What’s your garden style? Guest post from Planting Gems

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A well thought-out, carefully planted garden should reflect a style. Whether your preference is for clashing colours, or for cool, calm shades of green, it is worth considering how you can unify your garden to give it a designed, stylish appearance. As the Chelsea Flower Show season approaches, and the number of gardening, broadcasting hours increase, there is plenty of opportunity to get inspiration.
So, firstly decide if you want a Contemporary look, which generally means a restricted palate of different plants; one colour with green, often white/lime-green; a focus on structure and evergreen foliage that will look good all year round. This usually formal, minimalist style is often favoured for a front garden or a small garden where there is not enough space to have different parts of the garden reaching their peak at different times of the year, and where there is often a good deal of shade. A Japanese style of planting is an extension of this structural, evergreen look, with plants such as Acers, bamboos, rhododendrons and phormiums playing a key role, often with water, boulders or stone features.
Alternatively, there is the Cottage Garden look, with lots of traditional plants such as roses and geraniums, with lots of colour and flowers in the Summer but with a larger focus on herbaceous perennials and annuals, leaving barer beds in the winter. This style embraces climbers (on obelisks or walls/fences) and tends to be relaxed and good for wildlife. A Mediterranean style suits a dry, sunny site, with boulders or pebbles incorporated into the scheme, and usually involves plants with glaucous foliage such as Cistus, Hebe, Sedums and Olive. A Naturalistic, Prairie style of planting incorporates lots of grasses and summer flowering perennials that blend well together and move in the wind and that are planted in swathes. There is also Woodland planting, ideal for a shady corner or under trees and shrubs, that tends to reach its peak in the Spring before the trees come into leaf, with early flowering shrubs and bulbs, ferns and shade tolerant plants.  An Exotic style would embrace tropical-looking plants, with large shiny leaves, such as Fatsias or Hostas, and with spiky foliage like Phormiums or Cordylines. Palms and Tree Ferns can be incorporated into such a scheme, and there is an emphasis on different coloured foliage and texture rather than flowers. Protection may be needed for some plants in the winter.
Of course all rules are there to be broken and it would be a rare garden that resolutely stuck to one style. Imposters have a habit of creeping in, because you received a gift or took a fancy to a plant in a garden centre or at a plant fair. But in general, it is good to have an underlying understanding of what look your garden is trying to achieve.
So does your garden have a style?
Anne Fraser and Caroline Streets
Planting Gems
07729 835988 and 07930 876348

Be brave & audacious! says interior designer Josephine Lecoufle-Vinet

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Just a week to go before becoming interior design gurus at our next talk, Interior Designer Josephine Lecoufle-Vinet

Cat: What influenced you to become an interior designer?

Josephine: Definitely my dad.  He doesn’t know it but he taught me the love of beautiful pieces and how they could be enhanced thanks to elegant arrangement.  All my childhood, I’ve lived in amazing houses packed with character and filled with great pieces.  So when I decided on a career change, interior design was the obvious choice.

pic of Josephine

Cat:  What do you love about your job?

Josephine: Everything!  I hate plain and unimaginative rooms,  I think living in a kind of showroom where everything is grey, sleek and soulless is the worst.  I love real homes, cosy and witty.

Cat: Are there any design tricks busy mums can quickly apply to make a big impact in the rooms in their houses?

Josephine: Be brave and audacious!  Don’t be afraid to add a pinch of humour to your interior.  Whether you add a bright colour, a funky wallpaper or an original piece of furniture, you’ll see the difference it makes.  Although the difficulty is knowing when to stop!

Cat: Sorting Self is all about finding a bit of me time for busy mums, how do you spend your free time?

Josephine: Free time… I feel like I don’t have free time to be honest.  I invest myself so much in everything I do, my mind is always in effervescence!  That is the downside of this area, we can’t really switch off anymore!

Cat: Josephine, come along to some more of our talks for a bit of downtime, there’s a great programme coming up of more relaxing topics such as personal style or mindfulness.

For more on Josephine visit: