattage fittings, or bulbs. “

The planting plan also played a major role in this garden. A colour palette featuring blue, lilac, purple, white and of course various hues of green was featured throughout. Gigantic lilac alliums helped create a linking theme between different areas, bamboo columns form the basis of what will become the rear wall of the garden, a salix half standard tree links with planting of euonymous, salvias are repeated in different places in contrasting colours. Miscanthus sinesis flamingo sits among giant verbena bonariensis. Beautiful white agapanthus frame the black steel obelisk that tops the upper terraces. And behind this a wall of white jasmine will adorn the trellis background.

Two beautiful wisteria will eventually trail over the contemporary pergola. A border of lavender softens the link of the pond with the lower terrace.

Anyway, whilst our client may not feel she needs fresh inspiration from our Chelsea peers, I always do!

So I’m looking forward to my trip tomorrow to London to the Chelsea Flower Show 2014.

I’ll see what I can pick up and incorporate in our thinking for 2015!

For further information about Garden Design contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820, or via email info@reallygardenproud.com