Taking inspiration for my own garden
2017 offers me a chance to redesign my own garden. I obviously (given how many gardens I’ve visited) have plenty of inspiration.
The gardens are communal, comprise two large courtyards (south-facing) with some other planting around and about. All in all, the garden is about the size of 20 normal domestic gardens. We have no grass and the space is essentially a roof garden (with between 10cm and 30cm of soil only).
Having “kept out” of the day-to-day of the garden for the last 15 years, leaving it up to the gardener who was established when I arrived (apart from in the last few years doing a six-monthly walk around to discuss the next half-year), I am now free to steer the garden’s path somewhat more.
Out of all the residents, there is only me and one other person who take any interest in what is in the gardens. Over to me then…
Yes, I did a little skip and a dance on 30 December 2016, knowing that a new era was presenting itself.. Having waited patiently for the previous gardener to retire in his own time (he was 69 when he retired), I can now be a gardener in my spare time. In Central London!
I have a new gardener working with me for 6-8 hours as week, as I can’t devote all the time needed – and I definitely need help with the watering in the summer (on the to-do list is “finish the irrigation system”).
I’ve been building compost bins, pruning, clearing and compiling plant lists, plotting how to move plants into better situations and dividing up existing plants to make new plants. I’m about to spend £850 on mulch (gulp).
Under my guidance, I hope to rebalance the garden, with rhythm in the planting. I will work with what is already there (lots of yukkas and some fabulous grasses) but create a garden, rather than a bunch of plants shoved together, many of which are overgrown and have never been pruned. I will bring a soft palate of flowers into the garden, something that is currently missing (apart from the daffodils).
First though, there is a lot of clearing to do. We keep finding wonderful plants, hidden inside other plants or underneath bushes. We’ve also removed quite a lot of dead plants though.
I know I can’t have the garden of my dreams (Wollerton Old Hall and Houghton Hall Walled Garden would be pretty close to perfect for me), because of the soil situation and the open south-facing aspect. Whereas I’d like to have yew and box, I will have to create my design with grasses and spiky, drought-resistant planing. Handy then that I visited Scampston Walled Garden and Dove Cottage Nursery last year. I’ve been oogling the grasses grown by Knoll Gardens.
I have started making a list of all the plants currently in the gardens. It’s going to be an interesting learning curve. The RHS should be expecting some tweets when I can’t identify something. They’re very helpful over at @The_RHS.
Is it overly ambitious to hope to open the garden during 2018’s London Open Squares weekend?
Even if I can’t have a row of pleached trees and a rill leading to an Italian loggia, I can nosy around for inspiration and Anouska Hemple’s designs below are wonderful. She has inspired me to use simple, repetitive design. It’s oh so pleasing on the eye.
Pictures of courtesy of Pinterest.