Winter scene of seed heads and grasses. Veronicastrum virginicum, Sanguisorba 'Red Thunder', Selinum and Miscanthus 'Kleine Silberspinne'

Winter Wonderland – It’s not all about the flower

Winter scene of seed heads and grasses. Veronicastrum virginicum, Sanguisorba 'Red Thunder', Selinum and Miscanthus 'Kleine Silberspinne'

Think twice about cutting back your faded flower heads in autumn

The summer blooms might feel like a distant memory but it isn’t just about the flower; so you might want to think twice before getting out the loppers.

In our opinion there are many herbaceous plants and grasses that deserve to remain in the garden over the winter; there is nothing worse than staring at large patches of barren earth and longingly awaiting for the return of spring.
Waking up on a frosty morning or after the first snow has fallen, to witness the intricate network of Sanguisorba ‘Red Thunder’ seed heads twinkling in Arctic sunshine or the majestic flower heads of ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus ‘Kleine Silberspinne’ or Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ shimmering in a wintry breeze; can truly lift the spirits.
They are fantastic specimen plants and all add an invaluable dimension into what could be a bleak winter scene.
Other worthy plants for winter interest include, Veronicastrum virginicum for their
dramatic and majestic towering spires and Dipsacus fullonum (Teasel).
The Teasel is a magnificent, statuesque addition to the back of a border and is loved by bees when in flower and is invaluable winter fodder for seed loving birds.
Many plants have a lot to offer when they’ve past their blooming best and it’s always good to remind yourself that the beauty of a plant isn’t always about the flower.

Home and Garden magazines front cover September 2016 issue and page featuring Landspace design's award winning Priory road's bespoke children's den, designed and built by Landspace.

Homes and Gardens September, 2016 Issue – Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

Garden Details – Cabin Fever by Zia Allaway


Landspace were thrilled to be included in an article by Zia Allaway entitled ‘Cabin Fever’.
Published in Homes and Garden’s September issue the topic of conversation was garden retreats.
The retreat in question being the bespoke children’s play den which Landspace designed and built for the
APL award winning project Priory Road.
There are lots of children’s play dens and equipment to choose from but finding one that neatly fits
into the overall design is a lot more challanging. For this project the only solution was to design and build a den from scratch.
Priory Road was a small garden so it was crucial to maximize all the space available.
The clients wanted to have a den that was multi-functional. It needed to be a special retreat for their
children, a place that they could camp out with friends but without compromising the overall aesthetics of the garden design. It had to work both architecturally and practically.
Priory Road was a fun project to work on and the clients were lovely.

Clay pavers Garden design Chelsea 2008

Garden Design Trends For 2016

Clay pavers - Chelsea 2008

Part 1. The trend is in the detail

Hear the word trend and it starts to sound expensive – right? But, to be on trend doesn’t mean you have to take out a loan to achieve it. It’s all in the small details.
However, whilst some garden trends are keepers, thankfully others aren’t adverse to change (remember bell bottoms?) I rest my case.
Ok, for an example: over the past few years the garden designers at Landspace have noticed a strong trend for the buzzword ‘sustainable’. Clients have been genuinely interested in using sustainable products and there has been a defining increase in the trend to design gardens that are sustainable, ethical and that will attract wildlife into their outdoor spaces. Clients are choosing trees and plants that support the local wildlife and for those that have children – areas of the garden to educate them about the natural world. Keen for their little ones to have hands on experience there has been a notable increase for the request for raised beds for growing home produced fruit and vegetables. This in our opinion is a keeper.
Trends that we would happily see the back of are masses of amenity style concrete paving and being asked for no maintenance planting. This we place in the – not adverse to change category.

So, what other trends do the designers at Landspace predict for 2016?

Continuing the sustainable theme, the collective feedback from the design department is Kebony. Although there is a general trend away from decking, when it is a ‘must have’ for the design, Kebony is our wood of choice. Why are we championing this wood? Well, that’s easy to answer. Developed in Norway, Kebony is a softwood that has been treated to behave like a hardwood. The process is completely eco-friendly and the wood has been given the Nordic Swan Eco-label by the Nordic council of ministers. The transformation process of turning softwood into hardwood is completely non-toxic and the resulting Kebony is not toxic to humans. It is not known to splinter like hardwoods and is often selected for use as Kindergarten decking. The wood starts off with a deep brown colour that turns to an attractive silver-grey patina over time.
All the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests and carries the FSC® certification. Saving the hardwood forests of the world from unsustainable logging is a ‘no brainer’.
Other trends predicted include; monochromatic colour planting schemes, painted fences and boundaries and the use of traditional clay pavers to replace concrete and stone.

Why the landscape designers at Landspace are championing clay pavers.

Clay pavers have been creeping into the Chelsea flower show for many years. Tom Stuart-Smith and Cleve West both created award winning gardens using clay pavers. But it is only in recent years that this resurgence has found its way into the domestic garden.
Clay pavers look (in our opinion) both stylish and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. As a product they are very versatile and look equally at home in a stylized ‘contemporary’ garden as they do in an informal cottage ‘arts and crafts’ style garden.
The use of clay pavers is far more environmentally friendly than vast areas of paving slabs. It is also relatively easy to establish shallow rooting, creeping plants to grow in between the laid pavers. In a sunny aspect try growing plants such as: Thymus serpyllum, Thymus pseudolanuginosus or Thymus ‘Doone Valley’. You could also try growing alpine strawberries, (Fragaria vesca).

Fallopia japonica-flowering

We need to talk about Knotweed.

We recently went to visit a property near Highgate. The client had just purchased it – at what appeared to be a very good price. They had bought the house as a renovation project and had asked us to design and build a garden for them. Unfortunately, it was during the site visit that we discovered Japanese Knotweed.

This is not only a homeowner’s worst nightmare but it becomes even more problematic when the offending plant has originated from the garden next door. Unfortunately, as a responsible garden design and build company we will not be able to carry out any landscaping that entails the removal of Knotweed contaminated soil.

We can however, design you a beautiful space in readiness for when your garden is declared Knotweed free.

Japanese Knotweed – a brief history

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) as the name suggests originates from Japan. It was brought to the UK by the enthusiastic plant finders of the Victorian era. They naively brought it back to the UK to plant in their gardens based purely on its cosmetic appeal. They had little understanding of just how much of a nuisance this innocent looking plant would become in the forthcoming centuries.

Japanese knotweed-red stems
It has been purported that there is not a six-mile square area that is Knotweed free.
It has been described by the RHS as a thug.

The plant is so tough and determined that it finds no problem ripping up tarmac and penetrating flooring in houses.

In its native countries such as, Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea the plant is kept under control in a natural eco-system by its many pests and diseases but in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world there are no predators and the plant is free to roam without being impeded.

How do I get rid of Japanese Knotweed from my garden? Can I get rid of it myself?

The plant spreads indefinitely on one root system. What this means is that it sends out runners underground that spring up all over the garden. It is so tough and resilient that it can withstand being hacked at with an axe, being set fire to and being doused in herbicide. It is so invasive that it can grow 10 cm per day and it only takes a slither of the plant stuck to the bottom of a boot to be inadvertently introduced to a new area.

It is such a problem that the Environmental Agency has put a control order on this plant.

It is not illegal to have Knotweed on your land or in your garden but it is a criminal offence to allow it to grow onto other people’s property and you could be prosecuted for causing a private nuisance.

Japanese knotweed is classified as a harmful and invasive weed.

Fallopia japonica-flowering

Yes, in theory, you can treat the Knotweed yourself and there are a few ways to approach this. Non-biological controls of digging out can be employed but this is a laborious task. The roots of Knotweed can penetrate to depths of at least two metres and making sure you remove all the pieces is almost impossible.

If you leave even the slightest sliver then the plant will grow back. This method also creates a problem with regard to disposal. Knotweed is classified as a controlled waste. This means that you have to use a specialist contractor who is licensed to remove and transport hazardous waste to an authorized landfill site.

It is important to bear in mind that wrongful disposal of Knotweed not only incurs hefty fines but could also see you facing up to 2 years in prison.

For further information check out:

I have heard that having Knotweed in your garden puts mortgage providers off lending money. Is this really true?

Yes, unfortunately this is the case but not all is doom and gloom.

Now that mortgage lenders are more educated on the subject the panic has subdued a little. However, if they are going to lend to you they will require a plan of action and detailed assurances that you will be employing a specialist contractor to eradicate the problem. They are aware that the removal of Knotweed takes at least 3 years.

Also be aware that if a valuer carrying out a valuation on behalf of a mortgage lender discovers Knotweed in your garden, then they are obliged to include this in the report.

Finding Knotweed in yours or in a neighbour’s garden can have a substantial effect on the price of your property. Some lenders will automatically refuse to lend money on the discovery of Knotweed. Others will lend but will want to see a treatment plan or management plan in place. They will also request to see an insurance-backed guarantee.

Let’s end on a positive note.

Scientific researchers have spent the past 5 years carefully studying Knotweed’s many pests and diseases and have narrowed it down to the pest Alphalara itadori.

Researchers for CABI, (a not for profit international research body specializing in agriculture and the environment) announced that Alphalara itadori successfully survived through the British winter. They have been studying the insect very closely at its test sites across the UK. They are extremely hopeful that it will be available for general release as a natural biological control for this nuisance plant.