Saturated with colour

Surrounding this Bedford town house are borders overflowing with a melee of cottage garden annuals and perennials, which are the handiwork of Reverend Chris Damp

Chris’s tips for informal planting

• Grow as many plants as you can from seed – I have hundreds of seedlings potted up in spring ready to squeeze into any gaps. I sell on my spares at garden openings or give them to friends.

• To create plant-packed borders, I squeeze plants together a bit closer than I should so that they all mingle tightly.

• Don’t worry about precision planting according to colour, height or form. Just pop them in and wait and see what happens. Nature has a way of creating a dazzling display however plants are placed.

• If something isn’t working, you can dig it out, cut it back or move it. My displays are a moveable feast and I swap things around at the end of the season. 

Four favourite ‘sunshine’ flowers
Click the images to learn more about these favourites…

Poet's inspiration

This small, secluded retreat centre set in the Cambridgeshire countryside is an unforgettable place of peace, quiet and beauty

Head Gardener Jane Page’s gardening tips:

  • Have your “coffee time” in the garden. Wander around and pinch out the growing tips of longer shoots on many shrubs to encourage sideshoots that give denser, better structure. Good ones include hebes, osmanthus, hollies and many more, but obviously not just before flowering!

  • When hardy geraniums start getting unruly, chop then right back, feed and water and they produce new foliage and more flowers.

  • Poorly performing roses can be moved when dormant and may do better in their new spot. Root prune damaged and overlong roots to encourage finer, feeding roots, add Rootgrow mycorrhizal fungi, feed, water – and hope.

  • Don’t Chelsea Chop overgrown and sprawling sedums, common when they’re grown in very fertile soil, but lift them with a spade, cut back any long roots and put them straight back.

Jane’s Floral Favourites

Click the images to learn why these plants are amongst Caroline’s favourites…

A precise urban haven

This well-manicured paradise in south London features dense formal planting with a ‘decidedly bouffant’ look!

Owner Caroline Annesley’s gardening tips:

  • Don't worry about doing things at the wrong time of year. I was comforted by Christopher Lloyd's view that it usually doesn't matter, so if you feel like it, do it.

  • Go out at night with a torch and get rid of slugs by cutting in half with secateurs – disgusting but effective and less disgusting than crushing them underfoot.

  • I believe in feeding the soil. Lots of organic matter helps break up the clay and improves drainage, especially in winter.

Caroline’s floral favourites 

Click the images to learn why these plants are amongst Caroline’s favourites…