Perfect time to take stock of garden

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  • Plan your design: the Japanese area at the Botanical Gardens is a perfect example of how taking time to find the right design for your open spaces can pay off (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Plan your design: the Japanese area at the Botanical Gardens is a perfect example of how taking time to find the right design for your open spaces can pay off (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

What is a garden?

Whilst recently vacationing in the south of England the temperature hit 80-plus degrees for several days.

It was a pleasant experience, especially with low humidity, and it created an increase in activity with parks and green spaces adorned with bodies in all human form.

The garden/landscape is a space to be used; an appendage to our domain or office which begs the need for useful endeavour.

The Brits love their gardens, and rightly so.

They create pleasure when viewed from the house — a palette of colour, seed bark and fruit and avian activity. In reality it is an open space, a canvas in which to be creative and choices which need careful consideration.

Parks and open spaces fulfil the dimension of the “inner self” to seek peace and quiet and a release from tension and stress. This relates to the “genetic connection” to be more content and function better in natural environments physiologically, emotionally and cognitively.

There is an affinity between landscape and peace and tranquility. Often referred to as the biophilia effect, it is the instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems.

January is a good time to carry out changes to the garden but it’s better to review aesthetic value, function and maintenance in the summer months between July and October.

As the garden is used more from April to November, if the weather holds, it becomes a “facility” requiring constant attention. The question that should be asked is whether you are happy with the status quo or if change would be more beneficial visually, functionally or financially?

Maintenance is, of course, an ongoing cost regardless of the garden size and extent of the work involved. Consider that what you create you have to maintain, so it may be a case of less is more in all areas.

Location often has a bearing on the design, especially in exposed locations. For example, if there are views of the ocean the choice of plants and their placement is more important.

So what type of garden is right for you?

It is a case of each unto their own in determining the function and aesthetic values.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, whether it be a typical English garden with flowering plants and lawn dominating the site; a large manicured lawn sprinkled with mature trees for shade or a more nouveau-type garden incorporating a mix of elements.

In larger properties perhaps a small water feature creates the desired ambience of gentle ripples and movement.

Small courtyards offer privacy with interest, yet are contained and easily maintained if the designer has taken this aspect into consideration. For those with a propensity for conservation, a woodland/wild garden offers interest as the design encourages secondary and tertiary elements into the mix, with insect and avian activity.

Cost is always a primary consideration, therefore it is important to consider the design options which will assist in moving forward with the finished product.

Consider the needs and function of the garden and the return on outlay from the maintenance programme. In many gardens, hard landscaping is secondary but it has many attributes when used wisely. It also requires less maintenance than soft-landscaped areas.

In the following months I will discuss the various garden types which might be worthy of consideration. In the meantime, take time out to review your garden and ask yourself the question.

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Published Aug 15, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 14, 2017 at 10:57 pm)

Perfect time to take stock of garden

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