Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

Green therapy for 2018

Green mound of  Hakonechloa macra (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Green mound of Hakonechloa macra (Gillian Goodson Designs)

All rise for a shiny, brand new year! Such a great opportunity for rewriting aspects of your life – what’s your new beginning? Shed those layers that have been holding you back. Start afresh, whether it’s physical and you are in need of a detox, or letting go of certain fears or negative thinking. Embrace a can-do attitude: discover a new hobby, learn a new language, master a culinary skill or prove that you have a green thumb after all! 

A small handful of low-maintenance plants to introduce you to green therapy in 2018: 

The polar opposite of the excesses of the festive season, Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass), the original green form of this deciduous ornamental grass, is understated and minimalist. Use to great effect by planting on its own in large groups or under a small tree with light shade. Alternatively, mix with other shade-tolerant plants such as ferns and hostas. 

It’s hard not to be enamoured by Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (North American Redbud) – a small, often multi-stemmed tree (5 to 10m) of rounded habit and light pink flowers on bare stems in spring. May its deep purple, heart-shaped leaves disarm you. 

There’s now pine envy. There have been murmurings of resurgence and the conifer wave is here. Some are architectural delights. Forming an evergreen mound is Pinus mugo ‘Mops’ (dwarf mountain pine up to 1m) which should be relatively easy to source. It likes a sunny spot and is tolerant of exposed sites. 

For the perennial border, try the temptingly named catmint Nepeta x faassenii ‘Kit Kat’ (30cm). Small, delightful lavender blue flowers from May to September, it is less floppy than its cousins and has scented leaves. 

If a sunny windowsill is your garden, there’s rosette-shaped Aloe cosmo ‘Green Pearl’, an intriguing succulent. 

Continue with winter jobs: check for damaged trees and shrubs and prune if necessary; plant fruit trees and bushes for spring flower, summer puddings and autumn bounty. Make winter impact and plant containers. Watch your step, as early-flowering bulbs will have pushed their way through in search of light. 

Be the shooting star of your life. Light up your world and along the way may you inspire others. Let’s make it a great year!