All posts by Sophia

I'm an experienced and enthusiastic garden designer & landscape architect.

Is Lesser Celandine really a weed?

So, is this little plant, Ranunculus ficaria, offensive or not?

It is incredibly effective at spreading itself about: the little bulblets drop off the roots as you dig up the plant to remove it, and lo! you have fifteen instead of one.

The little bulblets and lanky stems of lesser celandine
The little bulblets spread so easily!

But, as you can see here, what can happen is that you end up with the prettiest Springtime carpet.

Lesser celandine carpeting the ground underneath well-maintained Forsythia shrubs
Beautiful Spring Colour!

This is in the ‘Planty’ park in Krakow; I don’t know if the celandine is deliberate or accidental, but since the Forsythia is looked after so well (this is exactly how it should be pruned), extrapolation suggests it was added to produce a wonderful plant partnership. And great ground cover!

The flowers and leaves flourish for a brief period in mid-Spring, then die back and vanish till next year.

I’ve found, in a mix of accident and experiment, that Snowdrops; Lesser Celandine and Astrantia (Masterwort) work in succession brilliantly, each hiding the dying leaves of the previous, and enjoying deciduous light shade, woodland style (which means damp in spring but drier throughout the summer).

My conclusion, is that since it’s impossible to eradicate once you have it, that it’s best to make the most of it!

New products to enhance your garden; the Landscape Show 2014

I love exhibitions; it’s just so exciting finding wonderful new products.

Of course, some are less than wonderful, but I’m not including them here…

Lots of useful catalogues, collected by Sophia from The Landscape Show
So glad I took my pink trolley! A good haul of useful info.

Useful hardware

Lumena Light's Show stand
That’s my deck, right down there!
Obviously, I have to put Lumena Lights right up there; as they splashed my garden all over their marketing!They sell good quality mid-range lights with replaceable bulbs.

A selection of up and down-lighters
Nice looking lights!

Kyoto Design laser cut screen
Laser cut screen by Kyoto Design, from Australia
These next two products are intriguingly linked. It’s both being screens, although the second is an unexpected but so useful one:

A display of unusually patterned drain covers
Drain covers have never before been cool! From Lateral Design Studio

I wish I could find the literature for this pizza oven!
I wish I could find the literature for this pizza oven!
This is a first for me, a smoker/pizza oven in a beehive!

And yes, there's the pink trolley in the corner...
And yes, there’s the pink trolley in the corner…

Tungsten Smart-Heat Portable Garden Patio Heater
Strange looking unit! Directional heat radiation with minimal heat loss, from Bromic.
How to make your evenings more pleasurable!The latest in patio heaters and features.

Square 'Fire Table', using gas for a contemporary garden
The epitome of contemporary garden design! A ‘Fire Table’ for entertainment, decoration, a little heat and pure visual pleasure!

Cast-iron spherical firepit cut into a dragon image
Hand-cut dragon firepit, glorious!
These cast-iron firepits are meant to last at least 25 years. Worth the investment, and can be made to you own specification.

Firepit company woodland sphere
A most beautiful sight on any evening!

Colourful trellis and shapely obelisks!
Colourful trellis and shapely obelisks! From Trellis Direct (
To the right: an intriguing system for screening your patio. Keeps the rain out too!

Terrace screening, lowered to shade the terrace below.
Light and Shade Adjustable Terrace Roof system. Very contemporary, very easy to use. From

Solid larch garden planters and furniture By Fatleaf of Dorset.
Lovely solid larch planters made from local sustainable forests. By Fatleaf of Dorset.
To the left: I love the colourful trellis (and painting it oneself is such a chore); and larch is a lovely extra-long-lasting wood. The sailors of you might have moored up to larch pilings…

Terrace screening, lifted to allow light through.
Lifted screen, the Light edition…


Exciting Artists!

Beautiful stained glass 2
Beautiful glass bowl by Mel Howse, Extraordinary Glass Artist

Mel Howse

Beautiful stained glass 1
Beautiful Stained Glass from an ecclesiastical piece

Hannah Griffiths Moasic Tree on a large building wall
Hannah Griffiths Mosaic Tree
Hannah Griffiths

Hannah Griffiths Mosaic of a cherry-eating bird
Hannah Griffiths. Small mosaic of a cherry-eating bird!

 Hard Landscaping Materials

Rubberwood plywood decking
This is plywood decking using rubberwood; otherwise-to-be-discarded rubber plantation trees. Excellent material properties, but an odd medicinal smell!
I do prefer the feel of natural wood decking, and the new product to the left, from Roundwood of Mayfield, seems to solve the need for ease of maintenance with a really goood product.

Composite Decking
Virtually maintenance free composite decking. It’s reasonably realistic… From Decking NI Ltd

Clay bricks for garden paths in earth tones
Wonderfully solid and traditional paving bricks from Urman of Holland
I love natural materials and modern exciting ones too, so long as they are good quality and work well. These clay pavers are the most durable around; the Cedec will not last for very long, but can be very readily top-dressed and will look good-as-new again. Both very sustainable products!

Free-draining compactable gravel for a natural-looking but firm pathway
Free-draining compactable gravel for a natural-looking but firm pathway and useful for top-dressing tree-pits. Super Cedec from CED.


Why I love Pictorial Meadows

Well, I do (very) often recommend pictorial meadows to clients, and you may think I’m just talking up the latest trend, but this was the view from the kitchen, in Oct 2013, before I bought my house:

View of the front lawn from the kitchen window Oct 2013
Bare boring weedy lawn

And this was the view this July 2014, two months after sowing the pictorial meadow seeds. As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words!

Beautiful floral front garden!

Plantsman’s Spiral Front Garden

“You don’t know what a difference you have made…”


These capable clients wanted a garden that would be secure, yet welcoming and attractive; have year round colour in a traditional informal style, yet with a modern feel to blend their modern house into its environment.
They wanted to retain some lawn but to increase the interest by extending the flower beds. They liked cottage garden-styles and also architectural planting along with perennials and grasses.

Garden Issues

The planting in all the front gardens of the street was meant to be low and open.
There was a large cherry tree in the lawn, whose roots had risen to the surface and caused problems with mowing.
Access to the house was only from the drive to the side. When cars are parked in the drive, space to walk to the front door was restricted. The planting would have to be low and soft or smooth in this area.


A sense of enclosure was to be created with a hedge of Cornus which could be kept low and loosely pruned.

The square lawn was turned into a spiral, creating a journey alongside the flowerbeds from the front door to the centre and back again, all within the same small space. The lawn itself is beautiful in winter when the flowers are gone. Stepping stones amidst herbs were placed from the drive to the lawn.

The planting was largely herbaceous and bulbs so that there would be spectacular colours from spring to autumn, with a backbone of multi-season shrubs such as Viburnum opulus and Physocarpus opulifolius “Dart’s Gold”.