Garden Landscaping Ideas for Planning a Garden

Garden Landscaping Ideas for Planning a Garden

Creating height

A new garden can sometimes look very flat, as nothing has had time to grow to a reasonable height. One of the ways round this is to put up an arch, or a series of arches forming a tunnel, some trellis-work in metal or wood, or to do things in the grand style and build a pergola. These partitions prevent you from seeing the whole garden in one glance. They can camouflage a utilitarian part of your plot and at the same time provide a home for all the lovely climbers you want to grow. If you are in a hurry for height at the beginning, rather than plant a quick-growing tree that could soon cause its own problems, by starving the surrounding soil or casting too much shade, try training a large-leaved ivy up a pole for an immediate effect.

A note about trellis: the ready-made wooden trellis, that you can buy in sections, is often as flimsy as it is cheap, and is only strong enough for fixing on to a wall. Even then, a too-vigorous climber can cause the whole trellis to fall down in a gale. Clothed with foliage, trellis acts as a sail in the wind and needs to be supported at 2m (6-1/2ft) intervals with strong supports, preferably bedded in cement.

A quick-growing screen

Garden Landscaping Ideas A young garden has no little surprises or secrets round corners. Just a blank canvas of bare earth, it can seem remarkably empty before your long-term plantings, with all their different heights and shapes, give interest and depth to the picture. So, for the first summer, try using annuals planted on trellis, arches or poles. If you erect a simple, temporary screen (made of chicken wire or plastic-covered wire mesh supported by stout stakes) in different places in the garden, you will have a good opportunity to observe where some height would be appropriate in the long term.

For a sunny position, sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) might be your first choice as an annual screen, the epitome of summer with their gentle colours and nostalgic scent. They require what is known in horticultural terms as ‘a deep, rich root run’. This means double-digging to two spades’ depth, or 60cm (2ft) deep, with generous helpings of rotted manure or compost worked into the lower spit and a general fertilizer mixed into the top layer, making a crumbly, loose mixture through which the roots can run freely. If you are prepared to forego the larger, frillier flowers of the modern sweet peas, try growing the smaller-flowered but richly fragrant ‘Painted Lady’, a carmine and white bicolor that has been in our gardens for the last two centuries. Sweet peas make such a delightful flowery curtain in the garden that you can hardly bear to pick them, but if you do not they will soon set seed and give up flowering.

A wigwam of runner beans is easy to make out of tall bamboo canes wired firmly together at the top. It takes up surprisingly little room, adds useful instant height, does not look out of place in the flower border, with its red or white flowers, and of course supplies a delicious vegetable for the kitchen. Beans like the same rich soil as sweet peas and to keep them in full production they must be regularly picked while still young and tender.

Cobaea scandens is a splendid performer in the short space of a summer, with its large bell-shaped flowers, shaded from palest green to wonderful sinister purple. It will wind its way up a fence or scramble up a wall in no time and will bloom till late autumn. It is simple to grow, provided you remember that it comes from subtropical America and likes both warmth and shelter. In the wild it is a perennial and in very mild climates will behave accordingly.

The twining golden hop (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) will rapidly add a bright patch of yellow foliage to a young garden and is an ideal plant for clothing a new summer house or pergola. It is not an annual but a herbaceous perennial, that comes up anew from the ground each year. All it requires is any garden soil.

Climbing nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus), so common and so cheerful, are wonderful fillers for the first year, especially on poor soil; too rich a mixture will encourage them to lush growth and few flowers. The canary creeper (from Peru) Tropaeolum peregrinum, a more refined plant with lemon-yellow, slightly frilly flowers, can be planted near a shrub that has finished flowering. Once you have had it in the garden, odd seedlings will unexpectedly turn up here and there.

Purple bell vine (Rhodochiton atrosanguineus) has enchanting darkest purple little trumpet flowers, suspended from pale crimson calyces that continue to decorate the twining stems after the blooms are over. Although it looks far more difficult than it actually is, this tender plant does need starting off in warmth from seed and to be given a very sheltered place outside for the summer. It sets seed sparingly and you will have to hunt around in autumn to find the odd ripe seed capsule.

One of the first packets of seed to order will be one of chilean glory vine (Eccremocarpus scaber). It has ferny leaves and tubular flowers in orange, cherry red, yellow — or sometimes pink. It takes up little room as the stems seem almost weightless and you could plant it to grow up through your most valuable shrub. Furthermore, it seems quite happy in starvation conditions at the foot of a sunny wall. In milder areas it is perennial but elsewhere you can start it again from seed (if it has not already seeded itself).

Morning glory (Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’) has unbelievable dazzling blue funnel-shaped flowers. You will want to go out every morning to count them. If you buy plants, be careful not to plant them out too early in the summer, for a chill at this stage will make the foliage turn pale and sad, and the plants will take weeks to recover. And if you start them off yourself in warmth, make sure they are carefully hardened off. Sun, shelter from cold winds and regular watering are required.

If you are wondering whether or not to plant a hedge in a particular place in the garden, you can see what it would look like by planting a row of Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosa). If you do not like the effect by autumn, you can dig up the tubers over the winter and make them into soup. Jerusalem artichokes are not too fussy about soil, will grow up to 3m (10ft) and will make a useful summer windbreak.

Focal points

Every garden needs some focal points to lead the eye and these can be deliberately placed — like a seat or a statue — or natural, such as an inviting woodland path disappearing round a bend. On a small scale they can simply be a handsome pot. You can use a plant to act as a full-stop, for example an upright juniper (Juniperus communis ‘Hibernica’) or a fastigiate golden yew (Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata Aurea’). An architectural plant with bold spiky leaves, like a variegated Yucca, silvery Astelia or one of the New Zealand phormiums will also draw the eye.

Sometimes you visit a garden and a very busy, agitated picture presents itself. The owner probably started off with a well-placed seat, the effect was delightful, and then he or she went on adding more focal points and plants with bright, eye-catching foliage. The result is a kaleidoscope of colour with a squad of statues, a vast accumulation of plants and everywhere a pot, an urn or a seat. Each plant or artefact may be beautiful in itself but it can make you breathless trying to take it all in. So something else to remember when planning your garden is the fine line between too little visual stimulation and too much.

As white-painted garden furniture can dominate the view by looking too self-important, try toning it down with dark green paint mixed with liberal additions of black. Stark, new terracotta flower pots will quickly mellow and attract algae and moss if you paint them with a mixture of manure water, milk and liquid general fertilizer.

Flowers for cutting

Cutting gardens, consisting of rows of flowers grown only for picking, originated in the walled gardens of grand country houses. They conjure up an image of the lady of the house making little excursions there in the cool of the early morning, wearing a straw hat and carrying a trug. There she could pick and pick to her heart’s delight, great armfuls of sweet peas, lilies, peonies and border carnations by the hundred.

But with a little imagination and a small bunch of flowers from the supermarket, you can invent something lovely — provided you have planted some suitable leaves in your garden. It is always easy to buy the larger flowers — chrysanthemums, tulips, gladioli, carnations and so on — but usually impossible to get the pretty fillers-in, such as Alchemilla, Aquilegia, Heuchera, fennel (Foeniculum), Tellima, Astrantia, Queen Anne’s lace (Anthriscus sylvestris) and Tanacetum (formerly Chrysanthemum) ‘White Bonnet’ — which are essential for a softening effect. They will hardly notice a snip here and there (unlike some flowers that I would not pick — tree peonies for example). Here is an aide-mémoire of suitable flowers for cutting each season.

Amongst the most useful plants to grow for their decorative foliage are: Arum italicum italicum, Bergenia, Elaeagnus, Eucalyptus, Euphorbia robbiae, Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’ and others, Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’, Hosta, Pittosporum, Ruta graveolens ‘Jackman’s Blue’, Skimmia and Sarcococca.

26. December 2010 by admin
Categories: Planning and Design | Tags: , | Comments Off on Garden Landscaping Ideas for Planning a Garden


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: