PLANNING DIFFERENT TYPES OF GARDEN
We cannot sketch the garden plan without special consideration of the way to place the specialist gardens, and gardens of definite type, when these form a part only of a larger garden. As already stated, it is best to make a clear division between each, by planting an evergreen hedge, by erecting an ornamental screen, or arranging a bank of shrubs, pergola, or similar device. In the case of a sunk garden this division hedge is not so necessary, as the lower level in itself separates the sections sufficiently.
It is obvious, however, that a series of gardens, each absolutely screened from the others, would not make a satisfactory scheme. There must be a bigger conception than this, if the whole garden is to become an entity. Sudden changes from one type to another should not be overdone. For instance, a garden of formal design near the house, following the lines of the house and side entrances, can be allowed an exit at one corner, where steps lead down through a rock and water garden. Two other exits from themight lead to an orchard and vegetable plot, and to a piece of semi-wild woodland garden respectively, each in turn connected with the other. But it becomes almost an absurdity if a formal garden leads to woodland, thence to a formal sunk garden, thence to an orchard, and finally to a , with high hedges surrounding each, and no other way of return to the house than by retracing one’s footsteps.
When you start with a plan of the boundary and house in front of you, there are two ways in which you can begin to plot the various sections. With a large plot it is best to take the largest section first, give it a good position, and then proceed to the smaller ones, finally filling in the odd corners left unallotted. With a small but irregular shaped plot you can do the same; or, alternatively you can begin from the outer boundary, putting first a division hedge, then shrubbery where thick screening is wanted, then a border—straight or curved—of flowers, and finally filling the centre plot with lawn. The first method is best in most cases.
PLACING THE WATER GARDEN
Water and sunk gardens have this in common, that they must occupy the lowest portion of the ground. This not only saves expense in construction, but also adds considerably to the beauty, since water is most delightful seen from above. To some extent it decides whether the pool shall be of formal or informal design. If the lowest portion of the garden is near the house, a formal pool will be best; whereas if it is at a distance, the pool can easily be included as a part of a wild garden, should formality be disliked.
There are naturally some difficulties to be overcome when sunk gardens are contemplated. First of all there is the disposal of the material removed, which generally seems to the novice, to become like the widow’s cruse of oil—the more he carts away the more there is left! If a rock garden also forms a part of the scheme, the subsoil will be found useful for the banks. The top 10 in. ofin a garden is the most fertile, and must be kept as surface soil. It is necessary therefore, in making a sunk garden, to remove the top layer first and stack it in a heap; then excavate as required, and lastly return the top soil to the beds and lawn of the sunk portion. Even where the garden is to be sunk only a foot or so, it will be seen that the work entailed is considerable.
Another point the garden maker must be prepared to face is the question of drainage. A sunk garden naturally receives the surplus water from the surrounding portion. Should there be springs, or should the surrounding land be exceptionally wet, it may be essential to provide ] special drains. On the other hand, the building of a rockery retaining wall round the sunk portion, the laying of turf and flagstone paths, with a cement-lined pool, may complete the construction of a sunk garden on favourable sites.
Although lawn construction, and water gardens are both dealt with elsewhere, a few remarks may be appropriate here on both subjects. The lawn of a sunk garden may constitute its chief feature. A stretch of green, broken only by a specimen plant such as Pampas grass, or Yucca gloriosa, with a couple of well-made garden benches, is delightful, but only if the grass is perfect. Unless every care can be given to the turf, I should advise using flagstones and flower beds rather than lawn. If water is used with grass, a pool with flat stone edges laid flush with the turf, is both easiest to manage, and most beautiful. Raised coping stones round the pool do not usually harmonize well with the general appearance of a sunk garden.
Water in any form in the garden must be replenished regularly. Still water, in the form of a pool where water-are grown, needs only to be replenished during dry weather by means of the ordinary garden hose. A very tiny pool need not, therefore, be supplied with inlet or outlet, so long as it is kept sweet and fresh by a correct balance between the plants and fish that inhabit it. In practice, however, I have usually found that such a pool is unsatisfactory, and should strongly advise every owner of a formal pool to arrange (1) for a satisfactory inlet by which the water can be kept to the desired level; (2) for an outlet just at the surface level, so that surplus water is carried away, and does not flood the surrounding ground ; and (3) for a good drain at the bottom which can be used when necessary to empty the pool.
It may be thought that the last is not required, and certainly if the correct balance of animal and vegetable life is present, the pool may never need cleaning out. It is often the case, however, that at certain seasons the water becomes choked with leaves blown from near trees, or is fouled by other means, and the ability to empty the pool quickly, clean it thoroughly and refill, is then greatly appreciated.
This brings us to the further point that the construction of a water garden should be accompanied by the construction of a deep sump, into which surplus water can be drained. Failing this, of course, the surplus can be carried back to the main drains. Should a sump be the method adopted, its position and construction are matters to receive attention in early stages of the garden layout.