Designing a garden is something that quite a few gardeners find difficult to do but it isn't, really. Today I'd like to blog about how I designed my front garden on what was quite an unprepossessing and impossible plot to start with.
This is how the front garden looked originally; a few humongous shrubs pushed against the front wall of the house and a bit of law with a very narrow path leading up to the front door. Boring? Definitely! Ugly? Without doubt!
As you can see the front garden is (when looking at it from the side) a very long and narrow strip of land. How to turn that into a garden that looks both good and interesting?
Let's start with the basics. That narrow 2 feet (60cm) wide path looked ridiculous as the front entrance is 6 feet (180cm) wide. So a new path was laid that is just as wide as the entrance. Makes sense, doesn't it? And, because there was no height to the garden, a pergola was added which also ties in the garden to the house and makes the transition from inside to out much more gradual.
During many months of the year you are enveloped in a cloud of rose fragrance as soon as you leave or enter the house, courtesy of rosa Madame Alfred Carriere and rosa Guirlande d'Amour.
Underneath the windows on both sides of the entrance paths were laid as well for easy access for window cleaning and the odd paint job. Then a berberis hedge was planted to keep the dogs from using my garden as a toilet as they really don't like those sharp thorns and also because it ties in so nicely with the surroundings. If you look closely at the pic above (click to enlarge) you see another berberis hedge across the street. In the third pic from the top you see a nice tree in the same colour as the berberis hedge. When designing look what is there and use it in your own design if you can.
Then rectangles were made using box. Why rectangles? Take a good hard look at the house, it's pretty rectangular, wouldn't you say?
And it's not only the house that's rectangular in shape, just look at how that wall to the right of the entrance is divided into 4 rectangles. On the right 4 rectangles of box were made and 2 on the left.
Perhaps you have heard of that old hoary chestnut that you should always use uneven numbers to make things look good in the garden and, as I've just admitted, I most certainly did not; I went for even numbers. I had to because otherwise the rectangles would be either too big or too small. But still it works. How? Well I may have 2 rectangles of box on the left but there are also 3 gravel paths there so 2 + 3 = 5 which is an uneven number.
On both sides of the path to the front door I made 2 borders. In spring they look very colourful in pink, blue, yellow, white and purple but come summer everything is white. In autumn they are brimming with colour again. I love white but not the whole year round.
Spring in the front garden
Summer in the front garden
Here's the white garden in full swing and it looks great. White is such a great colour to use in the garden, making it look a bit dreamy, romantic, ethereal. So, a white garden has only white flowers in it, right?
Wrong! You have to smuggle in a bit of colour here and there to keep it from being very flat and boring. I've planted all the rectangles up with white flowering plants and in the middle I've bunged a pyramid in every bed for a climbing rose to climb over. In one bed I've planted rosa Sombreuil, a lovely and very fragrant old white rose.
But is she really white? On closer inspection perhaps not so much.
On the pergola Madame Alfred Carriere is flowering her socks off for many months of the year. The colour of her fragrant flowers is either a very delicate light pink or white with a pink blush.
This bed is planted up with Gillenia trifoliata that flowers white but it has red stems and a reddish tinge to the leaves. So the trick with a successful white garden is to smuggle in some other colours but be subtle about it.
Mother Nature was less subtle this year. I had sown some foxgloves last year that were supposed to be all white but there appear to be a few purple ones too. I'll leave them for now as they look so good but I will remove them before they can sow their seeds. The white ones will be free to self sow all over the place.
I'll leave you with the whitest rose I have in my white garden, it's rosa Blanc Double de Coubert. I love her delicate flowers that look like tissue paper, her very pretty leaves and, very important, her absolutely wonderful scent. It's a joy to work near her as her fragrance fills the air; it's a lovely rose scent with a hint of pineapple. Scrumptious! This year it was this rose that unexpectedly won the race of the roses as she flowered first on April 23.
copyright 2009 Y.E.W. Heuzen