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The L’Occitane Garden #1: Designing your own Blossom Garden

Have you seen my new collaboration with the amazing L’Occitane brand? In our new series we have teamed up to bring you inspiration on creating three different garden styles. The first one which you can read here is all about the power of blossoms as design inspiration!

As a designer I love gardens which have put thought into early flowering. Not only is it a spectacular addition to the garden from an aesthetic perspective, it’s also an important source of nectar and pollen for pollinators such as bees. Trees like almonds, flowering cherries and magnolias or fruit trees such as apples, cherries and pears and climbers such as clematis, wisteria and rose are a massive draw for many beneficial insects and add serious wow factor to the garden. Even smaller gardens can benefit from some blossom additions. Whether a flowering tree in a small container on a balcony or vertically planted climbers such as a wisteria climbing on the wall of a house, there are plenty of creative ways of adding a little blossom to your life.

Create your own L’Occitane inspired blossom garden

I bet you’re dreaming of scented blossoms now- I certainly am! If you love the ideas of designing a part of your garden around the idea of blossoming beauties like the almond- or even just including some decadent blooms for Spring- here’s some ideas for creating a Provençal L’Occitane inspired blossom garden right here. 


Tip 1. Start with a hero tree 

A hero tree aims to be the stunning focal point of your scheme and can become a central visual feast for the eyes (and the table if you’re lucky). I love the idea of falling in love with a tree and allowing it to take centre stage. A perfect choice would be the almond tree with its soft petals and honey scent and gorgeous velvety, leafy green. These trees also have a good autumn colour which is a huge bonus later in the year.  If you have your hero tree sorted then everything else can follow. Colour, size, texture- the hero tree is the core of the concept. 


Tip 2. Follow through on your blossom concept

Now that you’ve started with the idea of a blossom garden- commit! Think romance in flower, frothiness and confetti blooms. If you want to add some additional trees to really embrace the blossom concept  think about a variety of blossom shapes. Maybe add some trees with frothy star shapes such as the Magnolia stellata . Add some dramatic candle shaped blooms with Magnolia × soulangeana and maybe even the bowl shaped flowering Magnolia ‘Genie’ .  TIP: If you only have a small balcony to work with then a wonderful tree is the Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-Mai’ – a gorgeous little miniature tree which is ideal for the container.  


Tip 3. Add some blossom shrubs

When it comes to flowers the May/June flowering Cornus kousa var. chinensis is super floriferous and has stunning autumn colour too while Philalelphus shrubs bring the most divine scent to the garden- like bubblegum jasmine! I adore the varieties ‘Viginal’ and the smaller ‘Snowbelle’ which is ideal for planters and balconies.   Smaller shrubs for blossom include the romantic Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Moerloosei’ and and if it’s scent you’re after the evergreen Choisya × dewitteana ‘Aztec Pearl’ is a super choice as it smells like orange blossom! 

One of my all time favourites are the pop-pom flowers of the Hydrangea  It doesn’t get much more romantic than this shade loving shrub and Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Early Rosa’ and  Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blushing Bride’ are two great choices. 

In sunnier areas the combination of frothy Stipa tenuissima grasses teamed with baby’s breath- Gypsophila ‘Rosenschleier’  and Achillea filipendulina ‘Cloth of Gold’ picks up on the soft feel as well as adding little cheery L’Occitane yellow and looks almost like the gorgeous Immortelle which goes into many of the gorgeous L’Occitane products.


4. Add some structure and texture

Now that we have an abundance of blooms the scheme will want to be pulled together with structure and texture. The addition of some evergreen accents under the trees and shrubs will be a good start. When it comes to sunnier areas creeping Rosemary (Rosmarinus prostatus)  is hard to beat. This shrub truly works with everything and is perfectly provençal in feel- my all time favourite sun loving ground cover- and that scent! 

For shade loving ground covering under the trees how about adding some evergreen fern texture? Polystichum and Blechnum varieties are good starting points and for unusual red accents try Blechnum brasiliense ‘Volcano’. For a lush evergreen creeping groundover Vinca minor f. alba ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is a wonderful choice and very easy to maintain and little accent areas of Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’ echo the blosssom feel of the trees in more shaded areas in the most delicate way. 

The final touch here is my favourite grass for growing in shade and light sun- the Hakonechloa macra– a stunning arching soft grass which grows in mounds and softens a scheme perfectly- pulling it all together in a rich, emerald green. 

For smaller containers nothing beats lots of evergreen Saxifraga urbium-the tiny star like flowers are as frothy as they are delicate-top choice for balcony containers.


5. Don’t forget bulbs & vertical plants

To make the most of the blossom season think about adding masses of spring bulbs. I adore the soft scent and look of white hyacinths such as the Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Carnegie‘  teamed with white crocus in early spring and daffodils such as the richly scented Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’, Narcissus ‘Ice King’ and Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’ are all wonderfully ruffled and almost pom-pom in shape. 

In vertical accents the climbing Trachelospermum jasminoides is always a good bet in sunny spots with its amazing scent and endless flowers and the Jasminum officinale is unbeatable for scent in a container on the warm balcony. The vigorous evergreen Clematis ‘Apple Blossom’ is scented and a great choice beside a door or window and finally- nothing beats the Wisteria sinensis  for decadent frothy lilac blooms.  

Have fun! 





Check out the full article over on the L’Occitane website and keep an eye on my site also where  I’ll be adding some extra tips and inspiration.

FOLLOW @L’Occitane and @leonie.cornelius for lots of inspiration on gardens and beauty AND to be in with a chance to win a few almond products.





Photo By: Colin Gillen

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