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A medium sized garden with a fairly traditional planting mix of shrubs and herbaceous perennials. Here in the first season after planting the herbaceous plants are already making a good show; it generally takes a little longer for the slower growing shrubs to catch up and form the balanced framework within which the perennials will later be displayed.
Banking around the terrace and fencing around the swimming pool originally acted as a deterrant to enjoyment of this large garden. The re-design overcame this by making access to both the pool area and the rest of the garden much more inviting. Wall seats both retain levels and provide occasional informal seating, while wide steps invite exploration to areas beyond.
After one full season the planting is already providing ample softening to the hard construction elements.
Another fairly typical garden behind a new home, as left by the developers. There is a significant slope to be dealt with and the gardens' aspect means that only the top end of the garden receives the afternoon and evening sun. Not all of my clients choose to make use of the full design service. In this case they were keen to carry out their own planting but wanted help getting the structure of the garden right. The second photograph was taken just after the construction and plant bed preparation work had been completed. In the second season since handover the clients' planting is beginning to mature.
Here above, a stone seat is partially hidden by drifts of Alchemilla mollis tumbling over the paving and lawn. This style of planting right next to a lawn will inevitably damage the grass edges as it spills over, but creates a very soft feel to the garden. We established early on that my clients were willing to carry out the extra work necessary to maintain this effect. The last photograph shows one of the transitional paths between the different garden spaces. By curving the path through the rose-covered arch one creates a degree of mystery about what lies beyond, encouraging further exploration.
When I first visited this site it comprised only a set of semi-derelict barns around a neglected large courtyard. Once the barns had been converted, the courtyard garden was split up into four main areas largely hidden from each other by planting. Each of these areas possesses a slightly different character in terms of both layout and planting, although there are also some linking themes.
Not all gardens concentrate focus internally. This view shows a transitional area between more formal gardens and the wider landscape. Sweeping rough cut lawns divide areas of wild flower planting and lead the eye towards the large pond. Planting comprises a mixture of native and semi-ornamental trees and shrubs, which rise in scale and merge towards the trees in the countryside beyond. Careful plant choice around the pond ensures winter interest from a variety of bark colours. These shrubs are managed to maintain this colour at a height that reflects in the water, particularly well on bright and still winter days like this one.
In contrast with the pond in garden 9 which was created using a liner, this area was a naturally boggy offshoot from a small stream. This picture taken just after de-silting, shows how we made use of the available machinery to place some large framing rocks around the resulting pond. Three years on the garden has matured somewhat, with copious growth of water weed and pond-side planting. Being naturally fed, the water level can vary considerably. The curved steps on the right of the picture were therefore built leading right down into the pond ensuring that one can always get right to the waters' edge.
This garden was owned by clients who loved sitting in the sun. Unfortunately their main patio area around the house lost the sun fairly early-on in the day. In this new design the main sitting area was consequently moved out to the sunniest part of the garden (here visible in the first picture) and raised slightly to give it extra visual importance within the scheme.
Not everyone who visited the garden liked sitting in the sun however, with some family members actively shunning it. We therefore made use of the only plants retained in the garden, three small trees, to provide shade for this alternative seating area. In the final photograph below one can see the small transitional terrace (outside the French windows from the living room); large enough for a couple of chairs, but small enough to encourage movement through the area to larger spaces beyond.
All images and plans © Martyn Gingell 1985-2017