Sitting here on a bleak December day I have been contemplating lots of changes to the garden next year and have found myself looking back at gardens I have visited this year for inspiration.
I have realised that when I visit gardens my interest is really drawn to particular plants rather than the planting overall. I suspect this is because I am more of a plant person than a garden designer. However, my borders are feeling rather bitty at the moment so I have been reviewing photos to look more closely at other people’s borders to see how they have combined plants and what appeals to me. The photo above was taken at Stockton Bury, Herefordshire in August this year. I was particularly taken with the planting around the pond and the way it hides the edges so well and blends into the adjacent borders. I have been trying for some time to achieve this sort of affect around my pond. I have always thought that it was good design to combine leaf shapes but the picture above shows lots of plants with strap like foilage and not much variety. Personally I think this would look better with some broad leaved plants. So whilst I am impressed with the lushness and excuberance of the colours for me this isn’t quite right and I would include some Ligularia and Hostas.
A visit to The Tynings, Stoulton in July failed to provide me with any design inspiration but it did show me that lilies are much better planted in the ground rather than in pots. The owner had lots and lots of lilies all in the borders but only one plant had suffered lily bettle damage whilst my few lilies in pots at home had really been attacked. My suspicion is that the lily bettles lay their young in the pots where they are protected more from pests and the cold than they would be in the border. I also think the plants look very messy when the flowers have finished but planting them in the border surrounding plants hide the dying foilage.
One of the real garden visiting highlights was Dumbleside in Nottinghamshire. The garden was stunning and had everything you could wish for – a small meadow complete with orchids, beautiful borders but its real gem was the planting along the stream (see photo above). I loved the combination of foilage which provided a delightful textural background to seasonal flowers – when we visited in June it was Primulas. I think what I took away from this visit was a desire to plant more densely and to concentrate on foilage as much if not more than the flowers.
However, a visit to one of my garden club members’ gardens, also in June, shows that texture can be achieved with the clever use of flowers (above) in this case through using dainty pastel shades and small delicate flowers.
So my review of photos taken over the last year has given me a lot of food for thought and ideas to mull over. I also have a pile of gardening magazines to browse through and I am already seriously considering a jungle/tropical border something I would never have considered a couple of years ago. I am planning lots more garden visits in 2010 and this time I think I will be looking more at the planting than focusing on particular plants but I am sure that there will be plants that creep on to my never ending wish list.