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Garden Design using Japanese Principles

When I first arrived in this garden an old raised bed and broken up pond met me.

However, overarching the area was a beautiful apple tree.

My clients wanted a peaceful garden where they could relax and entertain friends and family and yet they wanted a loose and open feeling as their garden bordered onto the open expanse of a neighbour's lawn.

I thought of how the Japanese create microcosm gardens that reference a greater landscape and how the apple could be the Queen of the Valley.

After we filled in the old pond and cleared the old rockery we replenished the soil and reused the stones to create a mountainside feeling with aged stones in natural formations.

We used three good sized Japanese Acers to form a middle canopy and then lots of Japanese woodland plants like Hakonechloa as ground cover.
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Garden Design using Dynamic Shapes

In this garden we finished in early Summer we used a way of shaping the borders reminiscent of Rudolf Steiner.

Rather than simple curves or square shapes, the shape we used blended both to create a smooth river effect yet with more dynamic sharper angles.

Doing edges this way makes a smaller space appear larger with the dynamic angles acting as portals to stronger energies, seeming to refer to a greater landscape.

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Garden Design - Inspiring colour from Nature



Normally when you design a planting scheme you need to get the structure right- this is the right proportion of volumes and shapes. Next is tone - creating a mix of deep dark foliage plants, light airy plants, making sure the leaf textures and light reflective qualities of each plant make a good contrast. My oil painting teacher, Jason Tremlet, suggests looking at your composition with blurred eyesight so as not to be distracted by colour.

But then there is colour. Glorious colour. It is not really a matter of painting by numbers. Indeed often particular colour scheme might be what a client wants more than anything else. But generally the colour comes last- and when it does we can look to everything in nature to help us with our colour combinations - jellyfish in a bay, a sunset, the muted tones of a sea landscape in the late afternoon as well as the obvious colours of particular flowers.



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Garden Design- 2 years on

Originally this garden had about 8 old Rose beds in the middle of the lawn and a few sad shrubs around the edges. Our client wanted to open the space up for kids and dogs yet have a feast of different plants and colour.

I took some detailed pictures of the planing last week. it is starting to knit together and become more than the sum of its parts. 

One great but tricky part of garden design is making sure the plants combine well and compliment each other as well as take over from each other when the other is flagging and has given its show for the year.

We used box balls and Hakonechloa macro the backbone of the garden especially since they both look good in the winter.

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Before And After- From Mud to Magic

This was the perfect muddy mess. For a garden designer the worst a garden is the better as the transformation is that more satisfying.

At first we thought to entirely plant up the area but my clients decided they wanted to keep maintenance and costs down and introduce some lawn. I think this was a great idea as the green, clean space and curvaceous beds brings out the delicate beauty of the plants

We used lots of bright, Mediterranean perennials in the front borders with more English shady loving plants as the beds receded to the back and the deeper areas of shade.

The front garden (see picture) is planted up with a single Amelanchier lemarkii with a whole swath of Sesleria grass underneath which will treble in size and sway in the wind like a Summer field.

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