Discovering Gardening for the First Time
Branching Out on Your Own
You may not know all there is to know about 26 stages you’ve worked your way through spread over 52 weeks and 104 hours work, you have at least acquired all the basic skills of gardening. And if this website has opened your mind to new horizons, shown you that gardening can be fun, that finding out about gardening can be an adventure, if you’ve found that chores aren’t bores and that a small amount of knowledge is a tremendous stimulus to finding out even more, then all the work that has gone into the making of this 2 Hour Garden section of the website has been worthwhile. Because now you’re on your own.– you probably never will and if you ever did you’d die of boredom – but after the
In the first part of this website we took you step by step through the various stages of, and bringing that design into being. This part is rather different. All we do here is throw out a lot of highly stimulating ideas. It’s entirely up to you to turn them into realities if you want to. There are just ideas: no plans, no stages, no project work. It’s up to you to work those out for yourself. You have the basic skills; you should have the confidence. You’ve done more difficult things already than many of the ideas thrown out here. Probably the only thing you won’t have is the space to carry out all the ideas you want to. Which is a blessing in disguise.
Because if you tried to have a little corner of every one of the gardens that are featured in the Types of Gardens section, your garden would be a mess. It would have no sense of design, no cohesion, no harmony. Happily human nature and space limitations plus a pinch of your own good sense will probably save you from that disaster. You may have never had a chance to discover this for yourself before – and a garden gives you a better chance to do it than most people realize – but every human being has a very strong, fundamental drive towards creativity.
What you express when you create something is your own personality. You express that personality when you furnish your home: similarly you express it when you create your garden. Because you’re a unique human being, some ideas will interest you, others won’t. Different ideas would interest someone else. That fact limits which of the gardens that follow will appeal to you. Without much conscious effort on your part, the ideas you choose to put into execution in your garden will all have one common link – the mere fact that they interested you.
That in itself will make them cohere – provided you stick to one fundamental principle.
A garden must have unity. If you’ve faithfully followed the stages mentioned above so far, you will have a garden that has unity, a garden that is drawn together around that circular central lawn. The simplest way of taking ideas from the gardens that follow and making them your own, is to incorporate them into the areas surrounding that unifying central lawn. You could, for example, have a pleached or espaliered walk down theby the , a damp and shady garden under the large old tree, and a hanging garden on a boundary wall.
The other simple alternative is to make your whole garden over to one ofideas that you’ll come to in a minute. Some ideas, like the secret garden, just don’t fit readily into the urban or suburban garden, unless you give the whole thing over to them. In , of course, things are simpler. You simply make the garden into a series of interconnecting compartments, and each compartment can be as different as you like from the one before.
Before you branch out on your own, try to define for yourself what you think your garden ought to be or do. Is it a place to be busy gardening in ? Is it a place in which to relax ? Is it for the kids or for you or for both ? Is it there, like a picture, to be looked at, or is it more like an extension of the house, part of the home, an extra room, to be lived in ? It’s probably a bit of all those things, but mostly it’s the last, a place to be lived in. So plan your garden round the way you live.
Lastly, remember that while a garden should be visually exciting, it should also be restful. Try to strike a happy medium between vibrantly garish colours and the quieter effects of contrasts of foliage, both colour-wise and size and texture-wise. Mix gold and grey and bronze foliage among the greens, and large bold leaves among smaller ones or finely divided ones. And try to strike a happy medium between giving yourself so much work in the garden that you never have time to do anything else, and having just enough to do in the garden to keep your interest and curiosity alive. Always have at least one more new plan to put into execution the next year and the next year and the next.
The Ornamental Garden
Ornaments evoke a world of fantasy, so it is not surprising they have been used as embellishments from the earliest gardens. Some have a use, such as furniture, others are there to excite the imagination and create moods. In some great country garden that has seen better days, one will sometimes come across the half-buried bust of a Greek goddess peering out from under an overgrown rhododendron bush, creating an atmosphere far more emotive than when the statue was still on its pedestal, set on a terrace.
In fact, the secret of using an ornament in your garden often lies in artful concealment from the immediate view, so that it is revealed unexpectedly as you move around. The biggest single item of ornament is the plant container; most gardens have one of one kind or another. Small ornaments are cheaper to buy but much harder to position than, say, a large block of carved stonework from a demolished building. Keep your eyes open for whatever appeals to you.
The Bulb Garden
Bulbs are efficient plants since their cultivation is generally straightforward, many will spread unaided once established, and they bloom throughout the year indoors and out. Though initially dear to buy, they are an unrivalled investment for a colourful garden, so versatile they can be used everywhere, even in the restricted spaces of containers and bowls.