Common box is a vigorous, evergreen, bushy, upright shrub or small tree. It has small, rounded to oblong, glossy dark green leaves. Its dense habit makes it ideal for hedging or screening and it can be closely clipped into different shapes. An excellent plant to make into topiary, as you can leave a smart finish after trimming. It's best to choose the dwarf form of this shrub for low hedging to create a knot or parterre.
stoechas French lavender
An attractive and unusual lavender from hot, dry Mediterranean regions, and best grown in a warm position, sheltered from cold winds and frost. It is not fully hardy, but survives well in a sunny corner or against a warm wall, and makes an excellent container plant that can be brought under cover in winter. It is an old variety, cultivated for more than 400 years, and a favourite both for its intense fragrance and also the short dense flower spikes topped with a flourish of conspicuous rich violet bracts, rather like a set of extravagant ears. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
tenuissima Feather grass
A neat, compact, perennial grass, this has lots of close-packed, stiff, thread-like stems forming a strongly horizontal shape about 60cm (2ft) tall. In summer, plants are covered with masses of elegant pale feathery seed-heads which are held a little above the foliage. These can be cut and dried when first opened for use in winter arrangements indoors. Alternatively they make a useful winter food source for finches and other seed-eating birds.
Plants like a sunny well-drained spot and associate well with compact alstroemerias, rock plants and other grasses that enjoy similar growing conditions. To propagate, divide plants from mid-spring to early summer.
nigra Black birch
A change from the traditional silver birch, the black birch makes a striking specimen plant for medium-sized gardens, although it isn't as the name suggests black. Its bark peels attractively in papery sheets creating a bold effect during the winter months that will rival any flowering plant at this time. It is an exceptionally beautiful specimen tree, even more impressive when several are planted close together to make a small clump, and stands out quite startlingly against a foil of dark green woodland or evergreen hedging. In autumn the foliage is vivid yellow.
nobilis Sweet bay
One of the oldest shrubs in cultivation, introduced at least as early as 1650, the Mediterranean sweet bay or bay laurel is an essential foliage plant for herb gardens It is slightly tender while young and benefits from shelter and protection in winter - older plants may even be damaged by frost if grown in unsuitable positions, so in colder gardens, grow bay in containers and move to a sheltered position over winter. Plants are traditionally trained and clipped as topiary, and make fine structural features in formal gardens.
The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
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"The initial concept was taken from looking at Ikea, which then progressed to a theme based around children because to us, Ikea was a fun and child-friendly brand with a great children's range. The main thread of the design is the essence of fun and we want the garden to be colourful and to challenge what a children's garden can be.
"The planting uses a strong perennial base so changing through the seasons and educating. The dominance of grasses aims to bring the planting to life through movement. This will give energy and aid our vision of the planting being something interactive. The perennial planting will encourage biodiversity together with the inclusion of vegetable planting this is fundamental to the concept of companion planting whilst adding a reminder of the enjoyment of healthy eating."