Karen Platt's Blog

  • Garden Made by Stephanie Rose


    Garden Made by Stephanie Rose, softback published by Roost Books. ISBN 9781611801743, price 16.49 available in the UK from PGUK

    This book is sheer delight for any gardener who loves to craft. 40 down-to-earth projects will keep you busy all year round. Enjoy creating personal and individually crafted items for your garden. You'll see mini photos of all the projects arranged by season at the front of the book. Get closer to nature, involve the kids, have fun and create practical gifts or items for your own garden. Beautiful photography enhances this book. My favourite project is the felted acorns, so colourful and lovely. The bug hotel is a close second. This book has a wide variety of projects with broad appeal.

  • Top Ten Plants for Berries

    At this time of year, there is nothing better than the sight of bright red, orange or even yellow berries. Apart from looking attractive, they provide much-needed food for birds. Berries provide birds with antioxidants. Pyracantha and Sorbus are among those that provide yellow berries as well as the more obvious colours. Hedera, if not clipped back, will produce black berries whilst Callicarpa produces bright purple berries. What are the best plants for berries? Apart from the obvious summer to late autumn fruits, here's my top ten.

    The list is in no particular order.

    1. Ilex (Holly)

    2. Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan)

    3. Cotoneaster

    4. Pyracantha

    5. Viburnum (Guelder Rose and others)

    6. Rose hips

    7. Crataegus (Hawthorn)

    8. Berberis (Barberry)

    9. Cornus species (Dogwoods)

    10. Callicarpa

  • Silent Beauties by Leendert Blok


    00004037.tifSilent Beauties by Leendert Blok, hardback published by Hatje Cantz. ISBN 9783775740371, price 39.55 available from www.hatjecantz.de

    This book has a sumptuous cover, that looks and feels like silk. It shows an image of old florists' tulips. Such is the photography throughout the book, taken from 1920s photographs. It is of interest to gardeners and photographers alike. The original edition was published in France by Xavier Barral in 2014, and the reproductions of the original images have been made in France. There is a short introduction by Gilles Clement expanding upon the work of Blok and of flower art in the eyes of 1920s photographers such as Karl Blossfeldt. Blok was a pioneer of colour photography in the Netherlands. He experimented with panoramic formats and new techniques. Some of the images are small, single flowers, predominantly tulips. In the groups of flowers, the tulips are arranged their bent stems having purpose and reminiscent of Blossfeldt's work. Sometimes the name of the tulip is given, but no other information. Since many of these tulips are still grown today, it would have been an idea to include a little information. Narcissus also feature in the book as well as Dahlias, Hyacinthus, Iris, Gladiolus, Muscari, Allium and Eremurus. These photographs represent the advances in new technology, new beginnings and discoveries and this is a wonderful book that shares the recording of these plants.

    Images courtesy of and copyright www.hatjecantz.de


  • Garden Design Solutions by Stephen Woodhams


    Garden Design Solutions by Stephen Woodhams, hardback published by Jacqui Small. ISBN 9781910254028, price 25.00 available from www.quartoknows.com/brand/1026/Jacqui-Small/

    In the introduction of this book, Stephen talks about the 'communication and language of gardens' and I immediately felt an affinity. Garden design is all about choosing the right materials, hardware and plants to suit a given lifestyle and purpose. He shares the details of garden design. The book is divided into chapters Planning & Designing, Scale & Proportion, Textures & Surfaces (my favourite bit), Features & Focal Points ( a failure of many gardens), Garden Rooms, Planting plus resources and index. The book, like a garden, is a journey through contemporary garden design. Discover the essentials of putting together a garden design, no matter what you want from it, or where you live. This book with its many examples, sound advice and practical solutions will provide you with the possibility of creating a stunning garden. It shows many examples of design, answers to questions such as layout, levels, irrigation, lighting and so much more. It's filled with fabulous illustrations and gardens you'll love.

  • Top 10 Tulips

    This is very hard for me to choose just 10 as I love tulips more than any other bulb. I tend to be guided by my love of colour and not by the tulip types. I am not particularly attracted to the fringed types but I adore the parrots. For almost 2,500 Tulips with almost 200 photos, get yourself a copy of my ebook with fabulous photos and descriptions from the website

    In no particular order:

    1. Tulipa 'Black Parrot'

    2. Tulipa 'Black Hero'

    3. Tulipa 'Princes Irene'

    4. Tulipa 'Rococo'

    5. Tulipa 'Monsella'

    6. Tulipa whittallii

    7. Tulipa 'Vivax'

    8. Tulipa 'Maytime'

    9. Tulipa 'Apricot Parrot'

    10. Tulipa 'Ballerina'

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2015

  • Little Bites by Christine Chitnis and Sarah Waldman


    Little Bites by Christine Chitnis and Sarah Waldman, softback published by Roost Books. ISBN 9781611801774, price 17.99, available in the UK through PGUK

    My first reaction was 'wow I'd like to eat that', but this book is aimed at children to wean them off packaged snacks and fill them with goodies. At the same time teach them to share those goodies, because you WILL want to tuck in too. 100 great vegetarian snacks for all the family. Good food habits start at home and this is an excellent idea to educate your child's palette, tastes and get them involved in cooking too. The book feels good, looks good and does you good. It's full of homely photos, great ingredients and recipes. You'll also find great ideas for cutting the cost of produce - buy in bulk or join a local gardening community. There's an essential cupboard list and a favourite produce list. You can see at a glance if recipes are gluten, nut or dairy free to help with any allergy sufferers. There's also information about how and why the food will be good for you. You can also see if they are baby friendly. The chapters are split into seasons and the recipes are well, mouth-watering. I love Asparagus fries (would never have thought of that), Yogurt-Granola Cups (but too much sugar), Leek Fritters, all those strawberry recipes and that's just spring. Inventive, tasty and good for you - who could ask for more?

  • Top Ten Autumn Leaf Colour

    The leaves are changing colour. Brilliant buttery golds, glowing oranges, stunning reds, burgundy, russets and browns and purples abound. They look fantastic against blue skies. Many beautiful Japanese maples turn red; the autumn foliage of purple types can deepen. It's mainly deciduous trees that are affected. They need a winter rest to conserve energy because there is not enough sunshine to produce chlorophyll. The reds appear as they are trapped glucose in the leaves. For gold colouring it is hard to beat the conifers as temperatures drop. It's not just trees but also shrubs that colour up. Even hardy perennials such as Geranium can colour up well too.

    I've always wanted to go to Westonbirt at this time of year, but have to content myself with street trees and trees in local gardens. If there is an arboretum near you, trees and shrubs at this time of year are a stunning sight.

    Not in any specific order

    1. Gingko for gold

    2. Acer, Japanese maple for red and orange

    3. Cotinus - the purples turn red, the green leaved ones turn orange

    4. Rhus typhina - the spectacular stag's horn sumach is a real favourite - it's not just the colour, but the way the leaves line up along the branches - golds, oranges. Surplus suckers are easily removed and this is worth growing.

    5. Vaccinium - reds

    6. Quercus - the oaks turn a golden brown

    7. Cornus - the twiggy stems can be vibrant red or yellow and last all winter

    8. Amelanchier canadensis

    9. Liquidambar styraciflua - try 'Worplesdon' for a magnificent autumn crimson display

    10. Ash - Fraxinus americana 'Autumn Purple' will give reddish-purple colour in September.

    Golden autumn foliage is featured in my book Gold Fever, buy online at half price by entering the code 50OFF

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2015


  • Top Ten Late Perennials

    Late perennials are such a joy. They provide colour at a time when it is so needed when everything else is fading fast. Combined with ornamental grasses, they can really shine. They might come into flower as early as July or even June, but they have staying power and will last until the first frosts.

    Where frosts occur, dig up the tubers of Cannas and Dahlias, clean and store frost free to set into growth again the following year.

    Think the last days of the setting sun, a frivolous party of colour to go out with a bang. Brilliant colours to vie with flaming sunsets. The embers of dying fires. Swathes of glorious perennials in gentle or bold colours. Think Piet Oudolf.

    The images are not in any particular order and there are two dahlias. I could have chosen so many more. Salvias are a favourite but often flower so late that the first frosts nip them before they have got started here in the north.

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2015

    1. Aster

    2. Sedum

    3. Eucomis

    4. Echinacea

    5. Perovskia

    6. Dahlia

    7. Rudbeckia

    8. Canna

    9. Achillea

    10. Helenium

    I've got your colours covered. Whether you love black plants, green flowers, gold or silver foliage, orange flowers and butterscotch foliage, lavenders, tulips or iris I've written the garden book for you. Just now there's half price on all printed books when you enter 50OFF at checkout


  • Plants and Flowers in Lincoln

    A trip to Lincoln revealed plenty of evidence that autumn is on its way. Leaves were falling in the gentle breeze. Large conkers were hanging from branches; seed pods and berries hanging down, the late summer light shining through leaves as well as the decaying process.

    September always has one foot still in summer and late summer perennials were still providing colour. Echinacea planted with Echinops and Perovskia, making a dream threesome. Pink Asters found a colour echo for their golden centres in Achillea.

    Large containers were planted up in the city centre with flamboyant petunias and other basket-type summer annuals such as Bacopa and Fuchsia. Bedding was dotted around the city with Pelargonium, Rudbeckia, Solenostemon (Coleus) and Diascia interspersed with silvery Senecio and Ricinus (castor oil plant) taking pride of place. Zinnias were evident in oranges and reds - the hot late summer combination.

    Private gardens are always a source of inspiration and I found a Ficus carica (fig) and a lovely combination of Cotinus and Rudbeckia as well as a Hibiscus. A beautiful Buddleja peeped over a wall.

    At the Old Bishop's Museum I discovered a contemporary garden planted with rows of trees, dahlias, roses, acanthus and lavender as well as a vineyard. I also visited the Arboretum and took many images of trees.

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2015

  • London Out Of Sight


    London Out Of Sight, paperback published by Black Dog Publishing. ISBN 78-1907317965, price 9.5 available from www.blackdogonline.com

    Explore green spaces in London and find calm amid one of the busiest capital's in the world. Find lesser known spaces where you can chill from the busy office or shopping spree. The book is split into Central, North, East, West and South London with around a dozen spaces in each category. Each section starts with a map, showing the spaces and nearest tube stations. Descriptions include access information, entry fees if applicable, historical facts and notes on plants. The varied spaces include church grounds, conservatories, walled gardens, parks, city farms and community gardens. It is beautifully illustrated throughout.  If like me, you often have an hour or two on your hands waiting for a train, or interview, with a copy of this book you could be contemplating life in quieter surroundings. Repose, relax or discover and learn. Encounter ancient trees, plants, biodiversity, wildlife, gravestones and sculpture. Who would not want to find time to treasure the open heaths, ancient woodlands, shared gardens and green spaces of London? As an avid gardener, I was surprised to find that I have only visited four of the spaces in the book. That's something I must amend. Highly recommended. Excellent for those who work in London and those who visit.

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