To refresh planting throughout the garden and bring the house and garden together to give the impression of ‘bringing the garden indoors’. The priorities are flowers and foliage for cutting.
What a wonderful project! This small, urban garden that wraps itself around the house was full to the brim with hundreds of pots containing decades worth of garden centre purchases, some alive and others less so! It was with great delight that the owners and I set about sorting what to save and what to chuck. Friends and family were showered with pots and plants, a few choice items retained and a large patio and deck space emerged. Next, we tackled some of the idiosyncracies of the space such as dragging large wheelie bins from the back of the garden over the lawn, down steps, across the patio, up steps and across the deck each week. An arrangement was no good for the bins or for the owner’s back! The coal was similarly housed as far away from the door as possible and the lawn which dominated the garden was bare and unused. Hmmm! Fortunately the owners are brave and visionary. As such, it was not long before we had come to a happy agreement that not only must the lawn go to make way for flower beds but that the tender plants, so many loved and so many lost to frost, should have an overwintering home in a greenhouse.
Similarly the front garden which the owners longed to be colourful and eye-catching, was in fact sporting a rather dull lawn albeit mitigated by two joyous window boxes of cochineal geraniums in the summer. How about drenching the front garden in colour and creating a lush, cut-flower garden at the same time? Fun!
So, gone are the lawns and the lawn mower, the old shed (and most of its contents), the pots, the trailing wires, the outdated furniture, the unsuitable plants, the ‘it used to be a pond’ and the clutter. In their place we have a welcoming gate and eye level flower bed outside the kitchen and study windows. There is a courtyard devoted to playing with the grandchildren including toy storage, an outdoor sink and a water spray for running through on hot days. The bins and coal are stored next to the door – the coal-scuttle neatly using an odd corner and the bins doubling up as blackboards. The deck is clear and graced with two beautiful, handmade planters and benches. A new table will follow this spring. I designed the table and benches specifically to be taken inside for big family gatherings to double the seating. Two Crataegus prunifolia Splendens provide shade during the summer, spring blossom, winter colour and bare branches to maximise light into the sitting room during the darker months. The solar-powered electrics are now concealed and the hanging cable between two buildings turned into a tree sculpture to complete the decking area and lead us into the back garden. Down the steps into the patio, now cleared and ready for seating, a lavish planting full of old treasures and new delights will give a year round garden of flowers. A new greenhouse and shed at the rear, mirrors the shapes of the house unifying the architecture throughout house and garden.
The brief to ‘bring the garden indoors’ has been met without the need for bi-fold doors or matching paving. The garden and the house are complete. Flowers and furniture flow between the two as do guests, cats and family. I felt it was important not to deprive the owner entirely of her liking for “changing things around, buying things out of fancy” so there are dedicated spots among the planting where the few remaining pots can be put through their paces for seasonal effect. Overall though there is minimal maintenance, save picking the flowers and foliage, which are now easily accessible. This bold garden, which had its roots in a Paul Klee print hanging on their wall, is utterly personal to the owners and will mature to match their lively, loving natures.
Another happy collaboration for me with Duncan at Artisan Structures on the woodwork in the garden. He is so gifted at doing just what I ask, only better.
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