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Planning a garden with visual impact

Statues aren’t often used in Bermuda gardens but they can enhance overall visual impact

The visual impact of a garden comes from its plants, seeds, fruits, leaf shapes and colours, flower colours, shape and size and of course plants’ barks.

Each plant contributes its part – a kaleidoscope of shapes, colours and movement creates a canvas of changing interest throughout the year.

A canvas can be created by using a mix of material – from ground covers to tress with added interest offered by the inclusion of annuals, bulbs and herbaceous plantings.

Interest should be aimed at year-round coverage, to enhance the garden in general as well as bringing out the best of what Mother Nature has to offer.

Having an understanding of plant association and each plant’s growth habit helps as thought should be given as to where the canvas will be viewed: will it be just from one side or from a 360 degree aspect?

Consider also the proposed beds in relation to the size of the property; the general lawn area and how one will impact on the other.

With interest in mind, consider using a single species of each, thus increasing the species used in the final palette.

Many plants in Bermuda bloom several times during the year, with this in mind locate plants with different flowering periods adjacent to one another to continue the interest when one has slowed in its flowering remit.

Even within species hybridised varieties enhance the bed and extend interest levels. To avoid the sin of over-pruning, plants should be installed on centres which allow growth to a “maturity” level before pruning is required to avoid overcrowding with neighbouring plants.

Then start the selection process. With large gardens, trees, followed by shrubs, and ground covers. Include in the tree list fruit trees, such as citrus, avocado and loquat (other fruiting types fall into the shrub category).

For vines consider Barbados gooseberry (pereskia aculeata) and passion fruit (passiflora edulis).

With beds that are viewed from one side only, use taller plants at the rear, and then medium and low-growing species. With beds viewed from all sides, larger plants should be in the middle with others cascading down on either side.

Although it’s not often seen in Bermuda gardens for some reason, statuary can enhance overall visual impact and add a new dimension when located in an accommodating area.

Statuary and other garden bric-a-brac can be simple in appearance – eg a small wheelbarrow or amphora – or architectural in nature, such as a statue in stone or metal, or a small, bricked area with a chair to simply sit and relax.

Pergolas, arbours, gazebos and garden furniture break up the level appearance of a property whilst adding other interesting elements. Vines can be another beautiful addition to a place which gives the opportunity to sit, relax and enjoy the fruits of one's labours; an escape from the outside world when, literally, you have time to “stop and smell the roses”.

To add interest to the garden, consider labelling each plant with its Latin and common name, even its origin, as many of our plants are found in many areas of the world – it can be an education in one’s own garden.

It is not widely understood that botanic names are universally understood and recognised, whereas common names are colloquial.

It is not unusual for a plant to have several “common names” thus making identification more difficult. Simply put, a jatropha hastata would be the same plant in Bermuda or Australia.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. As they say in Russia, “You only get out of something, what you Putin”.

Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in the United Kingdom. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society

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Published March 29, 2023 at 6:27 am (Updated March 29, 2023 at 6:27 am)

Planning a garden with visual impact

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