Tuesday, 18 December 2007


I’ve decided over the New Year break that I will have to do something my new garden before the spring. When the growing season comes I will be desperate to plant my seedlings somewhere. I thought the best plan of action would be to draw up a rough plan to help me decide on what to do. You can have a go with your own garden if you like. Here is what I will be doing.

Most of us have little difficulty watering our plants, finding a patch for the sweet peas or mowing the grass. When it comes to the planning of a garden though, even the most seasoned gardener can break out into a sweat. I did a garden design course a few years ago to make the planning of a garden a little easier. One thing the course taught me is that some of the best-designed gardens in the country have come, not from professional training, but by trial and error. Over the years dedicated gardeners will plant shrubs, lay paths, create herbaceous borders and put in water features. Then the next year everything could change. The garden is a living thing and like all of us, changes all the time (hopefully for the better!)

There are as many designs for gardens as there are gardeners and some people wouldn’t dream of doing anything in the garden unless a professional landscaper was present. The instant garden is very popular at the moment. This can be disappointing for the customer when they realise that they might have to wait a few years for their escallonia hedge to reach six feet in height!

I remember seeing a company that delivered your garden on pallets after you chose the style you wanted. The garden, containing grass herbaceous plants, shrubs and even ornaments were dropped off and pieced together like a jigsaw. The plants stayed on the pallets so they could be taken away again and changed to suit the season.

I find it more satisfying to wait for plants to mature and fill the spaces where they were planted. It is also much cheaper too. A small hedging plant will cost a couple of euro where a five-year-old one could cost ten times that amount. The small shrubs soon catch up. I have been visiting some friends over the holidays that moved into a new estate ten years ago. When we first visited the gardens were plain lawns. Over the years I’ve seen small shrubs, trees and plants mature, beds and features added making gardens private and the estate attractive. Whilst we are on the subject of things growing larger, take this into consideration when you are buying any plant, but especially trees. You might decide to create a small, sunny garden with a cherry tree in the middle. This will be fine for the first few years, but the tree will keep on growing and put all the other plants in the shade. You will have to go out and buy shade loving plants such as hostas and ferns to grow in the dimly lit garden instead, which would be totally the opposite to the original design (personally I like hostas and ferns which is just as well as it is north-facing)!
A good garden designer will listen to your ideas and then put them into a workable plan. There could be ideas that you have that will not work and a designer could advise you otherwise, saving you time and money. On the other hand if you are brave you can create your own ideas yourself, If they don’t work you can try something different. The only disadvantage in this is that you only have yourself to blame if something looks a bit daft. But whose judging anyway -it’s fun and a great way to learn! You can start on a small area of the garden first as implementing a design can be costly

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