Gardenproud Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Potager Gardens’

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

New Look at Gardenproud!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

The new Gardenproud brochure is printed and available for you to see.

It features some of the highlights from our recent Landscaping projects.

To get your copy, or for more information about our

Design, Construction or Maintenance services,

just contact us at info@reallygardenproud.com

or, call Tim Sykes on 07725 173820

The Gardens of Villandry

Monday, July 28th, 2014

By Tim Sykes – 28/7/14

Whenever the name Villandry is mentioned it conjures up hazy memories of long boozy lunches during my advertising heydays! A restauranteur rather cleverly created an excellent restaurant, come wine shop, come bar, come specialist food store in Great Portland Street. I’m pleased to say it’s still thriving today, some 15 years after my last lunch! Do pop in if you are passing that way. The food I’m sure is still very tasty, and the wine list even better.

Somewhere equally appealing are the Gardens of Villandry, situated just 15 kilometres west of Tours, France.

I recently persuaded my wife and teenage son to call in on them enroute to the Dordogne. “Yes, OK”, was the response.”But, you are only allowed exactly one hour!” This may seem rather stingy on their part, but believe me these things take some negotiating!

My main interest were the potager, or kitchen gardens, as I’m currently involved in designing a scheme for one of my key clients. So this focus helped whittle down the tour.

We arrived at Villandry at 10am and it was already blisteringly hot. We paid for ‘Jardin’ at the entrance (€6 Adults, and €4.50 Youths). The Chateau looked equally enticing, but not this time!

Villandry is reputedly the last of the great Renaissance chateaux of the Loire to be built, in 1536. It was not a royal palace, but instead the seat of a royal minister, Jean Le Breton. Despite being a Finance Minister, Jean’s architectural expertise was incredible, and he was noted for his works, including the creation of Chambord, which he oversaw before he built Villandry.

As part of the scheme Jean conceived of a garden landscape that would blend the chateau into the surrounding Loire countryside.

The Chateau and grounds remained in the Le Breton family until 1754, when Villandry became the property of The Marquis de Castellane. He was the king’s ambassador, and he brought the castle up to date with modern 18th century standards of comfort and design.

In 1907 Villandry was purchased by a Spaniard, Joachim Carvallo. Carvallo and his American wife were scientists. The house and gardens had fallen into disrepair, so Carvallo set upon a complete programme of renovation. The Chateau was transformed, but it was the gardens that most of his energies and imagination went into.

These are vast, and truly magnificent.

Laid out over 5 hectares. Today they are looked after by a full-time team of nine gardeners.

Given the size and complexity of the gardens, careful planning and a rigorous timetable are required. This all sounds very familiar!

There are 7 distinct areas of the garden:

1. The Ornamental Garden

Stretches behind the Chateau, and features some incredible topairy depicting different takes on the theme of love. Unifying these gardens is the use of box hedging borders set to a Moorish theme, and sixty yew trees, all carefully shaped to a standard size and design ( I have the specification)!

Whilst we were visiting, we were treated to the gardening team out in force tweaking these designs.


Inside each shape are flowers. These are all planted in blocks of colour to enhance the dramatic pattern of this area. My guess is that this part of the garden was also used for cuttings, so at different times of the year plentiful supplies of fresh flowers were available to the household. Something to remember for a cuttings section to my own designs.

At the end of my ‘hour’ , I visited the garden shop and have purchased topairy ball guides, so will experiment as soon as we get home! I also managed to pick up a selection of seeds from the ornamental garden area, including Coquelicot ‘Rouge a Coeur Noir’.

2. The Woods

If you have the time, and the inclination to climb up into the adjoining woods you can gain some stunning views of the Chateau and Gardens. Also situated up there are the greenhouses.

3. The Water Garden

An ingenious watering system for the entire gardens eminates from a large ornamental pond on the upper terrace. This is shaped in the form of a Louis XV mirror. From this water cascades down a staircase of waterfalls into a moat which then distributes water into the planting areas below.

4. The Sun Garden

This is the most recent of the gardens, set on a plateau above the Water Garden. It features a series of herbaceous beds, set out in a formal pattern, but planted with varieties and allowed to grow in a more informal fashion.

Whilst we were visiting we bumped upon an artist recording the beauty of the gardens in oils. With his Van Gogh hat he seemed to be enjoying the mid morning sun.


Another artist who has recently had their sculptures added to this area of the garden is Marine d’Harcourt.

5. The Maze

Is planted with closely cropped hornbeam hedges. The correct pathway leads to a lookout post in the centre from where you can work out your safe retreat.
Probably easy to get out of in the winter!

6. The Herb Garden

Adjoining the Maze is the long, corridor like herb garden. This is the traditional garden of the Middle Ages full of aromatic, cooking and medicinal herbs.

7. The Kitchen, or Potager Garden

This is what we were here to see. And wow! What a display. I counted 9 areas, featuring different geometric patterns, set in a series of squares, all in one huge quadrant, with wide gravel avenues between them.

The designs depict Medieval crosses, all different. The structure of the potager gardens is created by using low closely cropped box hedging, that is in a constant process of clipping and replacement. Planted amongst these in symmetry are standard roses. These reputedly symbolise the monks who in Middle Ages would dig their squares.

Within the box borders a combination of flowers and vegetables are planted in concentrated bands of alternating colours, which together help create the magnificent vistas you can achieve by looking across the Potager Gardens.

To this day the Carvallo family are actively involved with the gardening team in the design and maintenance of this section. In the garden I could see bands of Chard, ornamental cabbages, beet root, tomatoes and pumpkins.

Time nearly up and a quick detour to the Garden Shop. This took 10 minutes, an all time record! Then out we rushed to the cafe to pick up a much needed diet cola.

One hour exactly. But what an hour!

You can see more about Villandry at www.chateauvillandry.com

For further information please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or at info@reallygardenproud.com

NEW driveway puts our project management to the test!

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Earlier this year we were invited to redesign a front garden in Tunbridge Wells. This included designing a new driveway, new raised beds, lawn areas, rockery, lighting and planting as well as moving the vehicle entranceway. And this all had to be designed, submitted for planning permission, approvals by Kent County Council and groundworks and planting completed for an important family occasion scheduled for April 2012!

NO PRESSURE!

Well I’m happy to say we took up the challenge and following a number of alternative design concepts settled on a treatment that would provide improved access to the house, greater levels of parking, privacy for the client and importantly enhance the presentation of the house. Because of its proximity to the kitchen the concept was subsequently developed to even include a potager garden that incorporated a whole host of fresh herbs to support the clients keen interest in cooking.

Tim Sykes, Gardenproud designer said. “This design doubled the size of the driveway, it improved access for vehicles, it created the opportunity for an enhanced planting scheme in front of the house, and it re-focused attention on the main entrance of the house. Given the planning constraints of moving crossovers it was pretty ambitious to achieve all this in the timescales. But our client was really helpful and keen to progress, so having received our approvals, and with the threat of severe weather we pressed on in March 2012, like mad!”

The old entrance was narrow and led to a parking area for just 2 cars.

Ground works began in March in ernest!

The new driveway shape was excavated, new soakaways and drainage installed and cabling for the new lighting was laid.

Things soon started to take shape with the bed and perimeter walls being erected.

A wider front entrance step was built to add stature and focus to the main doorway and provide a level base for planters.

With KCC approval we set about creating the new central entrance and crossover.

A beautiful new tarmac and flint impregnated driveway surface was laid.

Smart new oak entrance posts were fitted with lead copings and integral marker lights.

The lighting featured copper style fittings throughout, and sockets for trickle charge feeders for cars.

So having got everything in place we closed up the old driveway and pedestrian access points, then created new walls to match in with the existing pavement edging. The old driveway crossover was replaced by a new run of Tunbridge Wells brick pavers that reinstated the pedestrian pathway. New mature laurel bushes were planted in a dense formation to plug the gaps in the old hedge. You can’t see the join!

We then created a planting plan for the beds and new rockery area and got straight on with the ground preparation and planting…….

The potager garden starts to take shape with its combination of herbs, flowers and shrubs all set in a new rockery feature.

The two new front beds feature a number of key shrubs and perennials including Photinia (Red Robbin), Buxus (Box) Spirals, Pieris Japonica, Camelias, Box Balls, Dwarf Roses, Alliums and Peonies. The two planters feature Bay trees and lavender. It was just our luck half way through the project when SE Water announced their hosepipe ban! The watering cans came out. Then God stepped in and gave us plenty of rain! Thank you.

Suffice to say we finished the project with a week’s grace before the big family do!

So everybody was really pleased with the result, our project management, and that we and our grubby boots were nowhere to be seen!

Final comment from the client: “We are really delighted by the new front garden you have created.  It exceeds all our expectations.”

For further information about designing and landscaping your garden please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820.