The Garden Plan

garden map


It is safe to say that I would never get a job as a garden designer – my brain just doesn’t work in the right way, it’s too distracted by the detail (in this case plants) and I am hopeless at what my father would have called technical drawing.  He was a drafts man and my youngest son has inherited the same abilities but whilst I can draw, neat and precise is not my strong point.

Anyway, this weekend I am laid up with a cold, having nursed my youngest through a nasty case of flu last week and whilst I would normally succumb there is part of me that is restless having already been coped up a week.  Therefore, when I saw that Cathy, over at Rambling in the Garden, had posted  a plan for her garden I knew this was exactly what I needed to pass the time in between sneezes and sniffles and to gain some sense of achievement this weekend.

So here it is – the map of the back garden.  It isn’t to scale, that proved to be beyond my brain but it is roughly right.  I think I might be a little too wide but it does give you an idea of where I am talking about, for information the garden is about 40ft wide, as for length I guess about 80ft but the slope makes it hard to work out.  The hardest thing is the gradient of the garden which also makes it hard to judge how one space’s size relates to another.  If you look out of the upstairs window you get a completely different impression of the relationships to if you stand in the garden and I don’t just mean because you are nearer.  I have included the steps throughout the garden which hopefully will give you some sense of going up but I think the gradient on the back slope is about 45 degrees and the wall running behind the greenhouse (the red line) is about 4.5 ft tall.

The plan does include key large plants and I have added the canopy of the trees although as you will see they are conveniently in winter whilst the rest of the garden is in summer.  I wanted to show how far the canopy of the Prunus stretched.  The Willow has had a few branches added but at this moment in time it is little more than a trunk due to the tree surgery back in October.

Also I think the plan shows the areas I am struggling with as there is more gaps showing.  The areas I am happy with such as the Cottage Border and the Woodland Border were easier for me to ‘colour in’ whilst the ‘Old Bog Garden’ was more challenging as I can’t make it work in my head let alone on the ground.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, which is probably no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, that I have been over thinking things and I need to just go with the flow.  I think this might be my mantra for next year although I will have to recite it a lot to get it into my head.

For a pictorial tour of the garden from 2013 follow this link.

I plan to follow Cathy’s approach and include the map on a separate tab at the top of the blog so it is easy to find.


26 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathy says:

    Helen – I was similarly inspired by Cathy’s plan – a splendid idea I thought, as an addition to a blog site. Mine is just a rough sketch next to the desk as I type, but you’ve done it! Maybe you’ll spur me on as well.
    I also notice that you’ve chosen exactly the same trees as me, when I had a smaller garden. The Sorbus vilmorinii and the Amelanchier (don’t know what your Prunus is).
    I agree with your other blogging friends – don’t overthink and (most importantly) criticise yourself too much. I think your drawing is actually rather good (this is something I used to do for a living, so I have at least one foot to stand on!) – garden designs are different from other technical drawings. They have to be inspirational as well (a tough thing to do!)

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I don’t know what the Prunus is either. It was planted probably back in the 1980s when the house was built. I am hoping that now the willow that was swamping it has been cut back it will come into it’s own

    2. Cathy says:

      I followed the cutting back of the willow and will look forward to seeing what happens – it all looks good to me!

  2. It’s a very pretty and clear plan Helen – don’t do yourself a disservice. There’s nothing worse than a sterile, computer generated plan with lots of hard edges. Well done, treasure it!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi FG
      Thanks. I said to my sons it looks a little mad, their response – well it reflects the garden!

  3. This is such a good idea, I need to do something like this… I also need to remember what all the plants are that I’ve got and do some decent labels…

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi June
      Remembering what plant is what is a whole other issue!!!

  4. That is a beautiful plan; much more inspiring than a soulless technical drawing! Well done and we hope you feel better soon. AoF

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi AofF
      Thank you that is so kind. I have never thought of the technical ones as soulless but I can see what you mean.

  5. Cathy says:

    I love this – and it really serves the purpose as even without looking back at other posts I can visualise all your different areas from what I remember of them and now I can see exactly how it fits together because even with written description a map really puts it all into perspective. We differ in that I can do the neat(ish) and precise (ish) but am not good at drawing, so your little drawings add another dimension altogether to your map and make it like a work of art. You should be proud of what you have achieved, Helen – a job very well done, and I am chuffed to have been the unexpected trigger of this worthwhile activity 🙂

  6. rusty duck says:

    It’s brilliant, and makes it so much easier to understand how your garden is laid out. I had worked out some of it, but the top left hand corner was always a bit of a mystery!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      Arh that’s because the compost bins are there, all a bit boring!!!!

  7. Tina says:

    I’m impressed with this plan and the drawing. I think the trick with any art design is that it has enough of the technical so that you know where you’re going with the artistic aspects. As an outside observer, I think you accomplished that goal. I love that you have so many different types of garden in a relatively small area. I look forward to posts about your progress!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Tina
      Thank you. The number of different areas is due to my catholic taste in plants, which does not necessarily lead to a cohesive whole!

  8. What a gorgeous garden plan! I envy your skill at putting it together. It’s probably something we all should do, as gardeners, to keep track of what’s growing. It would be interesting to see the same type of drawing in a couple years time as a comparison — seeing what’s changed and what hasn’t! I need to do something like this, too, but will have to wait until summer so I can find everything again! Get well!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi TG
      Thank you, I think being unwell and bored made me do it. Any other day I would have given up at the first hurdle.

  9. Julieanne says:

    What a beautiful plan. I don’t think you have missed out on the drafting gene. I like how it gives the viewer an idea of how you can move around the garden. The important thing is that the plan does what you need it to do.

    I’m quite unable to do anything like this and had to resort to using a programme to do mine, all squares and rectangles, which definitely isn’t as pretty. #planenvy

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Julieanne
      Thank you, I find it easier to sketch than fiddle with programme. It took several attempts and lots of rubbing out

  10. Chris says:

    Helen I love this. It’s really good to have an overall plan to look at – makes a whole of everything – so I can picture where the elements fit in. Love all your posts. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      hi Chris
      Thank you and best wishes to you and yours for Christmas

  11. Thank you for sharing your plan. I too over think nearly everything I do, but my husband keeps that in check for me because he will plant without me if I am taking too long with my planning. LOL
    Hope you are feeling better soon and I look forward to more of your blog posts in 2015

  12. I too liked Cathy’s idea and will try to put such a plan together….your plan really gave me a great feel of your entire back garden. I could follow down the paths and up the stairs…wonderful way to really get to know your garden.

  13. johnvic8 says:

    Thanks, Helen. It helps to put your posts in perspective. Well done.

  14. Anna says:

    It looks more than fine to my eyes Helen. I think that you would need ordnance survey symbols to portray the gradient 🙂 Cathy and you may well inspire me yet to do a similar exercise. I hope that both you and younger son are on the mend.

  15. messmelissa says:

    I think it’s a great conceptual plan! You are brave enough to share it, something I have not had the guts to do yet. Great inspiration, thanks for sharing.

  16. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Yes it is just as I would visualise it! Reading your blog and all the photos! Now we need the front garden but again,with your previous photos etc can ‘see’ it!

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