Saturday, 7 May 2011

Nandina domestica

One thing that really gets up my nose are property developers that get their builders to 'landscape' the new properties on completion, instead of using either a professional landscape company (although these can tend to be more concerned with immediate effect nowadays instead of planning for the longer term), or a skilled and knowledgeable gardener who knows what he is doing, and will hopefully have to look after the garden in the years to come, and so has a vested interest. The ground is never prepared properly, with the introduction of good quality topsoil, compost and fertiliser being substituted for a quick overlay of twelve inches of the cheapest topsoil available. This is then covered in poorly laid turf in some places, and planted with whatever the builder can grab cheaply. No thought is ever put into how the design will evolve over the next several years, how plants will work with each other, soil suitability, or simply if the customer likes them. As a result, many die, or are smothered through overplanting, or simply have to be moved because they are the wrong plant in the wrong place.
So here we are, Nandina domestica, which when planted in good soil and in a sunny to semi-shaded position, rewards the observer with an unrivalled display of orange foliage.

During a look around the new garden in Sandbanks, whilst making a note of what can stay, what can go, and where the new planting will go, I came across Nandina planted by the builders. If you focus hard, you can just make out the thin and whispy growth against the fence at the back of the photo. Planted in sand, under a large Pittosporum, and this under pine trees.....not what one might call the perfect spot, and as a result nothing happening but death. As for plants working with each other, I bring you once again to the little border in the foreground, where a rather nice Phormium 'Black Adder' is about to be smothered by the encasement of Pittosporum tenuifolium variegata, the latter of which has to be trimmed harder and harder to keep it in!! I can maybe see what they were thinking of, but I shall be making the bed larger, introduce Phormium Yellow Wave and Jubilee, and edge with something a little smaller growing such as Euonymus 'Emerald and Gold'.

It's Saturday today, I should be working, but the rain has finally arrived. Emails have been sent to todays customers, with new days set to catch up, peanut butter on toast and an apple for breakfast, and now a second cup of tea is on it's way........bye for now!


  1. Ooo that makes me cranky too... I have a tiny appartment as an investment and last year all the owners in the block paid a landscaping company to do the planting between our building and the one next door. A space just big enough to drive a car through. They planted, among other inappropriate things, a ficus elastica. Right under the window of my appartment. THEY GROW UP TO 40 METRES TALL!!! Sometimes even taller!

    What were they thinking Gary? A landscape company. Professionals. What were they thinking.

  2. Hi Ali,
    Alas, this seems to be getting more and more common. So called professional garden designers and landscapers get paid vast amounts to create what is in fact a very temporary design. They are taking the money and running, then leaving the proper gardeners to sort out the mess later.

  3. always good to hear thoughts from a gardener with an expert eye. Have been tempted by Nandina and can see how sun bring out its fiery nature. If builders would just put layers of top soil and then leave, newly constructed gardens would be off to a flying start

    p.s. panjus my word verification - sounds like something you cook up