Starting a New Garden Layout
When starting a new garden layout, it may be of value to stand, in the mind’s eye, at an upstairs window that commands a view of the whole garden. Time has raced forward and a composition on paper has matured in reality. And now the seasons of the year unfold in the garden before you. First we are presented with the winter scene – the colour green is well distributed, with the lawn in one plane and the specimen evergreens standing sentinel for the vertical dimension. A good number of the border andplants are evergreen also, and one notices the emerald bark of shrubs like Kerria and Leycesteria in a sheltered position. Even those modest silvery shrubs like Senecio have become important. The golden privet takes on a new value. There are pink flowers among the bergenia leaves that spill from the border’s edge on to the path, and the Hellebore is carrying a dozen or more cream-green heads. You may compliment yourself that the garden pool, kept free of ice, is a great attraction for birds in winter; let’s hope they are deterred from the swelling crocus buds by the crossed threads of cotton. A final delight is the internal low beech hedge which really does hold its petrified golden leaves until sloughed off by emerging new ones.
The calendar leaves fall away, as it were, and early spring bulb flowers sparkle on the rock garden. The ever-glossy leaves of the camelia become foil to precious buds and the bursting of forsythia, cherry andprecedes a fresh green tracery. Delicate April gives way to profuse May and June, with a cavalcade of colour from which it would be absurd to pick out items. Fruit trees and bushes have flowered and the strawberries are reddening. There are already fresh and to eat, and the first pulls from the are specially sweet. Tulips are past but continue to delight. Borders fill out until no can be seen, while the roses are presenting their second flush. Runner bean flowers add colour to the kitchen garden.
A red-gold tinge in the leaves of the vine on the wall signals that we have passed into another season. Roses remain,join them and follow closely. Translucent discs of honesty can be stripped and gathered for winter. Late butterflies cluster on the clump of stonecrop and sleepy wasps come and go between the apple and the pear trees. September sun ripens onion skins to parchment, but sudden gusts bring down the first leaves — a timely reminder that these must be gathered for . Among fallen leaves the pink trumpets of colchicums peep (these are like large crocuses) and there are garlands of berries on the firethom and cotoneasters.
The daydream at the upstairs window fades with the shortening days when weekend daylight must be grabbed in order to complete clearing and digging. But leave some spadework for winter when activity makes the hands tingle and breath hang heavy in the crisp air. This is when the gardener takes stock, ponders over the seed catalogues and hopes the roses he has ordered do not arrive during a cold snap. The year has ended, but not for a gardener with a bright, frost-proof place were pot plants are being raised, brought to flower or rested. He may also be counting the days until the hyacinths in bowls are ready to be brought from their dark, cool ‘plunge’ bed and introduced into the January living room as the first offering of a new spring.