I was reading a garden design book recently and the introduction noted that “Gardens are for people as well as plants”. In other words, we are being reminded that sometimes we spend too much time stuffing the garden with plants rather than thinking about the people and so making the garden an experience to be enjoyed. One of my first jobs as a gardener was to help a busy professional couple find their garden again and really all that was needed was to give them a journey to enjoy together and the rest would fall into place.
As I mentioned, this couple were my “joint” first clients and they took a bit of a leap of faith in asking me to help them and for which I am always grateful. So we had a look around the garden and they were explaining that they needed something doing but were not quite sure what.
To be honest it only took a few moments to realise what was missing – there no reason to get out and explore the garden – nothing to entice them out and wander around. The garden was, I expect, quite typical – a lawn with a large border around edge the and lots of mature shrubs and trees but nothing that would make you get up, step out and see what is going on – in other words, there wasn’t a journey to be had or to put it another way – just a path.
So let’s have a look at the garden as it was..
What we needed was a plan and here it is. The key aspect is the path that runs around the edge of the lawn.
The path is really quite simple and deals with several problems in one go:
- It provides an easy way to get close to the borders and see what is in there.
- It defines the lawn (and reduces its area) making it easier to manage.
- It provides an area to sit in in the evening and enjoy a different perspective on the garden.
- It links the two sides of the garden and encourages people to walk around
In other words, the path creates the journey.
And the end result, well here you go…
I have to be honest the path was a lot of hard work but the result was well worth it and the clients were absolutely delighted.
I used a recycled plastic edging to the path to give it a nice sharply defined look. The fence panels were also painted in a similar grey to bring consistency to garden and also make the colours of the foliage and flowers really stand out all year round.
In the end we put in stepping stones rather than just using a simple gravel path. The stones are spaced to make it easy to walk along (even the cats use the path now) and if needed the stones can easily be adjusted or removed in the future.
The clients organised a wonderful set of chairs, a really lovely water feature and some amazing lighting so that they could really enjoy the new space that had been created.
This is now a garden offers a journey – as they should all do.