Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Creating a New Garden


It is always sad to leave behind a mature garden that has taken ten years to create and is now fully functional, i.e. shelter and privacy are in place, we have flowers all year round, the fruit trees give us more fruit than we can use and our two patios mean we can follow the sun around in those rare moments of relaxation.
However life does not stand still. Our needs are changing, as we approach retirement, (its only ever going to be a pleasant thought.) We no longer need a large house as family grow up and travel to the other end of the world, so a nice wee cottage somewhere but with a decent garden would be just right. I then have the task of bringing together a lifetime of growing my favourite plants and starting it all over again. The new garden must be functional so I will take time to design all the features so everything is in the right place from the beginning.
Everybody at some time or another has to confront the new garden and where you begin, whether it is a new build on a new estate with a nice turfed lawn but nothing else, or whether it is a garden left by a previous owner.
When I find my wee plot of potential paradise and start the landscape works I will keep my readers up to date with progress and hopefully pass on a few ideas. There will always be a few success stories mixed with a few disasters. I will try and keep the latter at a low level, but when the brains creativity kicks in anything can happen.


It is a good idea to make a list of all the things a garden must do. Include security around the perimeter if necessary, especially if you are next to a field full of cows or sheep. Shelter from winds from the south west is high on my list and a patio is an absolute essential as I do not want to be grafting in the garden on a hot sunny afternoon, and I will need somewhere to park my sun lounger.
On the practical side find a suitable spot for the outdoor rotary drier, the compost heap and a vegetable patch for some fresh greens and a few home grown chemical free spuds. A fruit garden is a must with room for an apple, pear and plum, and all the soft fruits. Then of course we must integrate space for a year round display of flowers with special emphasis around the entrance and patio areas.
I also like to create a winter garden to be seen from the comfort of the house during the cold dull days and usually fit in a bird table and water bath. Our blackie likes to shower every morning.
This all sounds very ambitious but with careful planning it is very surprising what you can fit into a small garden.

Favourite plants

Every one has their own favourites from scented lilies, flag iris, climbing roses, delphiniums, rhododendrons, flowering cherry, tulips, crocus, daffodils and snowdrops and many more. Give a lot of thought as to where to plant them for their best position.

Colour and Impact

Spring and summer bedding plants can give a huge splash of colour and be very impressive when grouped together at entrances and around the patio. Wallflower and tulips in spring and geraniums and tuberous begonias in summer are hard to beat for impact.
Many border plants, shrubs, roses and trees can all be very special in bloom, though they are all seasonal. Make use of this feature and group together those at their best at different times of year. In March when the Forsythia is in full flower plant some early flowering Red Emperor fosteriana tulips underneath them to give impact and create a contrast of colour.

Shelter and Privacy

There is always a need for shelter from winds in our country and privacy is important today as houses are often built very close together. Open plan frontages may be the modern idea to improve the appearance of a whole estate, but people have to live in the houses and open plan is not to everyone’s taste. A house integrates better into the landscape when the edges and perimeters are softened with trees, shrubs, roses and ground cover. The size and selection of the planting will relate to the surrounding area. If there is a good view to preserve then lower ground cover is best, but if there are busy roads, shops or any eyesores to screen then trees and taller evergreens may be a better bet. However unless you live in the country with your nearest neighbour a couple of fields away do not entertain planting Leyland cypress. It is very vigorous, very tall, its roots rob the ground of all moisture and nutrients and is responsible for feuding neighbours all over the country as their is always somebody unable to control its rampant growth.


The patio is essential and should be sited close to the house for privacy and shelter and built as large as possible. This is where you can indulge in brightening it up with scented climbers, summer bedding, scented lilies, tubs and hanging baskets. This is where you dine outdoors at every opportunity, socialise in the evenings and weekends and relax on that sun lounger after a bit of garden graft enjoying a small glass of Saskatoon wine.


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