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English coun­try gardens are all about flow­ers and colours in abun­dance. Here Jackie French shows you how to cre­ate one in your back­yard.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

cre­ate your own English coun­try gar­den

When you think “English gar­den” it’s usu­ally a classic cot­tage or court­yard gar­den, or the rolling lawns, sculpted trees and or­na­men­tal lakes and foun­tains of a stately home. Most of us may never man­age a Pem­ber­leystyle es­tate, com­plete with Mr Darcy, but with care all of us can have the massed flower and dap­pled leaves of the classic English coun­try gar­den.

1 Add wa­ter. Even if yours falls reg­u­larly from the sky, New Zealand eva­po­ra­tion rates are higher than the UK’s. Ei­ther hose in the evening or in­stall drip­pers.

You might also like to con­sider a wa­ter re­cy­cling sys­tem.

2 Plant groves or lines of de­cid­u­ous trees to dap­ple strong New Zealand light. Small, neat crab ap­ple va­ri­eties like the NZ-bred “Gor­geous” will give you stun­ning blos­som and fab­u­lous au­tumn colour, but let enough sun­light through for plant­ings be­low.

3 Cre­ate wind­breaks. Many UK gardens sur­vive be­cause they’re shel­tered by stone walls, hedges or trees. A num­ber of classic English gardens are within court­yards or sunken be­low their sur­rounds to cre­ate a calm, shel­tered en­vi­ron­ment. Our winds can be hot and dry rather than cold, wet bl­iz­zards. Cover gar­den walls with wis­te­ria, ram­bling roses, clema­tis, Bos­ton ivy or Vir­ginia creeper and hon­ey­suck­les.

4 Plant roses and camel­lias. Lots. Look for hardy NZ-bred rose va­ri­eties that like the local con­di­tions and won’t get black spot, or the al­most as hardy David Austin English ones that have an old-fash­ioned look and fra­grance. Hy­brid musks, such as Buff Beauty, Feli­cia, Pene­lope or Cor­nelia, are both hardy and fra­grant.

Roses will bloom in spring, sum­mer and au­tumn; camel­lias au­tumn to spring, if you choose the right va­ri­eties.

5

Go peren­nial. Choose a back­ground of blooms that will flower every year, some for each sea­son: Ja­panese anemones for au­tumn, Shasta daisies, day lilies and dahlias for sum­mer, helle­bores for win­ter and spring (look for the new deep red and multi-coloured va­ri­eties with tall brighter blooms), hol­ly­hocks or del­phini­ums for spring. Salvias and agas­tache all year round and lots of true gera­ni­ums to fill in odd gaps. Ask your nurs­ery what does best in your area. 6

Bulbs. Many bulbs won’t cre­ate blooms un­less you have frosty win­ters and not too-hot sum­mers, un­less you dig them up each year and pop them in the fridge for six weeks. Try more tol­er­ant tritelias, ner­ines and fra­grant freesias un­der de­cid­u­ous trees for spring flow­er­ing, and daylilies and bel­ladonna and ginger lilies for sum­mer. 7

Add an­nu­als. If you want a true cot­tage gar­den pro­fu­sion all year, you’ll need an­nu­als. Re­mem­ber, the classic English gar­den is only flow­er­filled from late spring to mid-au­tumn. Many rely on the beauty of tree trunks and their pat­terns among lawn or snow for their beauty. 8

Keep the lawn green and trimmed. Noth­ing sets off flow­ers like a car­pet-like green sward. This may mean keep­ing it small, if you don’t in­tend a bi­weekly trim. And don’t for­get wa­ter!

9

En­joy. The classic English gar­den comes with a gar­den chair, a teapot

or a long cool drink, and prefer­ably a foot­man serv­ing straw­ber­ries and cream. Do not for­get the gor­geous flower-decked sun hat. And a dog that

matches your sofa.

A cot­tage gar­den has many el­e­ments. BE­LOW: Helle­bore.

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