Garden Ideas: Hilltop Gardens
Planning and making a hilltop garden is one of the greatest tests of a gardener’s ingenuity. The main priority is to provideagainst gales for yourself and the plants in the garden. So the first job, after initial planning of the layout, is to establish trees and tall hedges and other kinds of windbreaks, such as wall bays for .
It is not until later when such trees are becoming established that the main plantings of, roses, shrubs and bulbs can take place, although naturally the time this can be done depends a lot on how exposed the actual location is in relation to the worst the local weather can do.
Much depends on the position of the house, how near the hilltop it is, and the location of the other features. But if one can picture them like chessmen, their positions interchangeable, then suiting their relative positions to the actual site will be so much easier.
The first area to consider on a hilltop site is the area surrounding the house — the house-garden. This should be sheltered with trees, or even a high wall if the weather can get too rough. If the hill slope is steep it may mean, that you could only provide a flat area of ground on one or two sides.
Even if you have physically to construct it, this flat area is necessary because not only does it make the house stand out as a feature but it will provide sufficient level space for siting the greenhouse, garden shed, and patio for sitting out, all of which need to be close to the house. You do not want to have to transport garden equipment and sundries long distances up and down slopes.
The patio will be a main feature, perhaps with a low cavity wall along it, planted with the most suitable plants of the season, and adequately shielded. And it can have, at the hillside end, an arch-covered ornamental gate, leading towards the next feature, the hillside garden.
The patio might also be given alcoves for sitting in during less favourable weather and part can be covered overhead. Scope is available for siting less tenderunder it.
Steps, curving or straight, will lead from the patio to the lawn, which, to accommodate the slope of ground, will probably have to be partly excavated at one side and perhaps built up at another. An ornamental retaining wall could be built at the junction of the patio with the lawn, and this can be planted with rock plants in cavities left for the purpose. If you plump for a high surround to your house garden, it could be clothed with climbers or given colour with hanging baskets.
The lawn can still have the usual flower beds in it or round it, with accentuating specimen trees and will presumably connect to a path leading to the hillside garden.
The hillside garden will have a path that winds through it and will pass through rock outcrops, partly made as planted, rocky bluffs for carpeting or hanging plants and low conifers to contrast with the tall trees that will give the main shelter from gales in winter.
Plenty of scope will usually be available for informally siting rock edges, water cascades, green clearings among shrubs and trees for a garden seat — perhaps among, with low shrubs carpeting some parts. It may also be possible to construct other surprise elements and shielded seats to enjoy the view.
The actual summit, of course, will be the piece de resistance. It will need to be partly clothed with trees and shrubs to keep off the wind, possibly to the south-west and the north and northeast, with views to the other points of the compass.
A short avenue of grass or steps, flanked by hydrangeas, conifers, or other plants, can lead to the hilltop itself, where, perhaps, you might like to site a flat circle of ornamental bricks or paving. With an island bed, and low walls round the edges with seating set in them.
The hillside garden and hilltop provide endless scope for sun-lovers and shade-loving plants. Heathers set in circles cut out of grassy slopes, and kept well trimmed after flowering, can be an especially bright feature most of the year.
If you wish to grow fruit and vegetables then these would best be sited somewhere in the shielded house-garden.