Large Garden Designs
There are two ways of looking at gardens. Either they may be regarded as in-fills to architecture, spaces that the architect or builder either didn’t have the imagination or the intelligence to fill, in which case the plants are an afterthought, or they may be regarded as places in which to grow plants. For the true gardener, the plants come first, and the design of the garden will largely be determined by the type of plants he wants to grow, and the amount of time or effort he is prepared to put into maintaining the garden.
In spite of these very different ways of approaching garden design, the basic precepts remain the same. There are certain basic rules that obtain in the design of all gardens.
As land gets scarcer, gardens get smaller. That’s a fact of life we all have to tolerate in this age of urbanisation. Anyone with a quarter of an acre or more has a large garden by today’s standards.
Most fortunate are those who have a new garden to create in an area of that size, because undoubtedly, starting from scratch you can have a better, cleaner more modern outlook from your home with the wide range of plants and materials now available.
If you are taking over an established plot. Especially if it is fairly large, the chances are it will be cluttered with overgrown shrubs, darkened by high trees, laid-out and fashioned with old, cracked and weed-infested paving, an ill-placed rockery and a dirty pond. If that’s the case, you’ve got your hands full.
But whether you are starting from scratch or re-planning an existing garden, the same basic principles apply.
Much depends, of course, on your situation; the type of plot, its overall shape, where the house sits in relation to the main part of the garden. It is impossible to produce a blueprint that can be applied to every garden. In the end the choice of styling must always be your own.
Basically, in the design of larger gardens, we will be looking for:
(1) a pleasant and interesting outlook from every window in the house, an outlook that blends with your home and is entirely compatible;
(2) the creation of vistas, giving your garden a sense of distance, space and depth;
(3) the inclusion of special features, such as rockeries, ponds, pergolas and terraces;
(4) the element of surprise, discovered by visitors as they walk round your garden;
(5) where the situation lends itself, an air of mystery can even be created, often by dividing the garden into two or more sections, each in contrasting design.
Above all, your garden must suit your own special requirements and the amount of time you will be able to spend on it. So often gardeners set out with a vision of their dream garden, but end up with a nightmare, simply because they have given themselves too much to do.
It is important, therefore, to establish, truthfully in your own mind, the type of garden you really want. Try to imagine how you want it to look in five years’ time, for you can be sure it will not all get done in a season or two. Once you have arrived at the point where your intentions are clear, stand back and take a long hard look at the scene before you.
The way your garden will look eventually is not the only factor. Far from it. Study how the land lies in relation to all points on the compass. Make a note of the general aspect, of shady or specially sunny areas, check for wind tunnels and particularly exposed places, look out for damp and waterlogged patches. All of these are vital when you are weighing up where to site your flower beds. Where to put screens and windbreaks, and where to build your ‘sitting out’ areas. With a larger garden, which may not be particularly well protected from the elements, these points are vital. So make a thorough survey and take notes on your findings.
Next, give some thought to the features which you might eventually like to include, a pool, a patio, arbour, terrace or rockery. Again, draw up a list so that you can sketch them in on your master-plan — even if you are unlikely to be able to start work on them for a season or two. One word of warning though: don’t try to include every possible style and feature in one garden; the result will be that each detracts from all the others. Confine yourself to two or three really good ideas, and work on them.
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