We all do it. There is no getting away from it. Some of us do it in our own gardens leering over the fence at our neighbours. Some of us pay to do it in stranger's gardens. Most of us photograph it, take them home and look back over them with a mix of delight and agony. Then sometimes, some of wishfully hope that someone will come into our garden and do it for us. That's right, garden design. Here are a few photos from our own garden, show gardens, a stately home garden and council trying to create a garden.
This is a clematis we bought with us from Drovers. We have no idea what it is called, at Drovers we never kept a planting diary because we thought that it was such a small garden that we would remember. How wrong we were. At Pig Row we keep a planting diary that reminds us what we have planted, where, when, how and whether it worked. You'd think that white flowers on white shed would fail but this clematis takes over from an early purple clematis and the foliage is vivid green. Sometimes mistakes work, we never knew that this was a white clematis when we planted it there, the plant label was lost some time ago.
This is a small show garden from Gardeners' World Live 2012 called George's Marvellous Garden, and regardless of the story behind this and many show gardens do have a hidden story this is a wonderful garden for a small space. Barely bigger than a parking space this show garden brings in the very thing we all like to do in other people's gardens, and our own gardens, touch things. From the rusted planter through to the shale path, to the glorious lavender this is a garden that begs you to lie down in it and let your hands wander.
This is the Grow Your Own garden at Gardeners' World Live 2012, and unlike the prior garden the budgets here have been blown sky high. The cedar potting shed and greenhouse are beyond most gardeners' pockets but there are good ideas here. The paths are wide enough to get a wheelbarrow down, though at Pig Row, we work on narrower paths due to the narrow nature of the garden. If we had wide paths, we would look like a runway at Manchester Airport. However, we have used raised planters at Drovers, and these do work if you want to get maximum impact and produce in a small garden.
This is the arbour at Adlington Hall, Cheshire in late spring. It sits at the corner of a knot garden and a hidden water garden. This is a successful area of the garden as it brings together comfort and practicality. You could sit here and see out into the world whilst still feeling cloistered by the billowing plants around you. This is a great way to use plants and rather than allow them plants to swallow up the arbour, the gardeners here have made a feature of it. There has been a lot of pruning and staking here, but it is all hidden and well managed.
This is the old walkway beside the now closed walled garden at Adlington Hall. The walled garden itself is now largely a lawn with a tiny allotment in one corner, the glasshouses are long gone but you get a sense of the grandeur here from the mixed herbaceous border. At Pig Row, this inspired us to plant in our cloister later this year a climbing hydrangea, though they are slow to grow, they are impressive when they are at this stage mixed in with scented climbing roses and standard roses in the border. They just shows that partial shade, which happens at the lower end of this border, is something that can be worked with for maximum impact.
The laburnum archway at Adlington Hall is beautiful but think twice if you have children. Though we love the scent, the shape and the way it drips down, laburnum is highly poisonous. Sometimes it is better in other people's gardens than in your own. This is an important part of any gardening, what works in someone else's garden may never work in your's.
A recent photo of a tea garden in Pannet Park, Whitby. The idea behind this should be applauded. This is a sensory garden, tactile but it is not a patch on the show garden at Gardeners' World that had more or less the same remit. This is more lawn than garden, more council approved rather than well executed design. This is a real missed opportunity as in this garden there is no journey. That is an important part of gardening, the journey through the space. In this garden we can see the boundaries, the beds, all the planting and the way out, which sadly beckons.
We will end with our own garden at Pig Row in late summer of last year. Showing the difference a year makes. Here we mix perennials beside crops, creating a patchwork effect. The budget is tight, the colour high with the use of lupins. Everything is grown from seed and the overall budget for this small part is less that £8. We use the vertical to create interest with peas, beans and lupins masking the path that runs through them and also hiding the mess that was the lower garden. This is the fun of other people's gardens, we'd love to grow lavender here but the likely chance of it surviving a winter is slim. However, nepeta will and we are growing this to act almost like a box hedge. We have discovered that box grows best for us in pot whilst in open ground it suffers. There are no fast and hard rules in gardening other than to break one now and again.