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Ben MacDonald Gardens


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Ben MacDonald Gardens


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Ben MacDonald Gardens


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Winter – Spring Gardening Tips

Here are some useful tips to help keep your gardens thriving through winter and into early spring.

If you would like to receive more seasonal tips, news updates as well as exclusive special offers from Ben  please sign up to our newsletter here.

Tree’s and Shrubs

  • Plant when conditions permit
  • Mulch borders
  • Cut out dead and damaged wood
  • Formative prune deciduous shrubs and trees
  • Start Coppicing and pollarding
  • Take hardwood cuttings
  • Protect non hardy shrubs
  • Divide Shrubs


  • Plant when conditions permit
  • tie in loosened shoot
  • CArry out second stage pruning of Wisteria
  • Late winter carry of formative pruning and training
  • prune plants that flower on new wood
  • Take cutting


  • Plant all Roses
  • Renewal prune shrub Roses
  • In late winter cut back


  • Plant hardy perennials
  • Protect non hardy


  • protect from severe frosts ensuring a small area remains frost free by using a ball on the surface


  • Prepare site for new lawns
  • Lay weather permitting
  • Mow established if necessary
  • Clear fallen leaves
  • Service mowers and tools

Veg Garden

  • Finish digging and manuring
  • Prepare seedbeds for spring sowing
  • Stake and protect
  • Late winter set potatoes to sprout indoors

Fruit Garden

  • Plant tree, bush, cane and vine in prepared ground
  • Apply fertiliser late winter/Winter prune autumn flowering raspberries.
  • Tip prune summer fruiting berries

Paving and Decking

  • Pressure wash and clean up

Our new logo and web Site launch

Here’s our new website.  I hope you find it interesting and informative. We have designed it to be  image based with short, informative text. We will keep it updated with on going projects and interesting images, articles, news and links. Please send me any feedback you may have. Thank you. Ben MacDonald

A giant pond converted into a natural lake – Dover, Kent

We are replacing the perished 25-year-old rubber liner in this pond with clay. So far we have emptied the water, tanked the fish, the water lilies and a lone 25-year-old Terrapin we found and are now in the process of removing the 1 metre of silt from the bottom. I will be posting updated pictures of the project from construction through to the planting.

The making of a woodland garden

The other day when visiting friends at their new home, a cottage on the edge of the Ashdown forest, I was so overcome with the perfect rambling beauty of their woodland garden I had to shed a tear. It was a warm and sunny spring day.

On arrival, my wife and children instantly scattered, the kids whooping, the wife clutching cold white wine. Laden with bags and muttering, I forced my way through an old garden gate and found myself in a woodland paradise.

The garden surrounded an old cottage, once home to families who had worked the now ruined windmill up on ‘the clump’, a craggy hill above me.

This plot had been well planned but not with aesthetic principles in mind. Straightforward practical motives were behind the planning and planting of this garden. Absolutely no ‘shooshing’ had ever occurred here, yet through time and human neglect, nature had created the most beautiful garden I had seen in years.

Ancient, well-worn paths curved through the garden leading you exactly where you needed to go. The well. The woodpile. The vegetable garden.

To protect from the wind, Scotts Pine, Pinus sylvestris and silver Birch, Betula pendula, had been planted. The Pine were now old and twisted, the Birch, tall and majestic, brand-new vivid lime green leaves shimmering brightly.

A natural hedge around the property, created many years ago when the land was cleared for the house directly out of woodland, provided a boundary of native wild trees and shrubs…Crab Apple, Malus sylvestris, Hawthorn, Crateagus monogyna, Bird Cherry, Prunus padus, the common Holly Ilex aquifolium and Field Maple Acer campestre,

Rambling through the garden, wild dog-rose’s, Rosa canina and arvensis, grew amongst ferns, brambles, and nettles. Wood anemones, wild garlic, primroses and dog violet flowered wildly.

Standing there, I was reminded of the simple beauty and natural balance of nature, and how I strive to replicate that simplicity and balance in the gardens I design.

I considered the importance of selecting plants primarily for their sustainability to their local environment. When I plant native species I’m creating links to the surrounding landscape. This, I realised is the first step in creating a garden as perfectly balanced as the one before me.

I notice I’m not alone anymore. My family and friends have come to find me.

“Ben, I want to ask your professional advise about our garden. What, in your expert opinion, do you think we need to do to this garden?’.

Blinking tears from my eyes I reply ‘Nothing….do nothing. Its perfect’

As I walk towards the house I hear a child ask “Mummy, why is Daddy crying?’

Dancing with Daffodils – A spring time story

I love our British Winters, but even a seasoned gardener such as myself started having dark thoughts by the end of February. I felt I was living within a ghost story, ghouls drifting in and out of the sea mist all around me.

Things had to change. Then the sun came out. I felt the warmth on my face. Looking down I noticed a fragile Crocus feebly waving at me from the lawn. A bright yellow Daffodil ordered me to cheer up. I felt a rush of inspiration to go forth and garden!

I sang with the birds. I merrily talked to the flowers. I was gardening again!

The first job was the tidy up. Quickly I removed all reminders of winter, uncovering fresh new buds and shoots.

Standing back I looked at the garden. I had planned to have something new occurring every week of the year. There would never be a shortage of colour, especially now in Spring.

Planted the last Autumn and situated in a part of the garden enjoyed from the house, the following simple planting combination provides beautiful contrasts of colour, texture, fragrance and shape from late Winter and through the Spring.

Vertical stems of the Dogwood Cornus siberica, flash bright red along side the bluish-green foliage and large, towering dome-shaped, lime-yellow flowers of the architectural perennial, Euphorbia characias subspecies Wulfenii “Lambrook Gold’.

Joining them is the flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum ‘Brocklebankii’. This shrub provides plenty of colour, both in spring when the pink flower trusses appear, and for the rest of the summer when its yellow foliage glows cheerfully in shadier areas of the border.

Providing the ground cover are the smoky purple flowers of Hellebore orientalis and the pure white heart shaped flowers of Dicentra spectablis ‘alba’ floating amongst graceful arching stems of Solomon seal, Polygonatum x hybridum, and the beautifully textured evergreen Shield Fern, Polystichum aculeatum.

Adding to the drama are the bulbs Daffodil Narcissus ‘Camelot’, its pure yellow, large, cupped flowers, borne singly on upright dark green stems and the gorgeous double Tulip ‘Angelique’. This Tulip’s outstanding blooms of soft blush pink deepen with age, a rich apple blossom ink developing at the edges, with green markings on the outside. Like all double Tulips, it needs some shelter to prevent wind and rain dashing the heavy blooms.

Planted amongst them are other treasures waiting to burst forth, but, for now, I happily enjoy the moment. I’m dancing with the Daffodils.

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