Garden Design Ideas and Gardening Ideas
The Luxury Touch
Gardeners by nature are preoccupied with the down-to-earth. Whatever flight of fancy their horticultural ambitions inspire, their feet remain firmly planted on the ground.
Their concern is always with the basic realities and they are, perhaps, more likely than most people, to concentrate on necessities and scorn frivolous non-essentials.
But gardeners are human too and should not deny themselves the pleasurable enjoyment of indulgence in the occasional touch of luxury with garden design ideas.
Somewhere to Relax
High on the list of items that have absolutely no functional value in the growing and tending of plants, but which enormously increase the gardener’s pleasure in his garden, is a really comfortable vantage point from which he can view the results of his labours.
It might be nothing more ambitious than a picture window to frame the garden panorama, or it could be a custom-built garden room. Here, cosily ensconced in front of his favourite view, with his gardening library and other creature comforts at his elbow, the owner can extend his gardening range with the tender plants that will luxuriate — as he does — in the constant warmth.
An Indoor Pond
In the relaxing haven of a garden room, where it is always summer, what could be more appropriate or more pleasant-sounding than an indoor pool with a splashing waterfall or fountain?
Attractive though the idea is, however, do not attempt to duplicate indoors the sort of pond you have outdoors. Pond plants are sun-worshippers and do not flourish in moderate levels of indoor lighting. Also, large fish make a lot of waste which, with the accumulation of rotting material from unthrifty plants, calls for pond-cleaning operations that are just not acceptable indoors.
It is best to treat the indoor pool on the lines of a large aquarium, or to settle for the effect of clear water without fish or plants.
An aquarium pool should have the plants set in gravel instead of, and only small fish should be chosen. Intemperatures between 16° and 24°C 60′ and 75°F), colourful Guppies will thrive prodigiously. Above all, maintain water clarity and hygiene by installing an aquarium-type power filter.
A clear-water pool has no plants or fish at all, but is treated periodically with algicides and chlorine, rather like a swimming-pool. The water, incapable of supporting life, remains clear and sparkling.
This type of pool looks attractive surrounded with decorative houseplants, which will enjoy the humidifying effect while you enjoy the pleasant splash and murmur of water without the need for frequent cleaning-out chores.
A Room Outdoors
It may be that a room which is part of the house and inevitably involved in its activities, will not always provide the ideal retreat. To enjoy the luxury of solitary detachment from everyday affairs, a summerhouse may be the answer.
True luxury in this sphere is exemplified by the gazebo, an elegant circular or Hexagonal open-sided structure.
The screened garden room, the oriental tea-house and the trellis-roofed pavilion are variations on the same theme. Such a structure will add a touch of luxury to any garden but should, of course, be added to the garden only after due attention has been paid to planning and building regulations.
When the gardener can spare a moment to indulge the simple pleasure of putting his feet up, he can wallow in the luxury of garden furniture, as relaxing as his favourite armchair indoors.
For relaxation, there is probably nothing better than a swing-back reclining chair that raises the level of the feet above the head. And for dozing a summer afternoon away, nothing has yet been invented to beat a tautly-strung hammock. If you don’t have any trees to string it between there’s one that comes with its own supports.
To make the most of summer days it’s great fun to eat in the garden, and now it’s not even necessary to incorporate a barbecue pit in the design of the patio. You just wheel out the mobile barbecue trolley and light up. Delightfully simple, particularly since bottled gas can be used as an alternative fuel to charcoal.
Modern garden lighting equipment makes it possible, at the touch of a switch, to enjoy the ultimate luxury -the fascinatingly different garden after dark. Different because, instead of one light source flooding everything, a number of light sources can be used to illuminate selected features. They can be made to throw their light from different levels, at different angles. Floodlights can be used to illuminate whole areas, such as the patio or rose border, and spotlights to pick out selected features such as an isolated tree or piece of statuary.
Back-lighting produces a dramatic effect, while side-lighting or front lighting also adds interest.
In addition to all this there is the possibility of colour. The scope is unlimited and the effect is a garden enchantingly almost unbelievably different from the garden in daylight.
Types of Garden Lighting
Outdoor lighting falls into several categories, and all have their place in the garden.
Decorative strings of coloured lights – in effect an outsize outdoor version of Christmas tree lights – give the patio a festive air on special occasions.
Marker lights are really to indicate that the illuminated object is there; porch lights beside doors, lanterns on gateposts and light bollards marking drives and paths, fall into this category. Such lamps generally employ ordinary bayonet-cap light bulbs of 25 or 40 watts, though some may take 60 watts. It is important not to use a stronger bulb than the maximum indicated by the manufacturer.
Illuminating lamps need to be a good deal more powerful. A popular type for floodlighting or spotlighting consists of a 100 or 150 watt PAR 38 lamp screwed into a moulded synthetic rubber lamp-holder provided with a silicone-rubber water-sealing gasket. They should always be concealed and shielded so that they illuminate the chosen subject without shining directly into the eyes.
Moving water is the most spectacularly rewarding of all garden features when illuminated after dark. By far the best effects come from submerged lamps, but they must, of course, be of a type made specifically for that purpose.
Water is best lit from below and behind. A lamp shining up behind a waterfall turns it into a rippling sheet of molten coloured glass.
Two lamps of different colours directed up into the spray pattern of a fountain from just below the surface produce a firework display of sparkling droplets. To ensure that the scintillating display of mixed colours stands out against a totally black backcloth, the background must not be illuminated. Do not on any account kill the whole effect by bathing the pool area with a floodlight from the nearest tree.
The most effective positions for all forms of garden lighting will not be discovered without some experimenting, and all the equipment must, of course, be made to the relevant safety standards for its purpose. Installation and connection are best entrusted to the hands of a qualified professional.