Christine Wilford, award-winning garden designer and builder, founder and director of GreenArden Design, talks to The Court Circular about the joy of garden design and getting your hands dirty in the cooler months of the year.
Words | Lucy Donoughue
If, like me, you despair as the summer comes to an end and your garden begins to look a little straggly, read on. Christine Wilford from GreenArden Design is the perfect person to turn to for advice, inspiration and workable suggestions for getting your garden into a state that will make you smile every time you look outside your window.
Molesey resident Christine has been delivering stunning garden and landscape designs since 2008, and over a decade later she’s nowhere near tired of talking about the benefits that designing and tending to our personal pockets of outdoor space can offer.
Christine’s personal approach is centred around mindset and creating a sense of balance, tranquility and inspiration for the people who inhabit gardens, through her designs. When she’s working with a new client, she begins the process by looking at the way they live rather than the outdoor areas she’ll eventually be focussing upon.
“Investing in your garden brings about the promise of something new, and that’s truly wonderful.”
“I work with clients to respond to their house, their lifestyle and I look at the interior of their home,” she explains. “As we’ve come to understand, the interior and the exterior of a household are really connected, so it’s important to bring the two together.”
She beams when I ask her if she enjoys her work. “I do. My job is to make people happy. Investing in your garden brings about the promise of something new, and that’s truly wonderful.”
However, Christine recognises that for many of us, the joy of gardening may be more obvious in the spring and summer time when we can clearly see new life before us, with vibrant colour and abundant foliage and flowers. Here she shares her professional tips for maintaining a positive relationship with your garden throughout the autumn and beyond, and the many ways you can keep a connection with your outdoor space when the chill sets in.
Christine’s top gardening tips for the coming months…
Firstly, don’t put any pressure on yourself to do everything at once! Use small pockets of time to tidy and shape your space. Deadhead with your morning coffee before the day really begins and if you’re working from home perhaps give yourself some time outdoors in the garden in the middle of the day, and tidy a small area before you head back to your desk. It will give you a lovely sense of achievement.
In late September/early October cut back your plants. Feel your way with this. If you have a plant that’s still standing tall with seed heads, you can leave them as they are great for birds to pick on. This will encourage wildlife to come into your space and it’s beautiful to watch a garden teeming with happy birds.
The soil is still warm at this time, so this is a good opportunity to move plants if you’ve noticed that they could work better in a different spot.
In October and November tidy up your borders. I tend not to take away the leaves that might fall in these spaces, as they’re a good protective cover for wildlife to nest under. Also, leave the ornamental grasses which are also good for structure and insects.
You could edge the lawns during this time too, make sure to pick up the leaves that may be gathering on pathways and cut back any plants that have become overgrown and are drooping. Take time to repair garden structures after you’ve cut down climbers. This is the best time to see what might need replacing or fixing.
Before Christmas, create some lovely winter interest by planting up pots with hellebores and anything colourful that you find in the garden centre. We can extend festive floral decorations beyond the house by focussing them outside the entrance to our front door or on a terrace.
Using lights in your garden can be spectacularly impactful towards the end of the year. If you have folding doors that look out into the garden, you could place some lights around trees or areas of interest to add drama and a poetic beauty to your external space, even on the darkest and dreariest of days.
Deep winter provides another dimension for gardening time. Use this period to prepare for the year ahead and appraise the structure of the garden. It’s time to have a good clear up and look towards the future and the arrival of spring.
Find out more at greenardendesign.com
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