Successful garden designs

Posted by julia on May 25, 2014 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)

One of my favourite youtube feeds on garden design, comes from a lady called Rachel Matthews. Rachel is a professional garden designer, and she sells a course online. I'd highly recommend her courses (I bought the plant design course, and it was packed full of implementable ideas).

She has a website ;

and here is her youtube site

Definitely worth checking out if you want to know how to put your garden together. Rachel includes lots of tips that can short circuit things like colour theory. 

Garden rooms

Posted by julia on May 7, 2014 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Talk about garden rooms is very common when you look in garden design books. But there isn't much talk about the function of these rooms. It's easier inside the house - there are the bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room. The architect has defined these functions for us. But the garden is a big open space, no walls, no ceiling, no defined function. 

So what are the functions that a garden room could have? How about 

  • Somewhere to sunbathe
  • A dining area
  • A lounging area
  • A room for the kids to play in
  • A relaxation and contemplation room
  • somewhere to cook/bar b q
  • a place to work
  • a place to read 
  • a stage, performance area with surrounding seating
  • a games room
  • a party room
And when "building" these rooms, it can be helpful to think about it as if it is a room in the house. What is the floor covering, what do you want to put on the walls. How about the ceiling? (think trees or even hanging sculptures when considering the ceiling). What about doors - every room needs a door or two. 

ziggy zag in front of roundy smooth

Posted by julia on April 20, 2014 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Think Monkey puzzle tree in the foreground, then lawn, then a backdrop of rhododendrons...... The spikey branches of the monkey puzzle tree provide, not only depth of vision (which almost any object in the foreground would provide), but they also provide a juxtaposition against the rounded hummocky shape of the rhododendrons - creating more depth of vision. The spikey branches emphasise the roundness. 

Think spikey cordylines in two pots on a terrace overlooking an azure sea (ok, overlooking a fairly ordinary back garden!). The vertical spikey leaves in the foreground contrast with the horizontal lines of the sea (or rather the back garden's horizon and fencing), giving more depth of vision and more interest to the view. 

Adding structure for impact

Posted by julia on April 20, 2014 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the best design tips I know, and one which will bring about an immediate visual interest to your garden or border is to add some structure. One garden design book I read recently suggested that every border should have structure, and I think I agree, it adds an immense difference to any garden. 

By structure you could think of doing one of the following: 

- turn your lawn into a regular shape (circle, square, oblong)

- put a terracota pot in a border. It can be a large one, or try a small one laid down on its side as if it has been unearthed and been there for years

- repeat a plant through a border at regular intervals (think of box hedges, or be a bit different and repeat yew balls in a line). My favourite tree at the moment is Pyrus callereana 'Chanticleer' - a line of them down one path, or even either side of the path would provide wonderful structure. Or for a small garden a line of Prunus amanogawa would work wonders too.

- use symmetry as a structure for your garden, eg put two pots either side of a path. Fill them with whatever you want, but make them the same pots and the same plants in both. 

- top lift a shrub. Shrubs like Cotinus coggygria have wonderful multi branching stems. If you take the foliage away from the bottom half, you can often produce an architectural specimen that will add interest and structure.