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Country Garden Ideas

Classic planting
For a classic summer-in-the-country planting, pack your garden beds with white cosmos, blue geraniums, catmint, salvias and yellow alchemilla, heleniums and coreopsis. For the darker notes, try Penstemon Burgundy, Astrantia major ‘Claret’, Digitalis ‘Milk Chocolate’ and Verbena bonariensis. Complete the look with English Climbing roses, such as The Pilgrim Climbing, which has a delicious tea and myrrh fragrance and repeat-flowers well.

Staddle stones in the long grass
Let Nature take her own course, especially at the edges of your garden. Leave the grass to grow long during the summer months, and enjoy the sight of what we now regard as weeds but which are beloved by pollinating insects, as they grow up and flower. Here, an arrangement of staddle stones stands in the shade, amid common or meadow buttercups (a member of the Ranunculus family) and cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris, also known as wild chervil or keck) mingling with cowslips (Primula veris) and splashes of forget-me-nots. Cut back after the seeds have set, to ensure a repeat performance next summer. Grasses and plants such as these need light so later this autumn/winter, make sure you prune back any trees or shrubs so the area can enjoy the sunshine next year.

Garden gate
Tempt, tease or simply please passers-by with the planting that surrounds your garden gate. Climbing and rambling plants with a scent will instantly attract the eye and the nose — here, an old-fashioned rose and a vine share the brick wall — while bushy-fronded plants of varying heights can sway in the breeze, adding sound to the mix. As seen here, fennel is a beautiful border plant and is an ideal herb to position near the garden gate; a natural digestive and breath sweetener, simply nip off a leaf or two and enjoy the delicate taste.

Time to relax
Make the most of a veranda, arbour or spreading apple tree, if you have one, and set out your daybed to enjoy when the sun shines. Be unashamedly romantic and cover it with flower-strewn covers, cushions and bolsters.

Lupins and peonies
Country gardens are essentially all about swathes of bold colour and lots of foliage rolling out all over the path, and two of the quintessential plants are lupins (Lupinus) and peonies (Paonia). Mix imperial purples and magenta pinks with candy floss whites and sherbert yellows and let them take over the plot.

Grow your own
In good country fashion, the clock has turned full circle and the vegetable plot and growing food for ourselves have been restored to their positions of importance in any garden. Choose between a traditional vegetable garden, with food crops laid out in simple rows, or something more along the lines of the garden shown here, a potager, that is a combination of vegetables and herbs interplanted with flowers for the home and for decoration, and the whole laid out as a beautiful garden whilst at the same time being practical to maintain.

Down beside the stream
Let Nature be your inspiration when planting up a water feature in a country garden. Primulas love damp conditions so are very well suited to waterside planting, as seen here (the primrose-polyanthus Primula pulverulenta). Other wetland plants to try include Iris sibirica and Rheum palmatum (Chinese rhubarb), and a soft rush called Juncus effuses. For advice on creating a wetland feature in your garden, visit the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Time to mow
Cut a new path through the long grass and steer family and visitors around the garden in a different direction; you will be amazed at how such a simple action will help you see your garden in a different light. Cut your lawn on a dry day, and to fertilise it naturally, leave the cuttings to rot back into the soil; if you want to encourage a wildflower meadow, do the reverse and clear away the cuttings instantly; wildflowers will not flourish in fertilised soil.

Potted pleasures
Having said that riotous colour is a given in country gardens, colour themeing is just as effective. There is a natural purity, an appealing simplicity about white flowers growing against old brick, knapped flint or ageing wood. Be inspired by the historic white gardens at Sissinghurst, Kent, and Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, and Sarah Raven’s contemporary creation at Perch Hill. Shown here are pots of Campanula isophylla ‘Alba’, miniature white roses and marguerites.

Hosta path
Lush and fragrant (the flowers of a good number of varieties have a delicious scent), a hosta-lined path or bed would never feel out of place in a country garden. Plant the crowns in spring, in full or partial shade and soil that is well-drained but never dry. To find out more about these glorious plants.

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