Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bones, buildings and edging

I've just finished a most enjoyable renovation of a beautiful old garden in Douglas. You can see a complete photo album on Flickr but I've added a few pictures here too. This garden has fantastic bones, including a lovely lawn and shrubbery with two enormous weeping ash trees, a formal terrace and herbaceous border, and a suntrap courtyard with high walls encased in roses, wisteria and clematis.

My favourite part of the work was putting in a lavender hedge on the terrace to emphasise the French quality of the tall doors opening on to the stone flags. I also enjoyed the repetition with variation that emphasises a good herbaceous border, using many of the same plants that the client's mother had originally planted but which had been lost over the years,  such as alchemilla mollis, delphiniums, and lamb's ears (Stachys byzantinus/lanata).

The picture on the right shows a pot of arctotis, lime surfinias and nicotiana supporting a clematis disguising one of those unfortunate meter cupboards that are wished on every building these days... This renovation was a timely lesson in the importance of good, old-fashioned edging with an edging spade and side-shears. Time consuming, but vital. The client was an excellent gardener herself but short of time, which made decisions fast and clear!

I re-learned the importance of infrastructure - for various reasons the irrigation system is going in afterwards,  not before, but life would have been so much easier if it had gone in first... isn't it great that micro-irrigation has become so much more affordable?

I also loved some of the excellent quality plants such as the blue agastache and fescue grasses from Dunsland, as well as the brilliantly priced lamb's ears and geraniums from B&Q. Hanley's needs a mention too - Mr Mac to the rescue with beautiful double philadelphus and unusual blue campanulas, as always! Next up - a miniature Japanese-influenced courtyard garden with screening issues and a lot of plant moving needed. Bring it on!

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