Subscription change notification

Notification: We are about to implement some changes to our subscription structure by end of November 2014:

1. As a home gardener you will have access to a limit of 5 gardens in total. We believe 5 gardens should be more than ample for private members’ own use.

2. Listing business accounts will not have access to garden profiles and plant lists as this is a business listing only service and not a client plant list service.

3. PRO members’ clients who receive a Shoot account from their garden designer or landscaper will be limited to a 3 month free trial down from one year.

If you have any comments or questions please write to us at shoot@shootgardening.co.uk.

Get started – feedback pls

To help new members to get started with Shoot we are working on a two-step ‘get started’ process on sign-up. This will help customise Shoot for each member so that we can provide plant care advice reminders and recommended plants for every members’ own garden.

This presentation below shows the proposed design and steps. You can click the icon bottom right to expand to full screen. Click the right arrow to take you through the entire presentation.

Before we implement this new set-up process we would like feedback on how easy these steps are to understand. Are they easy to follow? Is there too much wording? Is there enough explanation? Would anything prevent you from filling in the information? Feedback is most welcome.
Note: because the designs are in a presentation format they appear a bit fuzzy and the small text is hard to read. These will be much clearer once on the live website.

Mobile web plant finder

Exciting update! We are working on a mobile web plant finder version of Shoot.

Shoot_Mobile_Home

You will be able to:
Search all our plants
Read full information for each plant in our database
Price comparison check

And for members they can:
Check if plants they are buying work in their garden
Add plants to my plant lists on the go
Review current plant lists

Plant recipies from BBC

This week at Chelsea Flower Show on the BBC, Rachel de Thame is providing ‘planting recipies’. The first is what Rachel is calling ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ as seen in The Telegraph Garden. Rachel’s advice is to keep a simple palette of just a few plants and avoid over filling your garden with too many varieties.

Plants in the Nouvelle Cuisine recipe include:

 

The Oak Processionary Moth

By Helen Elks-Smith.

Oak processionary moth (OPM) was first found in south-west London in the summer of 2006 and was probably brought in on infected oak trees from Europe. The caterpillars feed on oak leaves and can strip the tree bare, leaving it vulnerable to other pests and diseases and less able to withstand extreme weather conditions such as drought and flood.

The caterpillar is also a problem to people pets and wildlife. The caterpillars have thousands of tiny hairs which can be blown on the wind. These hairs contain an irritating substance ‘thaumetopoein’ which causes irritation and rashes on contact, and in some cases sore throats, eye problems and breathing difficulty.

Webnest

At the moment OPM remains confined to sites in the South and West of London and one in Berkshire, although scientists believe that it could survive and breed in much of England and Wales. It is imperative that we act now to protect our open spaces and prevent OPM from spreading to the wider landscape of England and Wales.

Biosecurity measures to help contain and possibly eradicate OPM include tree passports for imported oak trees and restrictions on tree movement in infected areas. Infected trees are treated with a combination of surveying, spraying and manual nest removal.

To be successful these biosecurity measures need to be fully enforced and you can help. If you visit an affected area, take care to ensure that you do not bring anything away with you that may spread the infection (such as plant matter , twigs and branches) If you already have oak trees on your property, survey them regularly for signs of the nests and caterpillars so any infection can be caught early before it spreads. If you are planting new oaks, make sure they are from reputable suppliers and, if from abroad or infected areas in the UK, that they have a plant passport

webtrailIf you think I have seen OPM caterpillars or nests:
Do not touch or approach caterpillars or nests.
Keep people away away from nests, caterpillars and affected trees.
See a doctor or vet if seriously affected by symptoms.
Report sighting (with photo if possible) to local council or Forestry Commission
For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/opm
Landscape and garden designer Helen Elks-Smith is a BALI Design Excellence award winner based in the New Forest. She feels passionate about conservation and the future of our landscape. Helen has teamed up with sponsor’s The City of London Corporation, to design a garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014, to raise public awareness of the threat of oak processionary moth and the importance of biosecurity measures to contain it.

Front Gardens – Let’s hear it for the Victorians!

By garden designer Helen Elks Smith. Our front gardens have a tricky time fulfilling everything that we ask of them and often the easiest solution to satisfying the parking, dustbin and access needs is to pave the whole thing over. But it doesn’t need to be this way and there are many good reasons to look at other ways of making our front gardens work both for us and the environment we live in.

When people ask ‘What did the Victorians do for us?’, one of the replies could be ‘they introduced front gardens to our cities and towns’. They valued the space as somewhere to plant flowers, relax and chat with neighbours, and to provide a buffer between home and the busy world beyond. In many parts of the country people are re-discovering the simple but enormous pleasure of a front garden and the benefits it can bring to our community and the environment. Getting to know your neighbours whilst gardening or watching the children play and reducing the amount of run-off water are just a couple of examples.

Front garden

My job as a garden designer is to create an attractive relaxing space that also fulfils a variety of practical needs. Some of the considerations I bear in mind are:

  • Pathways – how are visitors and family going to reach the front door? The path needs to be obvious but can be made attractive using hedges and planting.
  • Parking – How many cars need to park in the garden as opposed to the road? How much turning room do they need? How much area is left for grass, planting, pots and planters?
  • Drive materials – use of brick and cellular paving, gravel and plasticised mesh are attractive alternatives to tarmac and concrete and allow rain water to soak away instead of forming problematic run off.
  • Refuse – for ease of collection, bins often need to be in the front garden but screening with fencing or hedges means they do not need to be an eyesore.
  • Privacy – Using hedges and fencing to get the balance right between feeling exposed and feeling hemmed in.

Front garden path

When it is cold and wet we rarely spend much time in our back gardens but through necessity our front gardens are used every single day of the year. Planting trees with attractive bark such as Himalayan birch and paperbark maple, shrubs that flower through the winter together with snowdrops, narcissus and hellebores will lift your spirits at this time of the year when they need lifting the most.

So let’s hear it for the Victorians, and for the potential we have in all of our front gardens!

Helen Elks-Smith has a busy design practice in the New Forest and is currently working on a number of projects across London and the South. She won the prestigious BALI Design Excellence Award 2013 and is being sponsored by the City of London to exhibit a garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.

Notes of pathways

By garden designer Helen Elks Smith. There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating the impact of nature, greenery and the effect that simply being outside has on our everyday lives.

It has been shown that we react at a deeply subconscious level to our surroundings. There is evidence that it takes just 3 minutes for green landscapes to give significant relief from stress and anxiety.  Our gardens have a positive impact on our daily lives.

image 1-1

Building blocks used by garden designers are, in the main, green and these are used to define spaces.  The connections between these spaces have an atmosphere that determines how we feel when moving around the garden.  These pathways can hinder or encourage movement.

image 2-1

Closely planted avenues of pollarded trees such as limes have been used for centuries to create lightly shaded walkways where one might take a ‘turn around the garden’.   The narrower the trees,  the faster you will walk beneath them.   Planting the trees with a wider gap underneath also allows vehicles to pass beneath, although on this busy B road (below) in Dorset the cars are generally going too fast to appreciate the subtle pull of the landscape.

image 3-1

Under the strong heat and light of the Mediterranean sun, this high, narrow path in the Alhambra in southern Spain offers welcome shade.

image 4

But in the UK, this tall evergreen hedge would feel uncomfortable, despite the gentle curve, and it would be less used or cause you to speed up as you passed through.

The overall design works best if the path’s planting also supports movement.  Different plant forms create different atmospheres; strong uprights and arching forms such as stipa gigantea tend to dominate and create a focal point, which through repetition can lead the eye and encourage movement.  Here (below) at Wisley, wide planting beds of stipa gigantea  are balanced by the anchoring affect of the Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’  edging the paths as they curve away from the glasshouse. The overall atmosphere is restful as you stroll along the path.

image 5

More upright forms can be used to create quicker and more forceful movement.   Unless you want to create a stampede, soften and slow the movement by  anchoring the planting with dome-shaped plants to add more stability.    Here the vertical stems and form  of the chinese birch (betula albosinensis ‘Fascination’) and the white foxgloves are balanced by the flat leaves and mounding form of the hosta, the horizontal leaves of the cimifuga, the pincushion flowers of the cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ and astrantia

To maximize the impact of our gardens on how we feel we need to ensure that there is somewhere  we can simply sit and enjoy a cup of tea.   If we plan our pathways well we will be encouraged out into the garden and the countdown on those 3 minutes will start as soon as we set foot outside.

image 6

How much should a garden cost?

Many of us look at inspirational, beautiful designer gardens or RHS flower show gardens and hope to re-create the look in our own outside space. However many starting out to transform their gardens don’t really know how much to budget for or how to get started. Here are some common questions answered:

How much should a garden cost?

My experience is that most people underestimate what a new garden will cost. How much should your budget for? This depends on your budget and what you hope to acheive. For a great garden , it is recommended that you should estimate £100 as a minimum per square metre of garden. This may sound like a lot to invest but beautiful garden can cost as much to build as a new kitchen.

Do I need a garden designer?

If want to give your garden a completely new look, it is  worthwhile hiring an experienced, fully qualified garden designer to help. They’ll help you to make the most out of your space and budget. The cost of a designer is much smaller that the overall cost of building a new garden and is a worthwhile investment to get the most from your outside space. By hiring a garden designer who is a registered member of the Society of Garden Designers you can be confident of getting the best service and expertise.

Do I need a landscaper?

If you are doing garden construction you will need a landscaper. They will take the garden design, including elements such as garden levels, hard landscaping, power and lighting requirements, water access, planting plan and so on from the garden designer and will  complete the build work in your garden. We recommend that you hire members of the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL). All members are inspected annually and must adhere to professional standards to ensure they provide you with a high standard and a professional service.