Arthur Parkinson

Gardening Guide: Courtyard Planting With Arthur Parkinson

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Whether you’re a green-fingered expert or botanical beginner, Arthur Parkinson’s courtyard planting tips for creating the heady, enchanting feel of the English garden will have your outdoor space blooming in no time…

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Gardening Q&A: Arthur Parkinson

Dahlias

This month I am…

Sowing the first seeds for my summer pot displays – fast-growing and hardy borage in azure blue and white, which has edible flowers and is one of the richest plants in nectar for visiting bees. They’ll be in flower by the middle of May, as long as the weather stays on side.

I’ve ordered a lot of plants to come as seedling plug plants this year because I have limited growing space. Even though the garden is small it will easily fit over a hundred annual plants. I will soon sow the tiny seeds of panicum (‘Sparkling Fountain’) which is the best foliage with magical seed heads like sparklers. It’s truly beautiful and very ethereal.

Flower Yard Hyacinth

My favourite first bulbs to cut…

It would have to be hyacinths, for the house. Especially the beetroot purple ‘woodstock’ which looks so beautiful and is packed with perfume. Hyacinth Kronos is the best royal blue of all flowers and equally scented, too.

My top tip for refreshing your garden for spring…

Is with a good brush everywhere, and I think a sort out is always good – but go steady on the pressure washing as you don’t want the place looking too sterile.

Crocus cloche

Crocus hexagonal lidded cloche, £119.99, crocus.co.uk

This month I’ve been stocking up on…

Lots of seedlings from Sarah Raven, they arrive as growing plugs which is helpful when you have limited sowing space. I have recently invested in an old-looking but brand new Victorian cloche from Crocus. Seedlings need to be gotten out into full light and air but also need protection from the wind and hard rain until they toughen up. We have cosmos and lots of ammi majus due to arrive as plug plants in April but I’ll be sowing cosmos myself too, as it’s very easy to germinate.

The next thing I’m adding to my garden…

Lemon verbena and lots of it, along with some good pelargoniums. Scent from leaves and flowers has become a lot more important to me lately,  it’s all about the senses and sometimes it’s easy to forget about your nose and just think visually with plants.

Flower Yard hyacinth

My favourite thing about my garden over lockdown has been…

Being able to be in it, wandering in a dressing gown into the afternoon. I like being feral and I’m not rushing to be back with humanity at full flow; quite the reverse. I’m naturally a hermit crab, happy in my shell.

My tips for outdoor entertaining this summer…

Don’t be afraid to let the space be a garden. I’m more interested in the garden being an experience of plants and letting them grow at large rather than having is as a space waiting for a human party. Don’t allow garden furniture to dominate the look, collapsible metal chairs are useful for stacking in a corner.

Dahlias

What I’m most looking forward to as the weather warms up…

I have my partner James (@jjamesmackie) gardening now, which is interesting. It’s a garden that’s very much done with entertaining in mind and has a mainly white colour palette which I’m finding fun to plan. The key thing is being loyal to the primary colour you choose in the beginning, we’ve planted white and pink roses so this means we can’t go into oranges for summer, as tempting as it is, because we would end up with a garish clash.

Arthur Parkinson book

The Flower Yard: Growing Flamboyant Flowers in Containers by Arthur Parkinson is out now (Kyle Books, £22)Follow Arthur Parkinson on Instagram @arthurparkinson_

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