Specimen plants are traditionally semi-mature, large sized trees and shrubs that are used to create central features in gardens or focal points in a landscape. They can often be bespoke and can represent a real investment. It’s important to think about the environment where you will plant your specimen, to make sure it is entirely suited to its location. Whether you are planting a standard tree or a multistem, make sure you get your spot right! Winter is a great time to consider planting most specimens, increasing availability due to field grown products and potentially saving some money as containerised specimens are usually more expensive. It is important that, once planted, your specimen is well cared for. Soil preparation is very important, plant as soon as you can after receiving your specimen, use tree supports where necessary and consider carefully the need for aftercare. At Palmstead we have a wide selection of specimens available. We appreciate the time it can take trying to find that ideal specimen so, wherever possible we record 360 degree videos of each specimen so you can order the exact one you want online from the comfort of your own home! Visit our online specimen section today and take advantage of our generous web discount!



Last week I made the decision to brave the Christmas crowds and do some much-needed shopping. As an Ashford resident I opted for our ‘famous’ Designer Outlet. This was my first visit since they developed and expanded the shopping centre.
As a horticulturist however, I found myself more interested in their amazing installation of green walls rather than the shops themselves! I have to admit – the new area is looking very impressive… It was such a great idea to make use of the ‘dead’ space around the outlet and it has been beautifully designed. I would love to see all towns embracing this in the future! I also analysed the plants used in the green wall which, so far, are performing exceptionally well. You can find there a mixture of ground cover, evergreen shrubs, perennials, ferns and grasses. I noticed pink flowering Bergenia, the white daisies of Erigeron, blue Campanula, Erysimum, the beautiful foliage of Heuchera, Epimedium, Hedera, small evergreen Euonymus, Liriope, variegated Pachysandra, lots of different varieties of ferns and much, much more!
If you are interested in green walls, I highly recommend a visit to this shopping centre. It is interesting to see how they have been planted and how well they are performing, and I am sure it can act as an inspiration for many future projects!





Carefully selecting the perfect time to venture outside on a weekend where the weather was less than pleasant, one of our team travelled to Sissinghurst to explore the fabulous house and gardens. Here are some photos of the new restoration project, designed by Dan Pearson, which aims to restore some of the spirit of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West back to the gardens.



September is a beautiful time of the year. Autumn is officially here, but it’s not too cold yet and my weekend walks are still pleasant. We can still enjoy all the late flowering perennials and evergreens, however, what I love most about September is the transition from summer to autumn and all the changes it brings. Green leaves turn to all shades of reds, oranges and yellows; plants produce beautiful berries that will provide food for wildlife later in the year. You can clearly see how nature is changing. Just take a look at the lovely photos of Parrotia, Rhus, Parthenocissus and Sorbus taken at Palmstead. The colours are so rich and special. Autumn is also a great time for planting and if you are thinking of introducing some new varieties to your outdoor space then why not try something with extraordinary autumnal colour!




Hypericum is a fantastic plant to create a naturalistic and informal medium height hedge. Its main feature are the masses of beautiful, big, yellow flowers that appear continuously from July to October attracting pollinators galore. However, these flowers are closely rivalled by the display of berries that follow which can create real interest in the garden. The berries are traditionally red but can be found in other colours such as white and peach! Hypericum add a bright, sunny, warm and often contrasting look in a mixed or shrub border and with many varieties to choose from, with various overall heights, you can use them for a number of purposes. It’s been successfully used in urban planting, where both aesthetics and low maintenance are much appreciated and this plant certainly provides both! Below is a photo from the area where I live and shows how lovely a Hypericum hedge can look. My summer walks are made all the more pleasant thanks to the humble Hypericum!




When I visit new places I always try to observe and admire local plants and planting and this is especially fun when visiting places outside of the UK. I have just returned from a fantastic holiday in Turkey where the flora was absolutely magnificent. I have never seen such an amazing multistem Nerium oleander in my life! I wasn’t even aware that they can grow in this form. It’s such a shame that due to Xylella in Europe we may see less and less of these in the UK in years to come . I saw beautiful Bougainvillea growing everywhere, lovely Pittosporum tobira hedges, palm trees, massive Olive trees, impressive Agaves planted on the road sides and many more exotics that we don’t often see in our climate. It’s nice to go away from time to time to relax and explore the world!




Another lovely spring walk and another beautiful part of the town. It’s so enjoyable to discover such pretty hidden alleys like the one in this photo. I couldn’t help myself and had to take a picture. May is definitely my favourite time of the year. Although it’s not as warm as I would expect, the plants, colours and scents of the various flowers in bloom make up for the lower temperatures!




It was a Tulip Festival last week at Hever Castle and Gardens. I went to visit on Sunday to see how the plants are emerging. It’s so colourful and beautiful everywhere. The amazing Italian garden has been beautifully decorated using many varieties of tulips. It is so bright, full of life and positive energy. Spending time around plants is probably my favourite option for a weekend. Apart from the formal part, Hever has a very impressing woodland garden. Bluebells and wild garlic create a magical lawn along the walk paths. Beautiful old Azaleas and Rhododendrons brighten up the shady corners. Emerging fern fronds and tree ferns add a very mysterious feel to the area. If you don’t have plans for the upcoming weekend maybe a trip to Hever is a good option for you too?




A spring walk is always a great idea. It’s a great way to escape from life’s daily stresses, soaking up some of the first warmth of the year and seeing all the colour emerging from the dark, wintery landscape. You can stop and watch as nature wakes up around you. It’s an unmatched feeling when you can finally enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, see trees bursting into leaf, smell the emergent flowers or watch the birds nesting. This time of the year definitely improves the mood and is great for our sense of wellbeing. Last weekend I enjoyed a spring walk around the area where I live. It was such a pleasant time seeing all the flowers in bloom…beautiful flowering Cherries, Forsythias, Daffodils, Bluebells, Anemones, Primroses… all looking absolutely stunning as you can see from my photographs. If you have not immersed yourself in spring yet then go and explore the great outdoors this weekend and make the most of this beautiful season.




Last Sunday was first real sunny day in March, so I decided to take an advantage of it and spend the day at Sissinghurst Gardens to see how the spring was emerging there. I was very surprised just how colourful it looks already. Spring has definitely sprung there… You can enjoy beautiful flowering bulbs, perennials and trees everywhere. From many varieties of Narcissus and innumerable colours of Primulas to beautifully scented Hyacinths, Euphorbias, pink Erysimum, amazing Magnolia trees and many more.




Last weekend I had an amazing opportunity to spend time on the 36th floor of one of the tallest buildings in the heart of London, Sky Garden. It is a unique public tropical roof garden 160m above the Thames that offers extraordinary 360-degree views across the City of London. The panoramic view is absolutely breath-taking and the tropical garden that has been created on top of this building is extremely impressive. The planting is dominated by drought resistant Mediterranean and South African species of plants and trees. Amongst the flowering plants are stunning Agapanthus, Kniphofia and Strelitzia. Dramatic palm trees, majestic tree ferns, big fig trees, beautiful Eriobotryas and much more can be seen planted there. If you ever have an opportunity to visit this place, I guarantee that you will remember it forever.




Spring is in the air which means beautiful sunshine and flowers!
From Narcissus through Primulas to the first cherry blossom… and yes… Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ is flowering already! The beautiful white flowers of Prunus spinosa can also be seen covering the hedgerows which always signals the end of winter.
Over the last few days my journey to work got more and more exciting as I can see the landscape coming back to life…




Topiary is the art of clipping plants into ornamental shapes. It is an extreme example of the gardener’s desire to ‘reshape nature’ (there aren’t any plants that naturally form the symmetrical shapes that can be found in topiary gardens!) The best topiary garden I have visited so far is Levens Hall. It’s an amazing and impressing home to the world’s oldest ‘clip art’. A fantastic, surreal collection of ancient box and yew trees clipped to unique, abstract shapes. If you ever travel to the Lake District area then this is a garden that you must visit!




So far February has been absolutely amazing here in Kent. We have been spoilt with warm days, beautiful sunshine and non-stop birdsong; it really feels like early spring! Seeing Crocuses and snowdrops everywhere makes me feel energized and ready for what 2019 has to offer! This time last year we were experiencing really low temperatures; it was difficult to work outdoors and in late February we were hit with the ‘Beast from the East’. This February couldn’t be more different and I hope this weather continues! Winter is in its final act for another year and spring is waiting in the wings and I couldn’t be happier!




This year Palmstead visited IPM in Essen, Germany. IPM is known for being the world’s leading trade show for anything horticultural. The show had 1577 exhibitors from 45 different countries, with an expected 54,000 trade visitors across the 4 days the show is open for. The show was a chance for the company to make valuable contacts from across Europe in terms of plant and technology supply. Another one of the aims of the visit was, as always, to look for new products and technology that will help us to improve the quality of the plants that we are producing, but also to look at any new plants or varieties that are looking like they will be up and coming over the next few years.




The Palmstead Soft Landscape Workshop last week was a great success. It was a pleasure to see so many people braving the winter weather for a day of inspiration and though provoking lectures. We had the largest number of exhibitors we have ever had and it would have been difficult to have to squeezed anymore delegates in! Thank you to everyone who attended, exhibited or spoke. Collaboration, one of the main themes for the workshop was clearly demonstrated through the interaction of everyone on the day and we feel the Palmstead Hub logo says it all – It’s about education, inspiration, networking, technical information, industry and practice.




Have I just seen a few snowflakes outside my window? Personally I love ‘proper’ snow. This is a throwback to last winter and the huge amount of snow we got at the beginning of March. That was so unexpected! Snow looks lovely, the whole nursery looked magical and very picturesque. Unfortunately this beautiful weather phenomena is not always perfect for the industry. Last year it paralysed our business for about a week. We had to stop deliveries as it was too dangerous to drive, pickers couldn’t pick, production team couldn’t do their jobs, gardeners and landscapers didn’t plant anything as the ground was frozen…The late snow delayed spring by a month as well which wasn’t ideal! I’d love to see the snow again this year, but perhaps in January/February when it’s actually expected instead of early spring!




Over the Christmas period I visited Bicester Village. It is a shopping centre, but to see the effort that had gone into their floral displays was absolutely amazing. They had created a very inspiring English Country Garden space. I was really impressed with the creativity and attention to detail. True rural, cottage style, beautifully planted containers and vintage decorations. They used lots of seasonal interest such as Conifers, Hellebores, Heathers, Skimmias, Cammelias, aromatic herbs and much more. Bicester Village is full of ideas that you can bring to life in your own garden. I loved the metal pots, bird cages and vintage bikes with baskets full of plants. If you are a fan of cottage gardens this will definitely inspire you!




I visited Waddesdon Manor near Oxford last month and I have to say, it was a magical experience! I was so lucky to see the fantastic light festival by dark. The display was absolutely amazing. All the trees and shrubs were beautifully lit up with a rainbow of colours. The lights were playfully combined with sound and movement. It was an incredibly inspiring show. Imagine your garden with a wonderfully lit up specimen or multistem. It adds so much drama, texture and mystery to any outdoor space.




Vertical planting. Doesn’t it look amazing? I recently saw this building in London and felt very inspired by it. I definitely believe we should create more green spaces like this in our urban environments. Imagine how beneficial planting like this is for our health, wildlife and happiness? If you attended our 2018 Soft Landscape Workshop you will probably remember that we spoke a lot about vertical planting. Every time I see a green wall (like this one in London)I feel positive that together we can make our urban environments greener. If you would like to find out more about greening our urban environments then Andrew Wilson will be speaking at our 2019 Workshop on 23 Jan on this topic (and hopefully will be showing some fantastic vertical planting!)