It’s catalogues galore now isn’t it! Sarah Raven, Mr Fothergills, Parkers – just so tempting. But remember a garden is not created by plants alone. A garden needs to have paths and seating at the very least, possibly steps and walls, and ideally some tasteful artefacts placed around it (a hot tub is, of course, only for people like Caroline).
So whilst we’re waiting for the weather to warm up so the proper gardening can start, we three have come up with six new garden features you could have a crack at now.
1. A dry stone wall. Despite aspersions being cast by E and C over the gap between ambition and ability, we built ourselves a dry stone wall during the first lockdown (our feature picture this week) and there is no reason why you couldn’t have a bash at one too.
There was a bit of preparation required in sorting out the stones which was covered in a blog last spring (link at the end) before we got onto the construction phase.
2. Chimney pots. We all have a few pots in our gardens, but if you’re looking for a bit of height and don’t want to pay the eye-watering sums charged for a really huge pot, try looking on eBay for an old chimney pot. I don’t fill the whole thing with soil, just choose a suitably size pot to drop into the top. Ferns work particularly well.
Hmmm, Laura – I know we’re all desperate for projects to fill our lockdown days, but building a full-blown drystone wall, lovely as it is, is quite an extreme way of filling the time between breakfast and wine o’clock. How about something a little less dramatic?
3. Mirrors. The etymology of ‘garden’ is from Anglo-French and then back to the Frankish word ‘gard/gart’ meaning an enclosure or compound (how appropriate at the moment!), and that carries with it the sense that the space has had human intervention in the form of boundaries.
These boundaries ‘define’ the space. Much is said and written these days about disguising or blurring these garden edges, ‘borrowing’ wider landscapes, making your ‘enclosure’ feel larger etc. You might clothe the fences with trees and climbers, or erect or plant a ‘screen’ halfway down the garden, so you don’t see all of the garden at once from the house. It’s only natural to want to see what’s round the corner! Another ruse I use here is to install mirrors next to the wall, to give the illusion that the path carries on beyond it.
There are a few things to say, if you fancy having a go at this:
a. Think about what you are reflecting – soft foliage is much more ‘simpatico’ than the washing line or you in your nightie………………I expect!
b. Fix a mirror firmly and don’t put it up so high that it will interfere with bird’s flightpaths. Ours are low, but we sometimes have to cover them up for a couple of weeks in spring if a little male bird becomes fixated on attacking his reflection rather than finding a missus…
c. Put the mirror in a shady position – reflecting the sun can be a fire hazard or a danger to folks’ eyesight.
4. Add a reference point. If mirrors are not your bag, then consider adding some inanimate objects as points of reference among your plants or at the end of a path.
Trellis, metal or wooden tripods, sculptural pieces, a birdbath, stepping stones, a large pot – choose things that you like and that match the style of your patch. They can all make a garden more personal and the journey around it more interesting and satisfying.
And the connoisseur on this topic brings up the rear as usual. After touring gazillions of OPGs (Other People’s Gardens) on Sunday afternoons, I can tell you most of us don’t yearn for sandstone walls or busts of Aphrodite. After the mandatory 10 years of accommodating childrens’ slides and trampolines most of us move swiftly, and with gratitude, to creating outdoor drinking spaces. And we’re happy with these for the next four decades.
If you don’t have any, or enough, now is the time to get planning. You need somewhere quite close to the kitchen (supplies), flat and preferably incorporating a little solid structure upon which your bowl of crisps could sit. Please don’t imagine you have to build one of Laura’s walls to achieve this. It’s why God gave us:
5. Gabions. Big wire mesh baskets you can get online and fill with stones or pretty much any dross you have in the garden – magically it looks quite presentable when tidied into a bounded rectangle.
One of our blogging contemporaries Lee Burkhill, aka Gardnen Ninja, created a video on how to construct them, I’ve included the link at the end.
6 Wooden block constructions. If this sort of adult lego is up your street, please also consider the merits of getting to grips WoodBlocX, based five miles from my home in the Scottish Highlands. Raised flower beds, planters, retaining walls, ponds you can literally build an entire adventure playground from their products, block by block. They got the thumbs up from Dragons Den and I keep hoping I might bump into Peter Jones at the local petrol station but no such luck yet.
NB Louise has tips for creating stunning natural garden features that look good all winter long, click on Great Plants this Month box below to find out how she does it
NB If you’d like a bit more gardening chit-chat from the3growbags just enter your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning
Let’s see just how ambitious we were with our drystone wall last February