The main reason for growing dogwoods in your garden is that they provide great winter interest with their colourful red, purple and yellow stems. To achieve this effect, they should be pruned in early spring. First of all take out all dead and diseased wood and any small and spindly growth. Then prune all the remaining healthy branches back to the first pair of healthy buds nearest to the base and then take out any crossing or twisting stems. The aim is to achieve a simple open structure to encourage colourful new stems to emerge the following winter.
The brief from the client was to re-design the border in the ‘Prairie’ style with grasses and other similar plants whilst keeping the existing dogwoods and the yew cone at the end of the border.
I chose three different grasses to plant in drifts throughout the border accompanied by Sanguisorba officianalis which has small dark red button like flowers above elegant leaves. Sesleria autumnalis (moor grass) is a bright green evergreen grass with silver grey flower spikes in the summer and was perfect for helping to define the edge of the border.
Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ is also evergreen with silvery, reddish-brown flower spikes appearing from early to late summer above dense mounds of slender, arching, mid-green leaves. The feathery flowers mature to a soft golden yellow and shimmer like a golden cloud as it catches the light and looked wonderful planted in front of the dogwoods. Finally Molinia caerulea ‘Moorhexe’ was planted in drifts through the centre of the border. With narrow, grey-green leaves that turn russet-red in autumn, this grass has a profusion of soft purple flowers which contrasted beautifully with the dark burgundy red of the Sanguisorba.
The brief was to redesign the whole garden to make it more streamline and lower maintenance. The central oval border in the front border was completely redesigned to create a summer flowering bee-friendly border planted with hardy geraniums, scabiosas, phlox, astrantias, asters and aquilegias, the existing narrow border by the path was removed, the whole area re-turfed and the gravel path edged with stone to define the border.
A small patio was designed for the back garden to catch the sun and the view and edged with a low lavender hedge. The narrow rose border was removed and the roses re-planted in the side border which was under planted with white cistus, nepeta and edged with hardy geraniums. The rest of the garden was re-turfed.
A new design combined the basic elements of plants, water, and rocks with simple, clean lines to create a tranquil retreat for the client. The existing trees were pruned and shaped to provide a more formal look and new planting included Azalea, Pieris japonica, Nandina domestica and Hostas.