Pink Delight

Early Summer Floral Design

Here is a Constance Spry inspired arrangement featuring early Summer plants grown in Scotland for you to try.




Foxglove – Digitalis purpurea (mixed hybrids)

 Foxgloves are incredible statuesque flowers at their best grown in a woodland setting. They put on a dazzling display in early summer each year and come in a range of colours from soft pinks, white and apricot shades.  They are a biennial plant meaning they put on a rosette of leaves in the first year, followed by flowers in the second. It is best to harvest the seed once ripe and sow in March each year and keep a succession of plants growing. Note the seed requires light to germinate so never cover the seed when sowing into a seed tray. Alternatively let them seed themselves around in areas of your garden. The flowers are loved by bumble bees and they they do best in humus- rich, moist well drained soil in shade or semi shade. The name Digitalis means finger or digit as the flowers are thimble like in appearance. It is also important to note that all parts of Foxgloves are actually poisonous both to us and animals. Despite this Foxgloves are used in modern medicine as a heart stimulant drug.




Rose – Rosa ‘Alan Titchmarsh’

What is summer without Roses in your floral creations. This soft pink Rose is just irresistible and desirable in your summer garden flowering in June. They like full sun in fertile humus-rich soil and it is best each Spring to feed them with well rotted manure and your own compost to keep them in peak condition. Dead heading Roses is an important process to encourage more flowers. Each flowering stem can be cut back as far as three sets of leaves. The amount you cut back controls, to some extent, the shape and size of your plant.




Cirsum rivulare “Atropurpureum’

 The plume thistle is a tall crimson, flowering herbaceous perennial of about 2 metres which looks handsome in the middle of a herbaceous or mixed border. It does best in full sun on moist well drained soil, however it can tolerate some dryness and partial shade. If you find the plant starting to self seed and become an issue you can cut back the seed head in the Autumn. It is also easy to collect the seed and grow from seed. I love it in a garden and so do the bees they are always all over it when it is flowering.




Hosta ‘Blue Jay’

There is nothing quite like the blue foliage of certain Hostas. The wonderful thing about blue Hostas is that slugs and snails tend to prefer the green forms to eat rather than the blue. This will mean fewer munched and hole ridden Hostas in your garden. Prized for their foliage they also have flowers that appear in lilac or white during July and some can even be scented. Place in a light- or semi-shaded position and  Hostas are very hardy so they’ll thrive even in a north-facing garden or frost pocket. They are ideal for a rain garden or pond area, and can also be grown successfully in containers.

Red Campion – Silene dioica

 This dainty native wildflower has pink flowers that are known for brightening our roadsides, hedgerows and woodland edges in early summer each year just after the bluebells have gone over. The flowers are also a good source of food for moths, bees and butterflies. They flower in May and June and do best in semi shade and are tolerant of most soils. You can sow the seed from March – October.

Geranium macrorrhizum

One of my favourite hardy Geraniums which has attractive delicate pink flowers. These flowers appear on long stems with protruding anthers and pistil. They grow well in full sun but can also thrive in shade. With a spreading habitat it is best to divide this herbaceous perennial every 3 – 5 years and feed with an organic mulch each Spring. Bees also love this plant and once it has finished flowering it is a good idea to dead head using your shears to encourage a second flush later in the summer.



Clementine Wreath

Make this festive Christmas wreath which is contemporary in its regular appearance, yet bold in the use of materials and colours. The design is composed of a tightly grouped ring of clementines, cranberries and green leaves. There is nothing that says Christmas more than sweet clementines and cranberries! The wonderful thing about this wreath is it has a citrus smell, but can be made more aromatic by using bay leaves or other herbs instead of evergreens like ivy.



Florist wire


Florist ring soaked


Leaves; bay leaves, ivy, pine, skimmia

Step 1: Push florist wire through the base of each clementine from one side to the other, then face the ends down the way to create a hair pin shape. This can then be pushed and secured onto the florist foam. Remember to soak the foam ring in water prior to assembling the wreath.

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Step 2: Arrange the clementines in a tight circle on the top of the ring by pushing the wire ends into the foam.


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Step 3: Form an inner ring using short sections of florist wire or cocktail sticks to insert the red cranberries into the wreath.

Step 4: Evenly distribute the leaves around the wreath ensuring no foam is visible.


This wreath will look spectacular hung on a door or wall and can even be used as a table centre piece with the addition of candles. It is a heavy wreath so if you plan to hang it do ensure you fix it securely.

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Japanese Acers

Once you plant one Japanese Acer  in your garden you are likely to become addicted to Acers! Many gardeners can’t stop at just one. One reason for this is the staggering diversity of Acers available but it is hard to believe they have come from primarily three species; Acer japonicum, Acer shirasawanum and Acer palmatum.

In colour, size, shape and texture no other tree provides so many options. You will find dwarf, midsize and large forms. Some are vase shaped while others cascade or form a column. In some cases the leaves can be star shaped, deeply dissected or nearly round. The colour range in Japanese Acers is breathtaking ranging from purples, reds, oranges, yellows and greens. Often under appreciated are their sculptural trunks during the winter months.


Design wise they provide colour echoes as well as textural highlights when dispersed through your borders. Even a single specimen can create a stunning centrepiece in the garden. These trees are basically like a living sculpture and they are constantly changing throughout the season. Planting companions are Ginkgo biloba, Rhododendrons and Metasequoia glyptostroboides.

Even if you have a small garden you can still participate in Acer madness. They do particularly well in small containers and pots. Once in a pot your tree is then mobile and able to be moved around your garden to suit your preference.

When growing Acers make sure they are sheltered from strong winds and harsh bright sunlight to prevent the leaves becoming scorched.


The Coffee Show Garden

The Coffee Garden won a Gold medal, Best in Show and the People’s Choice Award at Gardening Scotland 31st May – 2nd June 2019

Designed by Kirsty Wilson and constructed by the RBGE Diploma in Garden Design students.


Coffee is one of the world’s favourite drinks, one of the most important commercial crop-plants, and the second most valuable international commodity. Everyone loves coffee and it is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However many people have forgotten the home of coffee and that it is originally from a plant. Although there are 125 species of coffee, we only actually use two species to produce the popular beverage Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta.

Many plantations are based on one plant meaning low genetic diversity, which means they have low tolerance to pests and diseases. Our climate is changing and this could directly affect coffee production in the future. This is why monitoring, and studying plants is vital to our survival on earth – without plants there is no life. This show garden reflects the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s mission to educate people about plants, connecting people with nature and making a positive impact on the world.

At a time when climate change is arguably the most pressing of global challenges, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is working with partners at home and abroad to address the central issue of worldwide plant conservation. RBGE’s work involves protecting plant species before they disappear and monitoring the situation to understand the speed with which their habitats are changing.

RBGE is currently conducting work in Colombia as it is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. Practically every kind of ecosystem can be found within its borders. Colombia is one of the world’s greatest coffee-producing nations, selling US $2.64 billion around the world each year.  RBGE Colombia aims to study the biogeography evolution and conservation of Colombian biomes. Field expeditions are being conducted in close collaboration with local communities and researchers in areas of Paramo, mountain forest, cloud forest, dry forest and lowland rain forest. This garden highlights RBGE’s outreach abroad and highlights the institutions impact on explaining and exploring the world of plants for a better future.




The colour theme for the garden is bitter chocolate, lime green and soft apricot – inspiration taken from the shades of the fruit from the Coffea plant which contains the valuable coffee beans.



The Garden’s message

  • Highlights RBGE’s work in terms of education, research and conservation to the public visiting the show.

  • Connects people with nature and the importance of plants affecting our daily lives.

  • Highlights the threats to coffee production and other plant life globally from climate change and habitat loss.

  • Promotes the purchasing of environmentally friendly and fair trade coffee and the sustainable use of coffee cups.

  • Displays that RBGE is at the forefront of the battle to save the planet through its work both at home and abroad.




Plant List for the Coffee Garden: 

Acer ‘Bloodgood’

Acer ‘Senkaki’

Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’

Actaea simplex ‘Pink Spike’

Aquilegia ‘Black Barlow’

Aquilegia vulgaris ‘William Guiness’

Carex testacea

Deschampsia flexuosa ‘Tatra Gold’

Dryopteris wallichiana

Euphorbia characias ssp. Characias ‘Humpty Dumpty’

Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’

Geum ‘Flames of Passion’

Geum ‘Tequila Sunrise’

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

Heuchera ‘Binoche’

Heuchera ‘Black Sea’

Heuchera ‘Caramel’

Heuchera ‘Green Spice’

Heuchera ‘Lime Marmalade’

Heuchera ‘Sweet Tea’

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’

Hosta fortunei var. albopicta f. aurea

Hosta ‘Summer Dress’

Iris ‘Kent Pride’

Libertia ‘Grasshopper’

Mathiaosella bulpeuroides ‘Green Dream’

Paeonia ‘Coral Charm’

Paeonia ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’

Pistia stratiotes

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Amber Jubilee Jelfam’

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’

Sambucus ‘Milk Chocolate’


The  plants for the design were sourced from:

Binny Plants, Mac Plants, Caulders & McLaren’s Nursery









Stachyurus praecox

This delightful deciduous shrub is known for its unusual and colourful late winter and early spring flowers. These typically appear before the foliage emerges and are arranged in pendant catkin-like racemes that hang from the branches. The foliage can turn rosy red and yellow during the Autumn season. The genus comes from the Greek word Stachys meaning an ear of corn – hence the hanging flowers appearance. Plants in this genus are sometimes commonly called spiketail also in reference to the flowers. Native to Japan it  was introduced to UK cultivation in 1864. It can be grown by seed or summer cuttings taken with a heel in late July and given bottom heat. Layering is also a method – do this in summer months and the new plant should be ready to detach the following spring. It grows well in fertile soil that is free training in full sun or partial shade of a woodland. In terms of garden design  it is a perfect shrub for woodland gardens or it can be effectively trained against a wall with southern exposure.




The art of Kokedama is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and is a simple and highly adaptable design concept.  Kokedama is a Japanese technique that means “moss ball” – it is the art of binding plants to create string gardens and can be traced back centuries.  These living plant moss balls suit any space inside or outside your home. You can experiment with this innovative plant design – they are perfect for small urban spaces, the plants can live for years and do not require repotting.  To make a Kokedama you will need soil, string, a plant and moss. Firstly mould the soil round the roots of the plant – wet sandy soil works best. Then bind the soil ball with moss and secure with string keeping it tight. Select plants that are evergreen like ferns or choose seasonal plants and change the display more frequently. Then hang up with a piece of string in your desired location. Soak them once a week in a bucket of water. You can also add liquid fertiliser to the water to feed your plant. Have fun and get creative!




Planters for Autumn

Ditch your boring Autumn planters this year and step up your pumpkin decoration skills. Unleash your creative flair in your house, garden and at your door. Try planting up your pumpkins with plants of all kinds. Pumpkins can be large or small and integrated with shrubs and perennials for interest. You could use all forms of grasses, mini succulents, or floral arrangements displayed within the pumpkin. Use moss or normal potting compost to support the plants in the hollowed out pumpkin. Your designs can be classic planters that are autumn inspired or have fun with Halloween influences. Ophiopogon nigrescens is a black grass which can be used and contrasts perfectly against the orange skin of the pumpkin to give that spooky effect. Once decorated the Autumn planters can be displayed indoors or outside and should last for the month of October.

Laburnum Archway

Meandering through an archway of glowing yellow Laburnum flowers is a magical experience that you too can create in your own garden. This deciduous tree or small shrub puts on a wonderful show- stopping display each year during early summer. It has impressive pendulum flowers that are similar to that of Wisteria and are fragrant. It has commonly been referred to as the golden rain tree. It is a small genus that is found within the plant family Fabaceae and has trifoliate attractive foliage. However this  plant  produces shiny black poisonous seeds so take care when planting in areas with young children and pets. They make wonderful specimen trees or alternatively try the  horticultural technique of training  them over an archway or pergola to create an impressive display. It is best to select cultivars to suit your situation and some have been bred to have very long flowers. Once the main framework of your archway is created it will need little pruning. They are similar to Wisteria in that they only require spur pruning in early winter.  Be careful not to create large pruning wounds as they do not heal quickly and can as a result split the tree. They can cope with poor soil but do best in well drained and fertile soil.

The world famous Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden is well worth visiting.

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Topiary is a living green art form. This evergreen structure is typically made from Box, Yew, Ilex and Conifers which keep their shape well. They provide excellent winter interest with a strong structure of crisp clear lines and a focal point for the visitor’s eye. If snowfall is heavy gently knock it off the branches to prevent them being damaged by the weight of the snow. They will need an annual trim to maintain their creative shape and they can be trained into any form to resemble almost anything from a boat to an eagle! The only downfall is these topiary structures can take many years to grow until the desired shape is achieved. Often started using a wire or  bamboo frame to help get proportions and dimensions correct. As a grower you must remember that these plants are living and will require feeding and watering just like the other plants in your garden. Play with your imagination to create topiary balls, cones, spirals or lollipops for striking evergreen focal points or if you feel brave try to create your own shapes especially animals which often bring a touch of whimsy to the landscape.