Designing a garden

Just over a year after my first meeting with Alex, her new garden is built and planted up. And, of course this is where the fun starts. Waiting for spring for all the bulbs to emerge, heralding the start of a new gardening year in a brand new garden.

Alex had inherited a garden of long thin strips. Two thin borders either side, a thin concrete path and a slightly less thin lawn which stopped just short of the shed at the end of the garden. This all contributed to give the impression of a narrow, long garden with a shed as the focal point. Now I love a good shed but it’s not the thing you want your eye to be drawn to as soon as you look out the kitchen window.

The garden did have some pluses. A mature wisteria near the patio, some mature shrubs and in the borrowed landscape of the surrounding gardens some lovely trees that framed the garden.

In discussion with Alex, the brief was to create a journey through the garden, build a pergola to show off the lovely wisteria and to disguise the shed as best as possible. Plants were important. So was a small lawn. In discussion about where the sun fell in the garden the idea was raised to create a small patio area half way up the garden as a stopping off point to sit with a cup of coffee and benefit from the afternoon sun.

Design for the new garden

Armed with the brief I set out to create a garden that tied these elements together into a coherent whole. The late victorian, three story, semi detached house is built of beautiful London brick with a red brick detail. This was the starting point for the design. To tie the house to the garden I designed a brick path that runs through the garden.

Brick detail on original outhouse and new brick path

Brick stepping stones across the lawn lead to the sunny patio and onward past generous flower beds to the working end of the garden. In front of the shed a new gravel area houses two compost bins and a raised bed for growing veg. This area will, in time, be screened by a beech hedge. Three small trees will also help to divert the eye from the shed. These will be beautiful throughout the year with either blossom, fruit, coloured stems or fiery autumn foliage. New plants will create borders full of interest from early spring to late autumn and will attract wildlife to the garden.

Looking back towards the house

The layout of the garden with the path zig zagging towards the shed draws the eye to the borders and opens up the garden to reveal a much larger space. Once the new plants have established and filled out there will be waves of plants as you walk through the garden. The border in front of the new patio will have taller see-through planting of grasses, Verbena bonariensis and elegant Veronicastrum virginicum which will create a new ‘room’ to sit and relax.

New teak pergola and wisteria

I am helping to look after the garden for the first year of it’s life to help make sure it establishes happily. I am looking forward to seeing it develop as the years go by. Gardens are living, changing things and this is just the start of this garden’s existence which I hope brings happiness to Alex and her family.

1 thought on “Designing a garden”

  1. How amusing that it is s square to the house, which is what makes it not square to the fence. I do not do design, so prefer plain symmetry and squareness. I would have had it all square to the fences and angled to the house like it was. Being diagonal to the fences is of course more relaxed, but the squareness to the house is almost a mockery of a craving for squareness. It is the squareness that makes in not square. (I don’t mean to be redundant. It is just an odd concept to try to explain.)


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