Friday, May 11, 2007

Garden Design 101

Today I want to explain about how and why I designed my south borders the way they are. This month it is 3 years ago that I created these borders. The pictures you see, are from the first, second and now third year of this part of Bliss. Enjoy!

Last year, when you entered my garden, this was the sight that greeted you. A path in the middle, flanked by two borders on each side. The path leads to the garden cottage where we store, among other things, our bikes and lots of garden equipment.
This part of the garden is at its narrowest only about 4 and a half meters wide. There needed to be a path, leading from the garden cottage to the garden gate. The path had to be wide enough to accommodate one person with a bike or a wheelbarrow. Many gardeners make the paths in their gardens too narrow. Think about where you need a path and what you will be using it for. Also think about what will be there alongside the path. If you put borders next to the path, make your path wider than you think it should be, because many plants have a tendency to do this.
That's right, they flop over part of the path, leaving less space for you and your equipment to pass along comfortably. Usually a path has to be at least 70 centimeters wide, but I made mine 120cm wide. I used grey concrete slabs (60 x 40 cm) and ochre yellow gravel. So, even when my plants flop all over the place, there is still enough room to use the path and not damage the plants.
When you enter my garden through the garden gate you have the conservatory on the right and the conifer hedge on the left. Both were already there when we bought the house and the hedge was very high, close to 3 meters. We cut the hedge back a bit so that it's now about 2.2 meters high, the same height as the garden fence.

There used to be only grass on this side of the house and a diseased plum tree. The plum tree was removed as it was both ill and blocking the access to the garden. The existing fence was also removed as it was about to fall down and was replaced by a new one, made of hardwood (from sustainable forests) with trellis on top.
The windows of the conservatory have to be cleaned regularly so a path was made behind the right hand border as you can see here. Behind the left hand border there's also a path so that the hedge can be trimmed without us trampling all over the plants in the border.

So there you have it, 3 paths were needed here, 1 wide one (1.2 meters) in the middle and 2 narrow ones (0.6 meters) at the sides. But enough of paths, let's talk about the fun part; the borders themselves.

The right border is wrapped around the conservatory so it had to look good from all sides. The left border is in front of a humongous hedge and it's not a very deep border, only 1.2 meters, the one in front of the conservatory is even less deep, only 1 meter. I needed something to give height to these borders or else they would be dwarfed by the hedge and the conservatory. So this is what I did, I bought some standard roses and some obelisks to give instant height. I also bought a few plants that would grow about 2 meters high in a few years time.
As you can see here, the obelisks and standard roses add instant height, visually linking the conservatory and hedge to the borders. The 2 pictures below show you how my borders looked the first year. I put the plants in, in early May and these pictures were taken a few months later, in September. Not bad, eh?
Note that we had grass then instead of gravel. Of course, a garden has to look good all year round so I used box for structure and to add year round interest to the borders.

See? It even looks good in the middle of winter when nothing is in flower.
Because of the high hedge, the left border has only a few hours of sunshine each day, even though it's south facing. The border by the conservatory gets a lot of sunshine and Mediterranean plants like lavender and rosemary do very well there.

Of course I wanted to enjoy my lovely borders up close and personal so I put a little seating area nearby. Like the left border, it's in the shade for a big part of the day, making it very suitable for sitting outside on hot summer days.

This is the view from the garden bench in front of the garden cottage. On the right you see the flowers in the wheelbarrow and on the left the miraculous pear tree.

And this picture I took last year in April, standing next to the garden cottage. The path in the middle echoes the contours of the conservatory. Around the pear tree I made a circle of grey gravel planted up with lady's mantle.
I used ochre yellow for the most part to add to the Mediterranean feel of this area of the garden and because it compliments the mostly magenta,purple, lilac and pink flowers in both borders.

So there you have it, simply two borders divided by a path in the middle, a classic Bliss garden design 101. What could be easier?

Have a lovely weekend!

It is to be noted that when any part of this blog appears dull, there is a design in it. Paraphrasing the Tatler, 38.


Bert said...

Hi, Yolanda,
What a great design. Very interesting to hear all that background information.
The result is simply beautiful!

exile61 said...

Hello Yolanda, I like the way you have planned your garden. BTW, you must have tried to post on my blog when I was updating the code. Have a nice weekend! Andrea

Julia said...

Yolanda, I love your use of gravel instead of grass. How difficult is this to install? Do you have to have it done proessionally? Also, is it really as low maintenance as it looks?

Fabulous. I love the wide path. I think there are two evils in path design: too narrow and when a path has no curves or turns in it.

Kylee said...

Okay, how about if YOU visit ME, instead of me visiting you? ;-) Lovely, lovely, lovely, all around!

A wildlife gardener said...

Great design, yolanda. I enjoyed the tour of your beautiful garden. My paths are too narrow, I know. I'm greedy with the planting!

Libbys Blog said...

Thats it!!!!!!!!! I am taking measurements and drawing a plan of my garden to send to you for designing!!! I could'nt design a booze up in a pub????????? Well actually I could probably do that! But not the garden colours and layout like you do!!!!

Carol said...

Indeed, "what could be easier"? Well, for you, but for some of us... hey! why don't you design a garden for me? What do you think? I have nothing to offer in exchange except eternal gratefulness!

You garden looks great!

Robin said...

Beautifully designed garden. Are we taking numbers here for you to design for us? Count me in!

Birgit said...

Ich liebe Deinen Garten, Yolanda. Deine Sitzecken und Wege, die ganze Gestaltung ist überaus gut gelungen. Ja, Ihr Holländer versteht eben etwas davon. Aber wir können ja nur von Euch lernen. Schönes Wochenende und liebe Grüße, Birgit

OldRoses said...

Thank you for sharing your design with us. You explanations of design concepts are so much simpler than the professionals. Now I understand!

Der Garten said...

Hallo Yolanda, es ist wirklich interessant die Entwicklung Deines Gartens sehen zu können. Deine breiter Weg hat ohne Gras wirklich gewonnen und ist hoffentlich auf Dauer auch etwas pflegeleichter geworden.
Wir hatten ja auch zuerst unsere alten Betonplatten in Mulch eingelegt. Aber als dann Veilchen & Vergißmeinnicht sich zwischen den Steinen entwickelten, sah das auch sehr schön aus. Nun entferne ich wieder alle Pflänzchen aus dem Bereich, um wieder einen freien & sicheren Weg zu erhalten. Sonst haben bei uns die Zecken leider zu leichte Absprungmöglichkeiten.
Das reizvolle ist eben das Wechselspiel zwischen klar angelegter Form und der üppigen Natur, die dieses Konzept dann zeitweilig für sich erobert.
Ich bin gespannt was es noch für Ecken in Deinem Garten gibt, die Du uns demnächst vorstellst...
Liebe Grüße Silke

Pam/Digging said...

It looks like you've got a list of clients for your garden-design business already, YE. ;-

Thanks for the show-and-tell. I always enjoy seeing how gardens have changed and matured, and you explained your design strategy very nicely. The border and path are lovely.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to Bliss!

Bert and Andrea: thanks!

Julia: gravel is very easy to install and low maintenance if you put in a layer that is thick enough. A layer of 5 centimeters would do the trick and you can do it yourself. I did, and although it was hard work shoveling all that gravel into a wheelbarrow and then spreading it around, it was a simple enough task to perform.

Kylee: sounds like a plan! ;-)

WG: I like it when plants grow over the path a bit because they soften the hard edges in the design, but I also like to be able to walk over my path and not step on my lovely plants. But I can totally understand why you are greedy with the planting, who isn't? :-)

Libby: my fees are quite reasonable. ;-)

Carol: it is easy for me because I studied design, it's true.

Robin: glad you liked the design!

Birgit: thank you for your lovely compliment. I studied design so for me it is not so difficult to do.

Oldroses: I'm glad that I've been able to make you understand where others have failed. ;-)

Silke: you are right, the gravel looks so much better than the grass did. The first year we didn't have the time to put the gravel in (too busy renovating the house), so we let the grass stay for another year. The next year we removed the grass and put the gravel in and were very happy with the result.

Pam: it certainly looks that way. ;-)
I'm glad you enjoyed the show-and-tell!

marl1 said...

Dat was een interessante garden-tour! Vooral ook de vergelijkende foto's. Mooi pad en met dezelfde vorm als de serre :-) Prachtig geworden, maar je had natuurlijk al veel geleerd van de voorgaande 100....

lenie said...

ziet er heel mooi uit , ben al jaren bezig hier , maar maak het nu meer tot een park en een vogeltuin , dus hou rekening met hun habitat , is me al werk genoeg ;))
fijn weekend

Ex-Shammickite said...

This is a lovely path. What do you do to stop the weeds growing up through the gravel?

Anita said...

I adore your garden design, too! And I remember my sleepless nights two years ago when we designed our garden! And it's still a long way to go! Our little paradise is still very young!

It's still very rainy over here since Monday - if you asked me, it's more than enough now!

Happy week-end to you!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hello and welcome to Bliss!

Marleen: ik laat graag bepaalde vormen terug komen in de tuin. De serre gaat het hoekje om en het pad dus ook. :-)
101 betekent voor Amerikanen zoiets als: voor dummies. ;-)

Lenie: ik probeer mijn tuin ook zo vogel vriendelijk mogelijk te maken en egeltjes zijn natuurlijk ook van harte welkom.

ex-shammickite: not a lot. I don't have many weeds growing in the gravel. If you make a thick enough layer (about 5 cm) then almost nothing comes up.

Anita: it's only my borders that are older than your garden, most is either the same age or younger.:-) But I am lucky of course, because of all the trees in my garden that add a bit of maturity.

Gorden & Planten said...

Vielen Dank für diese ausführliche Beschreibung. Toll gemacht!

rusty in miami said...

Yolanda, I like your design, I have a similar space on the side of my house where I have grass in the middle and I been thinking about expanding the flower beds and take out t he grass, but my dog Rosie is not happy with the idea

Kate said...

Your use of stone and gravel for the paths is striking.The plants look as if they have resided in your garden for years. What a wonderful mix of texture and colour. I like the way the obelisks and roses give height. I really like the area where your table and chairs are.

You have such a peaceful, inviting garden!

Kathy said...

Congratulations on winning a Mousie!

Tyra said...

Enjoying every bit of it, clean and tidy but still very nice and comfortable "cosy". Love to walk in your garden Yolanda!

marl1 said...

Dat voor "Dummies" kunnen we dus gewoon schrappen.....

Betty said...

Your garden design is lovely with the plants and obelisks giving highth and dimension..I like the wide paths with the pavers and gravel....The winter view is breath-taking.
Betty @ Country Charm

Dawn said...

I was so please to read that you'd won a Mousie Award. Well done!


Hillside Garden said...

Guten Morgen, Yolanda! Der Garten sieht wunderschön aus, besonders gefällt mir der Kies auch zwischen den Platten, ich bin mit gelbem Kies großgeworden. Selbst habe ich keinen. Deine Sitzecke mit den zwei Stühlen würde ich glatt nach hier übertragen, da setzt man sich gerne mit einer Tasse Tee!


Gotta Garden said...

Only three years old! What a beautiful accomplishment! I thought it was key that you decided where to put your paths and then built around wise! Also, you are so right about too narrow paths...most of us realize that too late, I'm afraid.

You have your winter interest and varying heights...just everything! You know, YE, I feel reading your blog that you truly do love and enjoy your garden...and you let us do that with you as well!

Anyway, I enjoyed reading about how you did it, your thoughts in doing it and then seeing it all come together. You are so talented!

Thank you for your efforts in putting this all together! It is much appreciated and very instructive!

Richtsje said...

Smikkelen hoor, zo kijkend in jouw tuin! Ik denk dat ik je log maar bij mijn linkjes zet, ik kan hier nog uren gaan kijken (en dat doe ik al!!).
Fijn dat je dit deelt met alle lezers!