Garden Design Ideas – Planning Your Garden Style
Achieving your own style
Decide first of all whether a formal or an informal style would best suit your house and its setting. To simplify the difference between the two styles, the formal is designed on straight lines, with geometric shapes of squares, rectangles or circles with a strict pattern of clipped yew and box, and the informal on more natural lines with gentle curves, meandering, and a mass of flowers spilling over the edges.
The subject of curves requires some comment. If you look at a mountainworn by , or a long-used footpath through , you will see there is always a reason for a bend or curve, whether it is to circumvent a large rock, a tree or a stream. Even in a garden, people want to go from A to B by the most direct route, and the path to the compost heap or patch should be as straightforward as possible. All too often you see gardens with little wiggly paths, put there for no particular reason. If you want a curve, let it make a definite statement by giving it generous proportions, and plant a large shrub, such as Mahonia, at its widest point.
A strong, definite structure will help to pull all the elements of your garden together. Some of the most successful gardens rely on a very formal layout, using straight lines for the paths, lawns and flower beds, and allow the effect to be softened and mellowed by plants. These will soon make spreading mats of foliage, spilling over the straight lines, forming comfortable bulges, propping themselves up on the, climbing and sprawling into one another, and forming a lovely informal tangle. By keeping the man-made parts of — the lines of path, lawn or hedge — strictly formal and letting an enthusiasm of plants have their way, you can create a delightful effect. Alternate the sizes of the groups of plants, by planting some large patches, some small and the odd singleton, and then let self-seeding plants — foxgloves, campanulas, cowslips, , tricolor and so on — pop up here and there, making the whole thing into a glorious muddle, but still within the confines of a strong framework. This unpretentious cottage garden style is complete when you mix some vegetables with the flowers. Large, wavy-edged blue-grey leaves of seakale (Crambe maritima) look marvellous in the border, bright green parsley is most effective in making grey plants seem all the more silver, and red-leaved frilly can enhance a colour scheme in the garden as well as in the salad bowl. Add some apple and (very good for the small garden as they do not rob the surrounding soil) and wild that will seed about in part-shade.
If you want to try out a style that is not specially in keeping with your home, make it in a secluded place tucked away behind high hedges or walls. Several of the best-known gardens, such as Sissinghurst and Hidcote, are gardens of compartments, surrounded by formal hedges, forming outdoor ‘rooms’. By enclosing a piece of ground in such a way, you make a stage on which flights offancy may take place, different moods are created, and you may pretend for a moment that you are in Italy or else taken back in time to sixteenth-century England. In these hidden little gardens the outer world is far away and imagination can take over. Surprising as it may seem, this is just as applicable to . By dividing them with a simple trellis or hedge, you create an air of mystery, which invites you to go and find out what lies beyond.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is your garden. Each garden is unique. You must never be intimidated by any book or person about what style you choose, how you design it, or yam choice of plants for it — it is your own personal essay in dealing with a particular plot of land.