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Updated: Jul 31, 2020

As you walk into any garden, the immediate impression one gets is of colour. This is true whether the garden is a medley of bright flowers with green or a single colour with green or even simply all green, just different graduated shades of green with some in shade and some in sun. It is the manner in which these elements are blended together which provides the atmosphere within a garden - exuberant, startling or peaceful.

Colour changes with the seasons. Winter is brown and green shot through with bright red and yellow, all intensifying with the quality of the light. Spring is golden white and pale green with crocuses, daffodils, euphorbia pools of blue grape hyacinths, and a medley of tulips against the young growth on herbaceous plants and trees bursting into leaf.  Summer starts with soft colours, pinks and mauves with roses, lavender and penstemon, and then turns to hotter colours with bright reds, oranges, and the strong yellows of dahlias, marigolds and the sunflower tribe. Autumn brings the glowing tints from the vermilion of maples through the softer reds and yellows of Japanese acres, sorbus and beech.

At Stephen Charles Landscapes Ltd, we believe it is the introduction of plant material into a garden which brings the whole composition to life. We specialise in all types of planting from a simple container to an entire estate including:

  • Bedding

  • Herbaceous beds

  • Shrub planting

  • Bulbs

  • Mixed borders

  • Ground cover and low maintenance plants

  • Woodland wild area and damp sites

  • Tubs & containers

  • Mature/semi-mature shrubs

  • Mature/semi-mature trees

  • Topiary

Stephen Charles Landscaping herbaceous bed in summer
A herbaceous bed in summer

We can create planting schemes in a variety of styles to suit all types of garden including:

  • Architectural

  • Watery style

  • Cottage style

  • Planting in gravel

  • Natural plantings

  • Woodland style

We can either design a planting scheme from scratch or revitalise an existing scheme. We have great experience of solving common planting problems including:

  • Garden Centre Purchases: commonly where plants have all been purchased at the same time from the garden centre, with the result that they all flower at the same time and look good for a couple of months of the year and do little the rest of the year.

  • The Green Garden: the plants whilst they look healthy have little colour and do not give a "wow" factor (often related to garden centre purchases above).

  • The Darwin Garden: was once planted with a beautiful, interesting range of plants, but over the years and via survival of the fittest, only a limited number of large specimens remain.

  • The Builders Garden: either plants of dubious origins or great plants, but they look sick or very sad due to little or no preparation work being carried out prior to planting.

Stephen Charles Landscapes summer planting
Summer planting

With small gardens, changing plants with the season can be very effective.

Stephen Charles Landscapes winter planting
Winter planting

We use only the best quality nursery stock:

  • UK suppliers are used wherever possible as this prevents the 'shock' of coming from a sunny Mediterranean hillside to rainy Surrey

  • We have used the same suppliers for many years so plants are always to specification

  • We utilise a wide range of suppliers so we can supply and plant a vast range of specimens from a Saxifrage to a Sequoiadendron

  • Wide range of sizes from 1" to  over 50'

Stephen Charles Landscapes woodland planting
Woodland planting

The key to successful establishment of nursery stock is to transplant high-quality plants using good planting procedures and planting the right tree in the right place. Stress and physiological disorders can often be traced to improper planting practices and poor species selection.

There are four types of nursery stock: bare root, containerized, container grown, or balled and burlapped. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Cost as well as site requirements and planting specifications often dictate stock type selection.

Bare-root trees are usually small and easy to transplant. Because there is no soil surrounding the root system, they are lightweight which reduces shipping costs and facilitates handling at the job site.

Note that without the added weight of soil to help anchor the root mass, trees that are planted bare root may require staking.

Bare-root trees should be planted with the main structural roots near the soil surface. Planting holes should not be dug so deeply that loose backfill is required to elevate the tree to the correct height. Roots should be spread and distributed to prevent kinking or circling. Exposure of the roots to air can lead to desiccation; thus, the backfill should be placed firmly around the roots to minimize air pockets. It is also recommended to water as you gradually backfill the planting hole.

The root system of a containerized tree is surrounded by soil or a substrate that is held within a container. Not all containerized trees are container grown; often, bare-root trees are established in the nursery and then sold in containers. If they have recently been potted, there will not be an established root system in the container. Containers must be removed before planting unless they are biodegradable, such as natural peat pots. It still might be preferable to remove a biodegradable container unless the root system will not hold together without it. When selecting containerized trees, the root system should be checked. Sometimes the roots will have grown in circles and matted within the container and must be pulled apart.

If properly watered and maintained, container-grown trees can be planted any time of the year that the ground is not frozen. If planted after leaf drop, roots can begin establishment before the next growing season.

Many trees are balled and burlapped in the nursery. In this process, trees are dug, with a portion of the root ball remaining intact, and wrapped with burlap. Although some roots are preserved within the root ball, it is estimated that as much as 90 percent of the absorbing roots can be lost in digging. The burlap and twine used to wrap the root ball keep the surrounding soil in place. This minimizes root exposure to air and reduces the risk of root breakage.

The most vigorous root growth occurs near the surface. Root growth from the lower portions of the ball is often reduced due to inadequate soil drainage and aeration. This should be taken into consideration when digging the planting hole. Ideally, the planting hole should be two to three times the width of the root ball at the soil surface, sloping down to about the width of the root ball at the base. The most common planting mistake is planting too deeply. The planting hole should never be deeper than the distance from the trunk flare to the bottom of the root ball.

Planting too deeply can occur unintentionally because containerized and balled-and-burlapped trees often arrive from the nursery with soil too high over the primary structural roots.

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