Five tips for incorporating scent in your garden & Final Plant List for the Healing Power of Scent Border
Final Plant list for the Healing Power of Scent Border at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2019
The plants for our long border @RHSChatsworth were supplied by Binny Plants and Macplants.
#thehealingpowerofscent #therapeuticgardening #gardeningideas #scentinthegarden
#longborder #RHSChatsworthfkowershow #Trellis_Scotland #RestartProject1 @Trellis_Network
For me, it’s not just the sights and sounds in nature that offer me solace from everyday stresses, but also the smells around me too.
Getting my hands (and feet) in the soil whilst hearing the birds and bees singing and buzzing; the grasses and tree-leaves swaying in the breeze and seeing the beautiful colours, shapes and textures of the myriad plants in my garden bring a smile to my face and to my heart.
This is not surprising if we consider that people have evolved with plants and we tend to have positive psychological and physiological responses to them.
Many studies show that passive or active involvement with nature such as through gardening or viewing a natural setting can have a have a positive impact on physical and mental health. This is corroborated by the thousands of people who actively take part in therapeutic horticultural projects, such as The Restart Project* in Glasgow and others all around Scotland coordinated by Trellis*, as well as home gardeners alike.
Scent too can play a big role in this improved health and emotional well being. I feel an uplifting sense when I am stopped in my tracks by a powerful scent and generally feel relaxed when sitting among plants - whether in my garden or a park or enveloped by them in a woodland.
Sense of smell is linked to the limbic system of the brain - a primitive area - and the area that is responsible for instinct; it drives behaviour, memory and emotions. Inhaling rose oil vapour has positive effect on brain activity and has been shown to have anti-depressive and has a calming influence, helping to reduce fatigue, stress and exhaustion (Mohibitabar et al., 2017). Positive psychological and physiological effects have also been measured in people inhaling floral scent naturally diffused from flowers (Jo et al., 2013).
Given that scent is linked to memory, combining scent with a positive experience, such as gardening, could have an even more powerful effect, especially if it happens again and again. The memory of that event can even be recalled by that same scent at another time, providing longer lasting effects of the positive experience.
Gentle moving whilst being stimulated visually and non-visually through sound, taste, touch and scent of plants and the natural environment is good for us physically and mentally. The longer we can spend in a plant-filled environment, especially one that stimulates all our senses, including scent, the better our health and emotional well-being will be.
So what are you waiting for - get out in your garden, into a local park or woodland and experience plants and nature on all its levels.
HAPPY SPENDING TIME WITH PLANTS!
#thehealingpowerofscent #therapeuticgardening #scentinthegarden #gardeningideas #longborder #RHSChatsworth #mentalhealthawareness #Trellis_Scotland @Trellis_Network @RestartProject1
*We are working in association with TRELLIS, which is the hub of a network of over 420 therapeutic gardening projects throughout Scotland that use gardening to enable thousands of people facing multiple disadvantages to improve their health and wellbeing. Trellis endorse the general benefits to health of gardening. For more information, see https://www.trellisscotland.org.uk
*The Restart Project is an NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde therapeutic gardening project concerned with Mental Health Recovery in Glasgow. For more information, see The Restart Project
Mohebitabar et al. 2017. Therapeautic efficacy of rose oil: A comprehensive review of clinical evidence. Avicenna J. Phytomed. Vol. 7 (3): 206-213.
Jo et al. 2013. Physiological and Psychological Response to Floral Scent. HortScience Vol. 48 (1): 82-88
The Healing Power of Scent
I'm delighted to announce that we were selected to exhibit a long border at RHS Chatsworth from 05 to 09 June 2019! We will be working with Scottish nursery-people (Binny's Plants; https://www.binnyplants.com) and a local craftsman, Chris Barrowman (http://www.fluxworx.com) to create our exhibit.
As mental health issues affect many of us at one time or another in our lives, our border will highlight the importance of scent in emotional well- being. Smell directly influences our emotional responses, memories and physiology, driving our behaviour at an instinctive and subconscious level. Inhalation of plant extracts is known to have a positive effect on brain activity. Rose oil vapour in particular is thought to have anti-depressive, calming and uplifting properties, helping to reduce fatigue, stress and exhaustion.
Central to this border is the iconic rose. A strongly scented variety is planted in a pattern resembling a brain-wave. An abstract metal brain-wave sculpture symbolises the direct affect of scent on our brains and subsequently how we feel. Supporting the rose are plants that stimulate other senses such as touch (foliage texture, especially grasses), sight (colour and aesthetics) and sound (rustling foliage and pollinators attracted to the flowers). These stimuli work together to create a positive interaction with plants and nature.
The Rose is just one of many scented plants that can be incorporated into our gardens. In addition to the enjoyment such fragrance brings is the potential to harness the power of smell to improve our emotional well-being.
We are delighted to have been awarded the Best of Houzz 2019 Customer Service award. Our commitment to our clients has always been to meet their needs, create a beautiful garden that they can enjoy for many years to come and to guide them through the design and build process. We also love to revisit the garden in the following months and years to ensure continued enjoyment and offer advice when requested.
So we are over the moon that our customer service has stood out among more than 2.1 million active home building, renovating and design industry professionals on Houzz®, the leading platform for home renovation and design, and was selected by more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community.
"Best of Houzz is a true badge of honor as it is awarded by our community of homeowners, those who are hiring design, renovation and other home improvement professionals for their projects,” said Marcus Hartwall, Managing Director of Houzz UK and Ireland. “We are excited to celebrate the 2019 winners chosen by our community as their favorites for home design and customer experience, and to highlight those winners on the Houzz website and app."
Creating planting schemes that are sustainable is a goal we should all strive for, allowing our plants to cope with extremes of weather. However, newly planted plants even if carefully selected to withstand some drought will struggle in the first year if they are not watered during times of dry weather, especially if it is windy - a bad combination for plants and one that we in the West of Scotland have experienced over the last month. The wind in particular will strip water from the plant and as they have not yet established their root system at the same time as drying the surface of any bare soil.
So how can you help your new plants get established?
(1) WATER. Do not let the water levels in the soil around your newly planted plants get too dry. First, water them in on planting and then give your newly plants a good soaking once a week during dry weather, especially if it is also windy to prevent the plants getting stressed.
Apart from preventing immediate stress, watering will also help the plants to establish a good root system, encouraging them to send their roots deep. In the long-run, it will be these deep roots that will help bring your sustainable planting scheme to fruition. Conversely, light watering will only encourage surface roots, which will leave your plants susceptible to drought in the future.
When watering, use a hose or watering can to apply the water directly to the base of the plant.
(2) MULCH. Add a thick (at least 5 cm) mulch of compost, composted bark or gravel, depending on your scheme, to keep the water in and protect the bare soil from drying out.
(3) REMOVE UNWANTED PLANTS aka WEEDS. Borders prepared well and mulched directly after planting should mean that weeds and therefore weeding will not be an arduous task. However, perennial weeds in particular can still pop up from a small bit of root that is easily missed. Weeds are naturally plants and will use available water. By removing them, you are not wasting any water on the growth of the wrong plants!
Taking care with your newly planted borders during the first year especially will reap rewards in years to come.
How to establish plants in containers
Containers are not really a sustainable method of planting, but they can add to a design if you are prepared to look after the plants. Watering, mulching and weeding should all be applied to plants in containers, whether newly planted or otherwise. They will likely need daily watering, depending on the size of the container, to stop them drying out during dry weather, especially if windy. Using large sized containers hold larger volumes of compost-enriched soil that will take longer to dry out.
Grouping containers can increase humidity levels between them reducing the need for watering. Mulching the top of the soil in the containers with a thick layer of composted bark or gravel will also reduce evaporation from the soil surface and keep roots near the surface cooler, reducing stress. It will also minimise weed germination allowing any available water to go to the plants you want.
The days are lengthening and there is some warmth to the sun (when it shows it’s face) and some of the earlier flowering herbaceous perennials are poking their heads above ground level! It won’t be long before growth is rampant and we’d wished we had added supports to our plants! So, before that happens, I suggest using plant supports for those plants you want to keep upright or at least not completely blocking pathways and flopping over lawns causing the grass to dieback. However, before you reach for the bamboo canes and chicken wire or string, consider that plant supports should be beautiful so they add to the design of your garden, not detract from it.
There are a variety of plant supports out there to buy - some made from metal with a variety of finishes - black, galvanised that go rusty, green; others from recycled or natural materials; Some are quite ornate, others simple in design. All of which are far more appealing than the age old bamboo canes and chicken-wire, which unless you have a very large herbaceous perennial border hidden from view of the house, you might want to avoid.
Metal plant supports will last longer than natural materials and the more ornate ones can add a certain elegance to the garden both in winter and before they get completely smothered by plants. Recycled materials, such as old metal fences or bicycle wheels add a certain creativity to your borders before the plants are in fully growth.
For those of you who prefer more sustainable, natural materials, Obelisks, which are useful for climbing plants, and plant supports made from willow are a lovely addition to your garden. There a number of willow suppliers in Scotland (see below for link) and the UK as a whole, some of whom make willow structures.
I met Rob Eves, a lovely supplier of willow and willow structures in Edinburgh last weekend. He makes Willow obelisks among other living willow structures to order for a very reasonable price. Alternatively, you could have a go at making your own either on a course or DIY. Try using instructions such as those from Gardeners World or the BBC Gardening Blog (see links below) (see), though you could substitute the bamboo canes for the local and more sustainable willow of similar thickness, just add tape over the end you intend on pushing in the soil to stop it from rooting or use hazel or dried willow for the straight supports.
And then there are pea sticks, useful for lower growing herbaceous perennials, such as Astrantia, Nepeta etc. Just push some branches taken from winter pruning of trees into the soil, interlocking the twiggy growth. Not only will these structures provide support for the plant for the season ahead, depending on their design, they may also provide some protection from animals or the odd football!
Whatever plant support option you choose, they will be covered in no time with lovely fresh foliage, giving the appearance that your plants are exceptionally well behaved!
Willow suppliers in Scotland: https://willowscotland.wordpress.com/willow-growers/
Guidance for DIY Willow supports:
BBC Gardening Blog http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/gardening/2011/04/supports-for-herbaceous-plants.shtml
Gardeners World http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/diy/how-to-make-willow-plant-supports/
More information about Pea stick plant supports: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardeningadvice/7803592/Pea-sticks-the-best-support-for-your-plants.html
When I ask people to describe fruit trees in a garden, they invariably go on to describe an orchard where fruit trees are growing in meadows of naturalised bulbs in spring and wildflowers and grasses in summer. But many of us do not have space for one standard size fruit tree, let alone an entire orchard!
However, all is not lost. We do not need to banish our dreams of fruit from our own gardens - even for those of us who have small gardens - thanks to the ancient craft of fruit tree training.
The answer is creative pruning of fruit trees
Espaliers, stepovers, fans and cordons are all traditional forms of fruit tree training. But one only need visit some of our national gardens, such as RHS Wisely in Surrey, West Dean in West Sussex, as well as browse the internet to see that the forms of trained fruit tree varies as much as their names: from a Parisian goblet to the lattice design of Belgian Fence. It is clear that your imagination is the limit to the shapes and forms of fruit tree can take - and all are suitable for small gardens!
Trained fruit trees add structure
Cordon apples and pears can create a living pergola; an espaliered or similarly pruned apple tree growing on a decorative metal or wooden support and a fan-trained plum tree grown against a south- or west-facing wall can all add height, interest and structure year round.
As an alternative to a trellis screen, the diamond-shaped gaps of a fruit tree trained as a Belgian fence or the horizontal gaps of a 4-tier espalier let both light and air to freely circulate; perfect for sub-dividing a small garden and giving the illusion of space. Such a living screen could mask a utility area, for example and wall-trained trees could add a focal point or soften the house, connecting it to the garden. And then there is of course in all cases, the seasonal, home-grown fruit to be enjoyed.
Whilst I have focused on top fruit, training is not limited to these trees. Red- and white-currants and gooseberries can also be trained allowing a variety of soft-fruit to be grown in a small space whilst clothing fences and walls. They can also act as lower screens when grown on decorative supports.
Training your own
There are practical reasons for training other than restricting size if space is limited - that is to improve the ease of picking and, techniques that were developed over thousands of years, to provide a maximum yield in the minimium time and/ or to ensure an even yield of fruit season on season. Of course, on the West Coast of Scotland where the season is shorter, exposing fruit to sunlight through training the tree can assist ripening.
Apples, pears, plums, quinces etc. are trained whilst young, called formative pruning, to provide the framework that goes onto bear the fruit for tens if not hundreds of years, if a regenerative pruning routine is maintained after the formative period.
There are a number of good books that describe using images and diagrams how to prune a young fruit tree and soft fruit shrub into espaliers, step overs, fans, and cordons. I have listed one below. (Note that some forms are better for certain fruit tree species than others, such as plum trees are best trained as a fan rather than as an espalier or cordon).
The Royal Horticultural Society Pruning by Christopher Brickell
For more creative forms, you will see that the underlying framework is based on the formative pruning of an espalier or a cordon.
So what are you waiting for..... now is a great time to start your new fruit tree off, so let those creative juices flow and you will be rewarded with structure, interest and an abundance of fruit in years to come!
Well 2016 has been a turbulent, unsettling year with Brexit and the US elections, so as we turn our attention to the New Year, we are perhaps looking for a more relaxing, calming 2017. Somewhat insightful, is the on-trend colour for 2017: ‘Greenery’ for the home.
According to Leatrice Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute, the colour Greenery was chosen “to provide reassurance amid tumultuous political and social environment” and “to satisfy our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalise; Greenery symbolises the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose”.
As a garden designer, I completely agree with this assessment. Although often overlooked as a fantastic source of nature, our gardens are pockets of nature on our doorstep. I certainly find that I feel revitalised and connected to nature when I have spent time amongst ‘Greenery’ in the garden, no matter how big or small, just as long as it is full of plants. And as for relationships, these for me are much deeper when developed in the outdoors.
So, if greenery is the must-have colour for 2017 and you’re in need of some mental rest and recuperation, I suggest turning to your garden. By careful designing, your garden can provide that essential greenery year-round that lifts the spirits along with highlights that give seasonal interest. And if you’re not into painting a wall in your home or piece of furniture green, your garden can provide that essential outdoors-in feel via views out to the greenery in your garden and even provide cuttings to lavishly fill vases - giving that highlight of green in your home too.
So set forth in 2017 with a spring in your step and head to your garden and fill it with wonderful plants!
Now is the time to be planning and planting for next Autumn! I realise that we are barely out of this year's autumn, but if we do not act now, the vibrant autumn show will fade from our minds as winter sets in.
We've had a lovely autumn - the weather has been mostly dry and relatively warm for the time of the year. And with it the vibrant autumn foliage combined with colourful fruits, striking bark and show stopping flowers of late flowering shrubs and herbaceous perennials has certainly grabbed my attention. A last hoorah before the silent, sleepy starkness of winter beholds us.
So here are a few trees and shrubs you might consider planting as you plan for a future autumn.
Of course, you cannot go wrong with an Acer and there are many to choose from that suit different sized gardens. Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku' is a small tree that has year-round interest, so perfectly suited to a small garden where every plant has to earn its keep. Pale green-tinged pink leaves in spring, mature green before turning butter yellow with red margins in autumn. And if that is not enough, the annual growth is a vibrant coral red, that sings in winter after the leaves have dropped.
Plant the Acer so that it is back lit with the seductive, low winter sun and combine with an evergreen grassy ground cover, such as Carex divsula or Hakonechloa macra. Other plants that will combine well with the acer include Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight', which will give you flowers and then the flowerhead in later summer going into autumn and winter, depending on your conditions. Neat Ilex crenata mounds will contrast with the loose structure of the acer and the shutlecock-shape of the semi-evergreen Dryopteris eythrosora, whose crosiers unfurl with pinky-copper-tones that will combine well with the young foliage of the acer.
Though lost relatively early, the buttery-yellow autumn leaves of Birch add to the rich autumnal tapestry of our landscapes. And the beauty of birch is the year-round appeal that these trees offer. The colouring of the bark, which often peels freely, can range from stark white of the often overused Betula utilis var. jaquemontii to a white with pinky-hues of Betula albosinensis and even a chestnut brown of Betula utilis 'Bhutan Sienna'. The annual growth of our native Betula pendula can have purple hues especially when viewed from a distance, en-masse.
All combine well with dogwoods that are regularly coppiced to give vibrant coloured winter stems, heathers, and a grassy evergreen ground, such as Hakonechloa macra. But if you don't want to do the cliche winter planting, Betula sp. grown as a multi-stem tree would work well in a herbaceous perennials and grass border, providing the all important structure and winter-interest.
Other trees and shrubs good for autumn include:
Rhododendron luteum, Aronia melanocarpa (or the hybrid Aronia x prunifolia 'Viking'), and Amelanchier lamarckii, which all have vibrant yellow, orange, red autumn colouring of their foliage. The edible blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum 'Duke' has particularly striking autumn red colouring to its leaves. All these shrubs have more than one season of interest: spring foliage colouring, flowers (R. luteum flowers are scented too), berries, and scent.
Whilst the autumnal foliage is the first to catch our eye, colourful autumn fruits and striking bark and stems all contribute to that last hoorah before the quiet season of winter is upon us.
People are often worried about having deep borders because that means more planting. Some come to me because they do not have the first clue about plants, especially how to look after them, so they initially shy away from lots of planting. However, my experience has been that these same people by the time we have worked through the design process together, they have taken a shine to their new garden and are really bonding with their plants. Some even help with the planting!
So, I say, bigger is better when it comes to borders. Deeper borders give plants the space to breathe and to show themselves in their best light. You only have to look at the borders in various country gardens to see how this works to best effect. Deep borders give impact to your garden through planting in swathes or layering so that you have successional flowering and interest all year.
So how deep is deep? A border should be at least 1.5 m depth. Any less and the plants will be in a single line. Think of a plant, say Astrantia, which has a spread of 60 cm and you want to put another plant behind that has similar spread - that’s the depth of the border almost full. But you don’t have to limit yourself to 1.5 m deep!
So what are you waiting for? Now is a great time to expand your existing borders and create new ones - just remember, be generous and you’ll be florally rewarded!