The Beginnings Of A Garden
Should your garden have a “Crime Scene – Do Not Enter!” Sign? Concrete pavers surrounded by weeds outside your bifold doors? Overgrown lawn beyond with the odd faded plastic child’s toy, a broken trampoline, or perhaps a slightly bent Swingball in the distance? A few dead plants in pots covered in algae and a slightly rusty BBQ that you think you might have used last summer? Any of this sound familiar? Fear not my friend! I’m here to rescue you from your garden nightmare. Over the next year or so, I’m going to be designing and creating my own garden. I’m going to start at the very beginning of garden design and show you everything I do and how you can do it too. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, or how big your garden is, this blog is for everyone.
The Basics Of Garden Design
Now, you’re not going to get all the answers today because, well, to be completely honest, I haven’t even started yet, but if you follow along on here and on my Instagram page: @jpslifeandloves then together we can start to create something beautiful that we can be proud of.
I’m going to tell you everything I know in the most basic of terms. I will bust that jargon and dispel those myths and help you feel that you can indeed design your own garden. I’ve designed many gardens over the years. I’m not a professional, I’ve just learned through trial and error over time. Not everything I do will be the “correct” way of doing things, but more, the way that it works for me.
Designing a garden can be a daunting task and, most of the time, people have absolutely no idea where to begin. More often than not, that results in a “rabbit in the headlights” moment where people subconsciously decide to leave it for another day. Of course, that day never comes and your outside space joins the multitude of dull, neglected, uninspiring spaces up and down the country.
Our new walled garden has Victorian origins and, indeed, some of the original planting is still there, albeit hidden by a mass of brambles and weeds! In the ‘90s the owners called upon a garden designer to help them and some of that work is still evident today, again under a blanket of overgrowth though.
When we first viewed the house and garden, my initial thoughts were first of pure joy at the idea of a walled garden. It’s many people’s dream, I know. Walking down the garden I became aware that there was no “journey”. I could see the length and breadth of the entire space from almost any angle. I’d say most people’s gardens are like this. Therefore, there is no reason to venture, to explore the space. Why would you? You can see all of it from the house. That is the first big mistake of all garden designs. If your garden doesn’t make you want to wander down it and spend time there, then why should anyone else want to bother?
That day on our first viewing, I turned to Mr C, my hubby, and said: “This garden needs to have diagonals!” He looked at me quizzically and said: “Like a chess board?” Well, sort of, but not quite. What I meant was that it is currently a very long rectangle that can be seen from all angles. It requires a design that uses diagonal markings and structures that obscure the view, that divert your eye, so that you can no longer see the garden in its entirety. That way, you will be encouraged to venture down its path to see what lies beyond.
The use of diagonals will be both two and three dimensional. Some will be on ground level, such as brick border edges and paths, some will be in the form of pergolas and hedging. I had this idea that through all of this you would be able to see a focal point in the distance, a sculpture maybe? That focal point would act as a point of interest that the garden adventurer would want to inspect at a closer distance. It would make them want to walk down the garden. At the same time, the 3D diagonals would hide surprises along the way – a white border, for example, or a place to sit and read.
One day, not long after we moved in, we heard a knock at the door. Two rosey cheeked, slightly buxom women were standing there, all smiles and apple pie bright eyes. They had found a wallet belonging to the previous owner’s son. We told them he didn’t live there anymore, but that we could take it and I would call them to let them know. They agreed and the wallet was safely given back to its owner.
In doing so, I spoke for the very first time to the people we bought our house from. He was extremely friendly and told me quite a bit of history about the house and garden. A few weeks later a brown paper folder appeared in our entrance porch. It was filled with drawings – garden designs for our walled garden. They had been done in the 1990s and, from first viewing, it was clear that some of the work had already been carried out.
It turns our that the garden designer the owners had instructed had come up with a design that would use diagonals! I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was like I was looking at my ideas for the garden drawn by someone else thirty years earlier. Was I a time traveller? Am I secretly the gardening equivalent of Dr Who? There’s a TV series idea for ya!
The ‘90s Garden Design
So, some of the design is a little bit “Ground Force” – if you remember that TV show? There’s a tad more than a soupçon of blue painted furniture and I swear I can see Charlie Dimmock’s ample bosom nestling underneath one of the shrub drawings! However, the basics are there and a lot of the ideas are good. There’s even a splash pool drawn in the exact place I would like to put ours – if Mr C allows it!
The use of diagonals is a little too simplistic for me. I want the lines to be blurred and softened by planting and perhaps be interrupted by diverting paths and borders. I’m so not sure how it’s all going to pan out, but that’s the joy of it, isn’t it? We can all work things out together as we go along. I have to admit though, it’s great to get a head start with these drawings. I will be using them as the basis for my design. Soon, I will be measuring the garden boundaries and drawing it up on paper. When I do this I will show you. After that, I’ll be starting the design process itself and I can’t wait to take you on the journey with me.
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