Features Add X Factor

Hello Gardeners,

We are certainly having a challenging spring (weather wise) at the moment. I bet the plants in your garden will certainly be finding it challenging, with the continual wind and very little rainfall lately... I know our own garden has been needing extra irrigation to keep the plants looking healthy and actively growing.

I often get asked by my clients, how much water should I give my plants? It depends on wind and how hot it is during the day, but in the heat of the summer over December to March, if you can give your gardens a thorough soaking 2 x over 7 days, then this should be enough moisture to keep everything looking in top condition and actively growing. Obviously most plants will survive on a lot less than this, but they wont grow so fast either so if you have a brand new garden - and you want your plants to grow as fast as possible - then I recommend you be generous with giving them water, if you possibly can. Mulching your gardens will certainly help to reduce the amount of watering needed, because it helps to reduce evaporation from the soil and also keep weeds away.

Today I want to talk about adding the X factor to a garden through either sculptures and/or feature plants. On our recent trip through gardens in the UK and Europe, we regularly saw in gardens the inclusion of a large pot/urn, piece of garden sculpture, or a plant that had been trained into a special feature. Any of these will add another dimension to the garden.

Whichever option you select for your garden, make sure the size and dimensions fit in with the overall shape and size of the garden. If you have a bigger sized garden then select a bigger sized feature, then it wont get lost in amongst everything else and your feature should add real impact to the garden.

The great big urns and pots used to be so damn heavy that you virtually needed a tractor to lift them! Well that has all changed now, because you can get real large urns and pots made of fibre cement - very strong and light - which makes them so much more manageable to getting them in position. My wife Val and I, two years ago, put a stone Balinese water feature into our garden. It was ever so heavy that we needed a tractor just to lift it off the ground and into position. Plus we had to cement it in place so that it didn't fall over and crush someone. Recently I saw an exact replica of this water feature made of glass fibre cement. It looked 100% like our stone version, except the real bonus was that I could pick it up with one hand.

After your urn or pot is in position in the garden, plant around the base of the feature, to soften the overall look and make the garden look like it fully compliments the addition of the feature.

If you would rather add a living plant sculpture as your garden feature, then there are some really good options available these days.

We saw at the Chelsea Flower Show some really amazing plants trained into sculptures. Some of them up to four metres high and well over 50 years old. In my landscape designs I love to use plants with the X factor or have been trained in such a way that the plant really adds a bit of class to the garden.

In the above photo taken at the Rukuhia Homestead, you can see good use of a large urn as a feature in this garden and its under planted with TRACHELOSPERMUM JASMINOIDES - Star Jasmine (trained as a ground cover) which softly trails itself around the base of the urn.

Also in the same garden are 3 x feature specimens of JUNIPERUS KAIZUKA (hollywood juniper) topiary trained into ball shapes on the end of each branch. There are three of these feature trees in this garden, each about 2.5 metres tall and they tower above the surrounding BURGANDY ICEBERG ROSES, DELPHINIUMS and ARGYRANTHEMUM POLLY (white compact daisy).

Whatever feature you decide on, try and bring lighting to it so that at night your garden feature continues to show itself off to your guests. Outdoor lighting is very affordable these days and with more LED lighting becoming the norm, it's very safe and easy to install.

Happy Gardening


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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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