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There’s one garden style I love to admire and love to design, but I’m not sure I could live with it in a ‘forever’ way myself – it’s the contemporary, minimalist style. I love these gardens and the sense of peace and calm they can bring when executed properly – the restrained use of planting and the adventurous use of materials and textures. But as anyone who follows me on Instagram and Facebook knows, I can’t resist colour, pattern and texture, and I love the constant changing of the seasons, new things and a regular freshening up of what’s around me.
With the end of the exam season in sight at last, many of us are looking forward gratefully to spending some well-earned time in the garden. There’s an increasing trend towards taking care of ourselves and making sure that some down-time is factored into our day, and this goes hand in hand with the realisation that connecting with the outdoors, with nature and with the garden is the very best way to do this, when our unstable climate permits. As the summer solstice approaches and evenings seem to last forever, it’s possible to spend at least some time in the garden every day, however busy our schedules are.
I suppose I’m betraying my age here but do you remember a golden curled and silvery voiced Dolly Parton singing this every week on her television show, as she appeared on a swing in a floaty gown that fluttered “like soft wings in flight”?
One of the most innovative gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show was the Beyond the Screen garden sponsored by Facebook. Why? Well, in a world where social media often gets a bad press – and understandably so – this garden set out to celebrate the many ways in which social media platforms can connect people across the world in different ways.
I’m not given to strong colours inside my home, preferring to keep things calm, neutral and restful (apart from the, ahem, ‘lived in’ clutter that is), but in the garden it’s a different story.
They are the first introduction for many of us, a sort of gateway drug that lures you in and hooks you, so you keep wanting more of them, then different ones, then something else altogether.
Last week’s Gardenwise – Doing it For the Kids – seemed to spark a great deal of interest, with lots of people looking for ideas for child-friendly gardens, so this week I thought I’d share a few of those ideas with you. What you can fit in your garden obviously depends on your own particular space, and all the other demands upon it, but here are five of the best to think about:
If you’re a parent you’ll know that along with the incredible joy children bring, there are always….costs. As a loving parent, you take this in your stride, but if you’re like me, you’d prefer to invest wisely when it comes to playing and leisure, so that your little darlings get the most value out of what you’re spending that hard earned money on. The throwaway culture of recent times has led to so much waste, and toys have to be one of the biggest culprits. We have some lovely wooden toys that provided hours of amusement and are still in my office today, coming down from the shelf occasionally when a client has to bring a little one along to a meeting. But the number of plastic things that broke after a few outings – and therefore couldn’t be passed on to the thrift shop, for instance – still bothers me.
When I sit down with clients to discuss their garden design, I always ask them if they would like a wildlife friendly garden, as there are so many ways to encourage beneficial wildlife into a garden, using both design features and choice of plants. Almost everyone is keen to encourage bees and butterflies, with a growing awareness of the decline in bee numbers and the need to provide vital sources of nectar and pollen for them.
The gentlemen with whom I share my home (one husband and one child) are disinclined, at the best of times, to partake of vegetables of any description, and though they might be tolerated as a necessary evil occasionally – on top of a pizza, for instance – salad leaves of any kind seem to give rise to a red line. They are, after all, food for rabbits – and I suppose I must have been a rabbit in a former life because they are one of my absolute favourite things. It winds me up though, that the only way to buy them is usually as a whole head of one kind of lettuce – boring! – or as a mixture in a bag – much more interesting and delicious, but it’s hard to get through a whole bag by yourself before they get limp and lifeless, and I hate waste. So this week I’ve been planting my own ‘cut and come again’ lettuce.