One of Gay Search's favourite plants for low-maintenance areas, the California poppy will happily self-seed, appearing year after year. A fast-growing annual with feathery bluish-green leaves, it enjoys a sunny site with poor, well-drained soil and is particularly well-suited to gravel gardens. In summer, it produces slender, single blooms that come in shades of orange, red, yellow or white, which are followed by long, curved seed-pods.
Sow the seeds in mid-spring where you want them to flower. Deadhead regularly to ensure a long flowering period.
incarnatum Crimson clover
Found growing wild in South and West Europe, this ornamental clover produces attractive red flowers in spring and summer. The blooms are attractive to bees, making this clover a useful additionto a wildlife garden.
Grow in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Sow seed in containers in the cold frame in spring.
rubrum Scarlet flax
This superb, low-maintenance hardy annual blooms from early summer right through autumn. The slender stems support masses of deep scarlet flowers, which are best admired when planted in dense clusters in a mixed border. Sow seeds in late spring in well-drained soil and a sunny spot.
douglasii Poached egg plant
There is just one species of this Californian annual which is very simple to grow in almost any soil in a sunny spot. The bright white and yellow cup-shaped flowers create a cheerful patch of ground cover, with the apt name of poached egg plant.
It's an asset in the vegetable garden as a companion plant to attract hoverflies which will feed on aphids and pollinate plants.
It will self-seed freely and future generations will continue to appear and naturalise themselves over the area, germinating and flowering at different times. This can be imitated by sowing in autumn for flowers as early as April, and from spring to July for a long sequence of summer flowers.
The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
'Rambling Rector' Rose
A rampant, vigorous rose, it makes an impressive tangled mass of growth when allowed to romp up a tree, although its bendy stems can also be trained around a pillar or over a pergola. It flowers once, in summer, when it's covered in a mass of small, white, scented flowers which are followed by red hips. When being grown up a tree, it's impossible and unnecessary to prune, but on ornamental structures the side-shoots should be trimmed back after flowering to a new shoot for the first two years. Thereafter, cut out one-third of the oldest stems each year at ground level to encourage new vigorous stems to shoot up. It has been given the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the Royal Horticultural Society.
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"My inspiration for the garden dates back to 1988 when Fetzer converted all its vineyards to sustainable farming methods - rejecting synthetic chemicals and instead using weeds and compost to promote conditions for grape-growing. At the time people considered it rather radical but now it's a fact of everyday life.
"The concepts contained in our garden pertain to the home as well as garden or farm. Recycling, waste reduction, green power, appropriate plants, encouraging biodiversity, water conservation and care of the soil are important for all of us to keep in mind. I hope people are inspired by the relaxed naturalness of our garden and to see how easy and positive it is to engage in some of the principles of sustainability in their gardens and homes."