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  • How to create winter colour in the garden? Here are some kaleidoscopic tips to brighten up the greyest of days.

    Creating winter colour in the garden is always a challenge. Complete reliance on plants to flower in the colder months is impossible. There are a few varieties that will flower, but it is difficult to expect them to provide the mainstay of seasonal colour. Here we give you six top tips to have guaranteed pops of excitement whatever the weather.

    Colourful pots

    There is a huge range of pots and planters available on the market. Rather than selecting a standard terracotta or metal pot, which will often add little visual excitement to a space, opt instead for a coloured fibreglass planter. They come in myriad styles and colours, often at surprisingly affordable prices. Use in groups or lines of threes for a simple, high impact colour injection.

    Position brightly coloured fibre glass planters in threes for great colour blocking

    Position brightly coloured fibre glass planters in threes for great colour blocking


    Hard landscaping

    Rendered raised beds are a popular feature in modern gardens. If you have one, consider painting it a zingy lime or paint box of shades to cheer the garden up in the colder months. The great advantage of painting garden features is that the colour can be changed as often as you like at very little cost. Plus, the colour possibilities are endless.

    Paint walls brightly for winter colour in your garden

    Paint walls brightly for winter colour in your garden


    Screens

    When renovating a garden, I often suggest a feature panel of some sort. This could be timber or weathered steel, both of which will add drama and elegance to a garden. However for real ‘wow’ factor I recommend Perspex screens to add a weatherproof, fade-free block of colour whatever the season. HardiePanel is also a great weatherproof material to provide a colour backdrop or feature screen that will stand out and provide the brightest of colours on the greyest of days.

    Perspex panels ensure its never a dull moment

    Perspex panels ensure its never a dull moment


    Tiling

    A panel of decorative tiles is a great solution for winter colour in the garden. It really ups the ante. The vast array of tiles available means that you can have pretty much any combination you like to add a depth of colour to any scheme. Make sure you select frost proof tiles so they stay looking good for years to come.

    Tiling give fabulously interesting colour

    Tiling give fabulously interesting colour


    Outdoor canvas

    Fairly cheap to buy, child’s play to install, and with almost infinite colour and image possibilities, an outdoor canvas is the simplest way to brighten up your garden. Hang behind a dining area, or place at the focal point when viewed from the house for added impact. Guaranteed to give your garden a year-round lift.

    With outdoor canvases the possibilities are endless

    With outdoor canvases the possibilities are endless


    Planting

    Despite what I wrote at the beginning of this epost, there are certain plants which will provide you year round colour. Think about bark and berries as well as foliagee and flowers. A bank of dogwood, for example, looks stunning. Some great plants for picking up the borders include:

    • Cornus
    • Lonicera pupuseii
    • Phormiums
    • Heucheras
    • Mahonia

    Cracking year round colour from Heuchera Boysenberry

    Cracking year round colour from Heuchera Boysenberry

    And of course, don’t forget grass. Whilst it might not be the most exciting part of your garden, it does provide a swath of green all year round.

    Katrina Kieffer-Wells is our Senior garden Designer at Earth Designs. If you would like to some design advice please get in touch.

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  • A-one-off-unique-garden-sofa.jpg

    What’s in the Shedquarters look book? – A a dose of sensational luxury with this one off garden sofa!

    I am all over a garden sofa. I think in any garden they are a much better choice, if you could only have one or the other, much better than a dining table and chairs.

    A one off unique garden sofa

    A one off unique garden sofa


    Taking it to the next level

    I love anything that is a little bit kooky and takes the notion of the inside outside to the next level.I think if you include this in any garden design it would really pack a punch. This out and out quirky, sculptural talking piece, would mean that you’re planting and rest of the space needn’t to be too decadent and you could add scatter cushions, throws or other accessories for pops of colour.

    A unique one off

    If there was one thing I would like to have in my garden this item. I simply love the industrial nature of the concrete coupled with not sure this nation of Chesterfield garden sofa. Highly detailed this object would look great in any modern garden design. The marriage of the industrial and the classic makes I dramatic statement. I want to help comfortable it is to sit on? I guess, as with other selfies, you could add cushions.

    Manufacturing a masterpiece

    A Mould was taken from a real chesterfield sofa produced by grey concrete. The mould has taken using a fibreglass and the existing conditions when we field using fine to enable them to include “thumbprints” in the final piece. The moulding techniques are used also affected the sofa even looks like it’s made of leather, and there is a 50p piece stuck to the back one of the cushion.

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  • garden table

    East London Garden seeks designer to give it some welly.

    Claire called Earth Designs. They live on the Isle of Dogs and have an east London garden in need of attention. They had a small child and needed to give thier outside space a drastic overhaul. The boundary wall was failing and it was unusuable as a space. Claire commissioned a design package for the east London garden space and then saved for a year before commissing the build. The build is due to start in Oct 2017 and you can follow the progress on our Facebook page.

    East London garden in need of a revamp

    East London garden in need of a revamp


    The Brief

    The garden of this east London terraced house is in need of modernisation. It is currently overshadowed by several overgrown trees. The period boundary walls are traditional yellow stock London brick, and are in a state of disrepair but carry an authentic charm. The client would like the new design to include elements of play for her daughter, plus provision for relaxation and entertaining family and friends.

    Sketch of ideas for this East London garden

    Sketch of ideas for this East London garden

     

    Bricks and mortar

    This design aims to offer something for all members of the family. The main flooring material in the garden will be Calendula Grey Indian sandstone paving installed in a random pattern. A paved pathway, bordered by planting beds on either side, will run along the sideway to a small patio adjoining the back of the house. Adjacent to this patio will be a small strip of decking, which will in turn leading to a further sandstone patio on the left side of the middle section of the garden and an artificial lawn on the right.

    Space is carved up with different materials

    Space is carved up with different materials


    Plants in the garden

    The decked area will feature two raised planters which will bisect each other in a cross formation, with decking running up the sides of the parallel planter as a decorative feature.

    Planting is varied, evergreens and herbaceous perennials offer year round interest.

    Planting is varied, evergreens and herbaceous perennials offer year round interest.


    Spaces to entertain and relax

    A rendered block planter on the left hand side of the garden will feature an inglenook-style seat constructed from railway sleepers to provide a secluded area where the user will be surrounded by planting.A tall raised bed with deep fixed bench seating will be constructed along the rear boundary which will be suitable for informal lounging and seating for dining. A railway station trolley table offers an unique twist to the space, with a gateleg table offering dining solutions when needed.

    Inglenook seating plus a daybed with storage

    Inglenook seating plus a daybed with storage

     

    A folding table and chairs frees up floor space when not in use.

    A folding table and chairs frees up floor space when not in use.

    Dining for 6.

    Dining for 6.

     

     

     

     

     

    Suitable for all the family

    The artificial lawn on the right of the garden will be enclosed by a timber pergola and will feature a small decked ‘daybed’ in the back right corner. A small sandpit beneath the daybed will be accessed by a flip-top decking lid. A weatherproof blackboard installed on the boundary wall in this area will provide further entertainment for the client’s children.

    Flip top storage and sandpit extends the gardens use.

    Flip top storage and sandpit extends the gardens use.

    If you have a east London garden you would like to give a make over to, please contact our team on info@earthdesigns.co.uk and they will book you a slot.

    Inspiration comes from Tetris, Speak and Spell and Kandinsky.

    Inspiration comes from Tetris, Speak and Spell and Kandinsky.

     

    Raised planters, intergrated seating and inbuilt storage all feature in the space.

    Raised planters, intergrated seating and inbuilt storage all feature in the space.

    East London garden scale plan

    East London garden scale plan

    A variety of seating allows for different states in the garden

    A variety of seating allows for different states in the garden

     

     

     

     

     

    Planting is full of texture and long flowering blooms

    Planting is full of texture and long flowering blooms

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  • photo-12-06-2017-12-19-35

    Red phone Sketch #4: Japan comes to this North London Garden Design

    This client came to me looking for a North London garden design. She liked the tranquillity of a Japanese garden, and wanted to replicate that in her own design. The garden was dominated by an unsightly concrete garage which she wanted to divert the focus from. She also wanted a low maintenance solution.

     

    Turning Japanese in North London Garden Design


    Twisting it

    By turning everything onto a 45° angle, we used the longest lines ( i.e. the diagonals) to stretch the perspective. Extra drama was created by running the lines in both directions across the space.

    Screening it

    Including screens in the design helped to disguise the garage and divide the garden up into smaller pockets. The screens were positioned along the back of the space and down the centre of the garden as focal points and backdrops to specimen planting. Reminiscent of Japanese screens, they gave a structured, architectural aspect to the design.

    Planters paradise

    The planting scheme focused on texture and foliage colour in keeping with the Japanese theme. Several specimen acers punctuated the space, with groundcover planting and gravel infill between lines of paving. Evergreen shrubs worked alongside herbaceous perennials to create a lush green feel. Using plants with different textured foliage helped to layer up the space.

    Mixing up the materials

    By adding several different types materials we created interest. Sleeper stones were used to create a low maintenance timber effect, cobbles use to emphasise the Japanese themes and railway sleepers were included to provide bulk and texture.

    Grow your own

    At the bottom of the garden next to the garage there was a small area which caught the sun throughout the day. It was higher than the rest of the garden and practically seemed pretty much a dead space. We thought the area would make a perfect “grow your own space”, so included some raised railway sleeper beds, which would give the client an opportunity to dabble in the world vegetable gardening without compromising the ordered ‘designer’ feel of the garden proper.

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    The fabric of hidden London: seeing beyond the obvious through random wanderings.

    I’m homesick. I am homesick for hidden London areas despite visiting nearly once a week. I lived there for nearly 20 years and it got under my skin.

    There is something about the city that inspires me like nowhere else. I feel alive. Almost everywhere in London seems to have something to offer. Each area has a history, be it social, political or creative, and as it is such an old city that has expanded ad hoc over the centuries, there is a stunning diversity of architecture. It boasts a rich tapestry of sounds, smells, colours and people, combining an edgy seediness and classy elegance to create a city unlike any other. It is the city of extremes, full of weirdness, wonder and surprises.

    When my boys were babies I took the opportunity to try and explore some of the places that I really should have visited but for some reason never had. Tourist destinations that many Londoners have never seen because it is on their doorstep and therefore there’s no rush. Stone cathedrals, hidden parks, quirky repositories of the ephemera of urban life and brutalist concrete slabs. I sought out as much as I could.

    I recently found out that this behavior has a name: Urban Exploration or Urbex for short. I can now say I am ‘Urbexing’ for the afternoon. Love it! Now I have visited the obvious ‘must sees’, I like go off the beaten track and try and to find the ‘hidden’ London. There is a vast wealth of unusual and underdiscovered destinations in London, from ‘ghost’ signs to disused tube stations, old pubs and cinemas to contemporary urban art. The buidings themselves hold many hidden treasures, particularly in central London – beautiful doors, gothic carvings, elegant tiles, stunning patterns and materials – which tell a story in themselves.


    Architecture in London

    While this post isn’t really about architeciture it seems strange not to mention the skyline staples that rock my London. My favourite buildings include:

    • St Pancreas station. A Gilbert Scott masterpiece. I think one of the reasons I love this amazingly intricate Victorian gothic architecture is that for a long time it was neglected and ignored, until the Kings Cross area of London started to become fashionable again. Now that it has been restored to former glory, it has truly become the ‘King of Bling’ on the Euston Road.
    • Natural History Musuem –  designed by Alfred Waterhouse and built in terracotta, it’s one of Britain’s most striking examples of Romanesque architecture. I simply love spotting all the animals adorning the building inside and out.
    • Victoria and Albert Musuem –  I simply love this plasce. The outside is not outstanding, although attractive nonetheless. However the interior, including ‘The John Madejski’ garden, a courtyard garden design by Kim Wilkie, is sumptuous and divine. The new wing on exhibition Road is the most fabulous juxtaposition of old and new.
    • Southbank Centre – this brute of a building was built to celebrate the Festival of Britain and was described at the time as a “tonic for the nation”.  I love the open nature of it. The brutalist architecture that has no pretensions to be anything other than functional. Strong, geometric lines sit in great contrast to many of the surrounding buildings.
    • Imagination Building in Store Street. I have to declare a bit of bias here. I used to work for Imagination and had the pleasure of spending time in this building every day.  Imagination is one of Britain’s most prestigious design companies. As the company grew they wanted to expand into two adjoining buildings and connect them with a series of transparent bridges. They covered the space between the two buildings with a translucent plastic fabric to create a huge atrium flooded with light that formed the central hub of the new buildingThe architect, Ron Heron, is a genius.
    • Sir John Sloane Museum – love the inside as much as the outside. The original home of a maximalist, who used his own house as an architectural experiment, playing with materials to create effects, so the objects inside become part of the building.

    The almost church like architecture of the Natural History Museum

    The almost church like architecture of the Natural History Museum

     

    Walking the streets

    I really don’t walk as much as I should, but a regular walk I do with the boys is from the Unicorn Theatre on Tooley Street to Westminster bridge. This is a fabulous walk for kids and enables me to teach them a bit about history and architectural styles. From the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, The GLC building, Borough Market, through to the Tate Modern, Shakespeares Globe, The Clink Prison (Felix is always fascinated by this), along to the Southbank and the skateboard/graffitti area and then of course the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. It really captures their imaginations.

    Walking through the East End is always interesting too. My maternal ancestors came from the East End, initially around Arnold Circus (descendants of Hugenout weavers) and then further out. To walk in the steps of my forebears really gets my imagination going. I wonder where they visited. Did the lean against the same walls as I do, touch the same door handles, look through the same windows? I am facinated by this idea. Although the area is now hipster cenral, many of the buildings remain, some of which have been restored (and repurposed).

     

    Steps that have been well trodden at the Geffrye Musuem

    Steps that have been well trodden at the Geffrye Musuem


    Another time, Another place

    What is it about London that can instantly transport you to another era? The paving slabs that are worn away, the new steps waiting to be trod. Sometimes you see a ghost sign on the side of the building and you are instantly transported to the era where there were no screens, where things weren’t quite as transient as they are today. I love to try and tease out these old elements, still present, still playing their part in the story.

    Outside a pub in Covent Garden

    Outside a pub in Covent Garden


    Old and New

    Although admittedly I haven’t visited everywhere in the world, it seems like few other cities can boast such an extensive marriage of old and new. The deep rooted kalidescopic nature of London by no means feels dated or awkward – the city has a sense of established permanence yet beats a very contemporary heart. Building work is happening all over the city, but the new structures have to fit into something much older.

     

    Katrina Kieffer-Wells runs a garden design and build company, Earth Designs, operating in Leigh on Sea but working through the South East and London. If you would like to get in touch about a garden design in London please call us.

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  • Photo 16-11-2017, 14 12 07

    Garden design ideas: the Power of Opera

    If i need some garden design ideas head straight for the Victoria and Albert Museum.

    New Sainsbury Wing at the V&A

    New Sainsbury Wing at the V&A

    The largest arts and crafts museum in the world, it is packed floor-to-ceiling with sumptuous delights in many mediums. They always have three or four exhibitions at any one time, and they are always worth visiting.

    New Sainsbury Wing

    With the new wing recently opened it is even more breathtaking then it was before.

    I have to be honest, I’m not particularly a fan of opera, but as I am a member, knowing that their exhibitions or not to be missed I went to see Opera: Passion, Politics and Power.

    I wasn’t disappointed.

    Opera: Passion, Politics and Power

     

    The exhibition is broken up into seven operas in different cities
    It is very immersive, vast and exhilarating exhibition. You are given a set of headphones, the sound quality is immense. You are instantly immersed in the genre. For me, it is often as much about how they have chosen to display the information as the information itself. Vast walls, with simple quotes in a handwritten font really give impact.

    Galileo quote on Opera, Passion, Power and Politics

    Galileo quote on Opera, Passion, Power and Politics

    Collections of the same thing set in a line allow you to compare and contrast each item. Exquisite glassware demonstrates the skill of the nations craftspeople and demonstrates the wealth of commerce and trade in the area around 1500 and 1600s. The way the items are lit, even displayed against black wall, still create shadow and drama. Here the Opera Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea (1643) plays.

    Look carefully for the shadows

    Look carefully for the shadows

    The exhibition, in parts, is very erotic. Costumes are displayed, courtesans would provocatively open the skirts. Revealing, something beyond. The original drawing is displayed next to the final costume. The costume, feels surprisingly current. Something that Alexander McQueen or Vivian Westwood might of produced.

    Dancers costume and originals drawing displayed

    Dancers costume and originals drawing displayed

    Violins, or suspended, seemingly floating in the cabinet. Positioned at court and differing angles, it allows you to view their beauty and appreciate the shape of the object itself. I loved the record, the Rock Theatre. The lavish theatrical staging, that you could view both from the front and the rear. The way that perspective what’s the chiefed in the small space is fascinating, definitely something to apply to garden design ideas.

    Violins seem to float in display cabinets

    Violins seem to float in display cabinets

    Operatic costumes are displayed throughout the space. Rich and sumptuous and beautifully made they obviously replicated the fashions of the day. Particularly structural work metalwork hello weeks or pieces, where the curators had decided to use strong multi text role frames to represent a week or do. Large, these would make the most fabulous garden structures, purpose or tunnels.

    Fabulous metalwork hair pieces

    Fabulous metalwork hair pieces

     

    Perhaps, one of the most breathtaking areas was the bank of screens showing auditorium is 150 Italian opera houses. The seat been placed for you to experience this in massive curved screen. Verdi’s Nabucco plays through the headphones, and the enormity of the genre is breathtaking. As a designer wanting to draw down on this regarding design ideas, this huge immense curve becomes totally immersive. A great idea for enclosing an area in the garden and adding deep drama.

    150 Italian Opera house interiors

    150 Italian Opera house interiors

    The end of the exhibition, brings it up to the modern day. Kirchner’s nudes are resting, and the analysts couch in front of a terrifying Royal Opera production brings a whole new dey mention to the exhibition. Very evocative of pre-war Europe, costumes by Dolly and the Saatchi sit in contrast with the graphic necrophiliac in the film.

    Wonderful costumes work in contrast to the unnerving footage

    Wonderful costumes work in contrast to the unnerving footage

     

    This exhibition was totally thought revolting. Completely immersive as an experience and a great introduction to the power opera. If you can, go.

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  • heathf78
Contemporary small urban town family garden long and narrow wooden decked decking patio terrace seating area path rattan style resin weave garden furniture sofas planters containers occasional table outdoor living room outside lighting
Design: Katrina Kieffer-Wells, Earth Designs
Emma Benn, Sevenoaks
UK
Marcus Harpur

    How to plan the perfect party garden

    Sometimes, our outdoor space can be our biggest asset. Planning the perfect party garden is easy with a few pointers. It’s a tightrope, getting it right between an intimate space suitable for most of the year, but adaptable enough that it can become a magical destination for all your friends and family. Living in the UK, making provision for lighting and weather is critical.

    Pointers for the perfect party garden


    Lighting

    It seems the most obvious thing, but getting garden lighting right is crucial. We spend more time interacting with our garden from the inside than the outside, so even when not in party mode, to be able to view your garden at night is essential. Consider highlighting any features you have in the space such as a specimen tree, water feature, feature wall or a screen. These are best uplighted. The areas where you choose to congregate, opt for several lights, spotlights (ideally placed on a wall or post ) to provide enough illumination to eat by. And then supplement with mood lighting such as storm lanterns or fairy lights. This will create atmosphere and cosy up the space.

     

    Colour block

    Colour can be exciting. Use a feature wall, or a series of brightly coloured planters to draw attention to the space during the colder months. By adding blocks of colour you are less reliant on the planting or foliage to come up trumps. Using colour in this way can also be changed periodicly should you so wish. Combined with good lighting, colour will make the party go with a swing.

     

    Scented plants

    Nothing is quite as nostalgic as scented garden plants. Consider what you have around the seating areas, or on the journey to the seating areas. Nothing is quite as lovely as a heady evening sent of blossom. Use climbing plants to ramp up the fence up over at archway entrance to the space. Plant in succession so you have scent throughout the year. Plants to consider are:

    • Lavender
    • Honeysuckle
    • Roses
    • Jasmine
    • Buddlejia
    • Magnolia
    • Cosmos
    • Nicotina

     

    Great seating

    Make sure you include some fabulous sitting in the garden. I am a big fan of garden sofas as I think that most people prefer to “sit soft” to relax. Try and make some provision in the party garden for both dining and lounging in the space if possible. Consider occasional seating such as foldable stalls or beanbags. Create raised beds, with deep edging on top that would allow for occasional seating at large-scale events. Create lots of perches, and areas to lounge.

    Mix up materials

    By mixing up materials, you add depth to the space. Suddenly it becomes exciting with a myriad of texture. Make a series of opposites, rough with smooth, spikey and soft, matt and shiny. Consider adding things that you don’t normally see in the garden. It will add a real ‘pow’ to the party garden space.

     

    Hide out in the garden

    Make it playful. Let people become children again. Create a hideout at the bottom of the garden, maybe it can’t be viewed from the main house. Make it secret. Create cosy nooks and secret spaces. Allow people to feel like they are in a den again. Allowing an adult to become a child like again is one of the most exciting, memorable things you can do. Play up to it.

     

    Create a focus

    In this party garden, the focus is the central coffee table. Equally it could be a hot tub, water feature, fire pit or dining table. It is important that you tell the visitors to the party garden where you would like them to congregate. Create a route through the garden, a journey to an end result that punctuates the space. It needs to tell them that they have arrived at the destination. It needs to tell them that it is okay to stop here and hang out. You may have two or three areas like this in a larger garden. Fire in the form of the fire pit of fireplace is a perfect example of how you might use this.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • paved circle

    Walthamstow garden seeks east London garden designer for Court-yarding and BLOOMING fun.

    Bernadette called in Katrina as she was looking for an east London garden designer to help realise her garden. She has spoken to a few other companies but they had not delivered anything creative to fire her imagination

    The front of the garden belongs to the owner

    The front of the garden belongs to the owner


    The Garden Designer’s brief

    This client has lived in the property for a number of years. Following extensive kitchen renovations and building an extension she has now turned her attentions to the garden. The plot is divided into two and is shared with the upstairs flat. The client owns the first portion of the garden but wishes to view the garden beyond. The extended decking should remain and she would like a low maintenance solution.

    A cottage garden theme with raised beds


    The Theme

    The design follows a cottage courtyard theme. The existing decking will remain but will lead to a large paved circle.

    Raised beds and low maintained - bang on brief

    Raised beds and low maintained – bang on brief


    Patio

    The cycle will be Indian sandstone mint fossil and span 3.6m. Planted centrally will be an Acer to create a focal point. Stepping stones will be embedded into gravel both next to the decking and next to the rear of the gardening and adjoining next to the pathway.

    Indian Sandstone circle with Acer as focal point

    Indian Sandstone circle with Acer as focal point


    Raised Beds

    In each corner of the lower space 1400mm square railway sleeper beds will be raised 600mm from the ground. To the left of the space, a corteen steel screen will provide a translucent divide between this plot dividing the upstairs rear garden. Opposite this on the right hand side, an arbour seat will be positioned and a highly scented rose will be trained to grow over it.

    Raised beds provide easy access

    Raised beds provide easy access


    Fresh boundaries

    A new fence will be installed on the right hand side and painted in Wild Eucalyptus a classic grey green shade.

    Fences will be painted a soft green

    Fences will be painted a soft green


    Planting

    Planting in the garden will be soft and blousy following a cottage theme.Evergreens will form the backbone and form winter interest while seasonal perennials will give blooms and scent in the summer. Creeping ground cover plants will also weave their way across the gravel in-between the paving slabs to soften the hard landscaping.

    Inspirations come from Kandinsky, Mackintosh and Art Deco

    Inspirations come from Kandinsky, Mackintosh and Art Deco

    Soft colours, blooms and and arbour give a cottage appeal.

    Soft colours, blooms and and arbour give a cottage appeal.

    Scale plan produced by the East London garden Designer

    Scale plan produced by the East London garden Designer

    CAD visuals help the client see the garden

    CAD visuals help the client see the garden

    Cottage planting softens the garden

    Cottage planting softens the garden

    If you are looking for an East London garden designer and think Earth Designs might be the company for you please contact us for a garden design consultation.

    To see how the project progressed please visit Facebook and view the album ‘Courtyard Garden in Walthamstow’ or our Pinterest board ‘Cottage courtyard garden in Walthamstow’

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    How to nail a sensational garden border design. Mishmash of plants? Here’s the ‘how to’ guide.

    Most of us have been guilty on occasion of popping to the garden centre and coming home with a mishmash of plants bought on impulse. We pick the showiest specimens, often not reading the care label, plant them wherever we have space, and hope for the best. Sometimes it works out ok, but often the plants ultimately prove to be unsuitable – the wrong size, colour, shape or species for the space. However with a bit of planning it is fairly easy to create a planting scheme that unifies our entire outdoor space. Here we look at not only the position of the plants and the styles that you could choose but also colour and texture.

    Right Plant, right place

    A successful planting scheme can make or break a garden. It is important to get the right plant in the right place and make sure they all have a relationship with each other. Whether we are freshening up an existing scheme or creating a new border, there are many factors which need to be considered. If a plant likes sun there is no point putting it in a shady border. It will not thrive. Look as well at the expected maximum height and width of the plant at maturity. This will give you an idea of how much space it will need. Most plants come with a care label, but at the very least they should have a name. Look it up online and follow the instructions.

    Some planting terms you may encounter:

    • Annual – A plant that completes its entire life cycle (growth, reproduction, death) in one season.
    • Biennial – A plant that completes its entire life cycle in two years, growing in the first year and reproducing and dying in the second.
    • Bulb – An underground storage organ with fleshy scale leaves from which the plant flowers and grows before becoming dormant.
    • Deciduous – A plant that sheds its leaves each year.
    • Evergreen – A plant that retains its foliage throughout the year.
    • Hardy perennial – A plant that lives for more than two years and is fully hardy.
    • Herbaceous plant – A non-woody perennial plant, often dying back in the winter and becoming dormant by means of underground rootstocks or a woody base. Growth resumes in the spring.
    • Semi-evergreen – A plant that retains most or some of its foliage throughout the year.
    • Shrub – Shrubs are woody plants usually with multiple stems arising from or near their bases. Shrubs will not develop a bare trunk like a tree, however, some large shrubs can be pruned into tree-form by removing all but one straight main stem.
    • Specimen Plant – Normally a tree or shrub grown in a prominent position where it can be viewed from different angles.
    • Standard – A tree or shrub that has been trained to a certain height with a long bare stem and foliage at the top.
    • Topiary – A shrub or tree which has been carefully pruned and trained to give it a unique shape unlike the shape it would form if left to grow naturally.

     

    Planting Styles

    I am not wedded to any particular planting style. I have my favourite plants which can often work across two or three different styles. However I do think it is a good idea to try and work to a theme, however loosely, to acheive some unity and flow through your beds and border. Below are some examples of different types of planting styles. They are by no means exclusive of each other and many plants can work across several styles:

    Cottage – Characterised by free-flowing, colourful, seemingly unplanned landscapes, cottage gardens use every bit of growing space. Plants in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures spill exuberantly onto paths, climb up arbors, and burst out of planters. High maintenance.

    Tropical – A lush planting style, achieved through dense plantings of appropriate evergreen and flowering plants. Has a distinct appearance with spiky palms, broad leaves and brightly coloured flowers.
    Needs lots of water, sunlight and attention to survive.

    Contemporary – Focussed on simple planting, often with a mainly green colour palette. Planted in straight lines or ordered in groups of odd numbers, preferably threes or fives. If you want to do a mass planting of one type of plant try planting them in a grid pattern.

    Japanese – Serene and relaxing featuring evergreens in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures.

    Mediterranean – Focusses on texture and colour, usually with blue/green foliage and purple, red or yellow blooms. Strong structure to create definition. Evergreen trees and hedges are popular for this purpose. Drought tolerant and cold hardy. Fairly low maintenance.

    Architectural – Similar to Tropical. Strong shapes, big leaves. Contemporary. Can get very big. Reasonably low maintenance.

    Wildlife – Can be worked into many other schemes. Socially responsible, nectar rich, berry producing. Avoid use of chemicals when gardening. Low maintenance if you are content with a chaotic space that does its own thing.

    Prarie – Swathes of herbaceous perennials and grasses. Minimalist and naturalistic. Better in larger spaces. Doesn’t look great in winter.

    Plant layout

    Plant shapes are the backbone of a design. Look at most borders and you’ll notice several distinct types of plant shapes. A good rule of thumb is ‘tallest at the back, shortest at the front’, and the same applies to a bed you can walk around: tallest in the centre, smallest at the edges.

    The trick is to start small, choosing just three plants that look good together. If you want a basic blueprint, go for one upright plant, a bushy one and a short spreader, so that when they’re in a group the outline is roughly triangular.

    When you’re making a whole border or an entire small garden, make up lots of trios and then join them together. There’s an easy way to make the planting scheme “stick together”: either repeat the same plant in several of your groups, so it pops up several times throughout the arrangement, or else have one ground cover plant underlining the whole lot, which gives a great sense of continuity.

    garden border design

    Tallest at the back, smallest at the front

    An upright, a bush and a spreader.

    An upright, a bush and a spreader.

    Once you have you trio, combine and repeat.

    Once you have you trio, combine and repeat.

     

     

    Texture

    Texture can be seen as well as touched. It is not always something we consciously register, although we do recognise it instinctively. When we see textures in the garden we compare them and the differences often have an aesthetic impact. It is important not to make your planting one big blob of textures and colour – a little structured variety will create a more appealing scheme.

    The shape and texture of the plants you choose will have an effect on the way your garden is perceived. Bold textured plants can seem closer than they actually are, while fine textured plants seem further away. To make a small bed seem deeper, plant coarser (bolder) textured plants towards the front, medium textured plants in the middle and fine textured plants at the back. If you want a large area to appear smaller and more intimate, reverse those suggestions.

    place different textures together for added drama

    place different textures together for added drama


    Colour

    Never underestimate the importance of colour in the garden. The colour scheme unites the space. A planting scheme that changes colour with the seasons will give the garden an everchanging appearance. Colour can steer the design but to do so the colour scheme needs to be set out in a balanced way. The easiest way to achieve a balanced colour scheme is with reference to a colour wheel and colour theory. Many of the most successful schemes I have done have been a simple green and white scheme. It calms the space beautifully.

     

    Use the theory of colour to create unity in the planting

    Use the theory of colour to create unity in the planting


    Planning the perfect border.

    If you would like to learn more about garden border design, we offer a short masterclass called ‘planning the perfect border‘. To book your place, please click here.

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  • essex garden design

    Chalkwell garden designer gives space a makeover

    Dave and Debbie were looking for a Chalkwell garden designer as they have recently bought a property in Chalkwell. They have come from a house that has a large garden, to a house that has experienced some degree of landscaping but is now looking tired. Dave is a keen Gardner and has a nephew to build the space for him. They are looking for a Chalkwell garden designer to give them some ideas and a plan. Katrina stepped in.

    cChalkwell garden designer needed to revamp the space

    cChalkwell garden designer needed to revamp the space


    The Brief

    The clients have recently bought this large detached property. They are keen gardeners and the garden at their previous property was sizeable. The new garden is much smaller and had been previously landscaped, however it is now looking tired and in need of new life. There is a line of large conifers along the back boundary which are imposing but do serve to screen the garden from the railway line beyond. The existing lawn is struggling somewhat and will need to be replaced. The existing paving can remain.

    A sketch of garden design ideas

    A sketch of garden design ideas


    The Layout

    The design aims to change the ‘boxy’ nature of the existing garden layout by adding wide curves to the space. A sandstone circle will be cut into the existing paving, creating a decorative motif and extending the patio a little.

    bold curves sweep across the space

    bold curves sweep across the space


    Revamping existing patio

    A curved rendered raised bed will frame part of the paved circle, and will serve as a backrest to free standing curved teak bench placed on the paved circle. A stainless steel water blade attached to the raised bed will fall into a reservoir dressed with cobbles to create a focal point in this section of the garden.

    A paved circle is added to the existing patio

    A paved circle is added to the existing patio


    Lawn

    The main section of the garden will be laid with an oval shaped lawn, with a raised bed constructed from new railway sleepers running down the left hand side of the space to retain the banked planting bed.

    a oval lawn adds drama

    a oval lawn adds drama


    Pathway and archway

    A curved pathway laid with self-binding aggregate edged with sandstone setts will arc around the lawn to provide access to the area at the back right of the garden.A reclaimed timber arch will mark the entrance to the bottom of the garden. A shed/gym will be installed in the left-hand corner, while a second structure, which could be a recreational space of some sort, would be placed to the right.

    The pathway around the edge of the lawn leads to the archway

    The pathway around the edge of the lawn leads to the archway


    Planting

    The flooring in this area would also comprise self-binding aggregate edged with sandstone setts. Planting will be in the Prairie style, with drifts of grasses and perennials filling the beds amongst a backbone of shrubs and specimen trees.

    Prairie planting creates bold drifts of plants

    Prairie planting creates bold drifts of plants

    If you are looking for a Chalkwell garden designer in Essex please give us a ring. You can view the full album on our Facebook page, or on our Pinterest boards.

    inspiration comes from the Chrysler building, Fibonacci and arts nouveau

    inspiration comes from the Chrysler building, Fibonacci and arts nouveau

    inspiration comes from circles and sweeping curves

    inspiration comes from circles and sweeping curves

    a scale plan helps the landscaper build the garden

    a scale plan helps the landscaper build the garden

    showing the garden from different angles helps visualise it

    showing the garden from different angles helps visualise it

    Prairie style planting dominates in this scheme

    Prairie style planting dominates in this scheme

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