My husband and I, along with our three young children recently moved. We had been bursting at the seams for a couple of years already, but hadn’t had any luck finding what we were after….and for the right price. We had never envisaged raising three inquisitive little people within 4 walls, and struggled daily with finding a balance between keeping a neat house and letting them explore and be creative. So, after 15 years in apartment living, we needed LAND, glorious land, and luckily earlier this year we found our dream home, packed up our bongos and moved.
One of the selling points had been the quarter acre block of land, and even though there were some established gardens I knew my hubby, a horticulturist, was itching to get into the place and put his own mark on it. But who knew there was so much to consider and that something I thought I was happy for him to have complete ownership of, I had such strong (sometimes opposing) opinions on! Ha!
What is your vision for your garden? Do you want a formal garden? This garden style, originating from Europe was reserved for only exclusive properties, owned by the likes of royalty and noble families. However, in the modern world this style is widely used in domestic properties and the term ‘formal garden’ refers more to the plants you choose and the carefully planned symmetry of the design lay out. Hedges are central to this garden style, and they, along with the lawns of the property should be kept neatly clipped for maximum effect.
This garden style favours classic, green plants, perhaps with some white flowering plants added. This design style looks fantastic as it has an amazing visual impact in its uniformity and dense linear hedges, and symmetry.
This garden does require plants to grow into it. What does that mean? If you choose to buy mature plants to achieve an ‘instant’ garden, it is extremely costly, but furthermore, you will find that the overall look and shape of your hedges is inconsistent. When you slowly plant, and allow plants to grow into a space, when you trim, prune and shape, you are able to achieve a much more cohesive look.
The key in keeping it look its best is regular maintenance. If you are irregular in your maintenance, the garden will become overgrown and lose it’s ‘shape’. You will then be required to give it a hard trim, which can result in seeing thick pieces of branches within the hedge as it has been let go for to long.
Clever planting should draw your eye in and around the design,which requires careful consideration in order to create interest by using different textured foliage and varying heights of plants. Repetition is certainly key to this design style; by using one variety of plant along a whole border, the border looks strong and uniform. You can also choose to use water features such as a pond or fountain in a central position, to create a focal point.
Another option is a Cottage garden where you use dense plantings, informal design, traditional garden materials and a mixture of both ornamental and edible plants. They are more relaxed in their look and feel, and focus less on rules, and more on the love of gardening. As the garden blossoms throughout the seasons, you will be forever enjoying a new and different landscape. Originally, the cottage garden was a mixture of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees with flowers filling in all the gaps, but as time has gone on, the flowers have become more dominant.
This garden style lacks the rigidity of the borders and hedges, and does not use repetition to create formality or uniformity. Instead, this garden is a mixture of anything and everything that takes your fancy and its appeal lies in the discoveries you may make in little pockets of garden today, that you perhaps did not notice there the day before. Choose different colours and textures to add interest to your garden space.
Today people tend to favour low maintenance gardens, doing away with large grassed areas, and choosing plants that required little or no care like succulents, agaves, etc with feature pavers or rocks. Australia has such a beautiful range of sub tropical, tropical and native plants available which grow throughout the country that can be utilised to create a unique cottage garden, which is less traditionally English in style (see below examples).
For us, our garden is just a blank canvas for now. Hubby felt it needed to be stripped back completely before he could start again, so stay tuned for some progress reports. And as far as style goes, I think we have decided to go for a relatively informal garden, with a decidedly tropical/sub tropical feel and a dedicated kitchen garden for herbs, some citrus trees and vegetables. As a horticulturist, my husband understandably wants to showcase some unique specimens, so a formal garden which requires the plants to be en masse just isn’t viable.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good project, and can’t wait to get stuck into this one!