Inspiring Gardens

Despite being a ‘born and bred’ Suffolk girl I almost got lost on Sunday on my way to view another group of  ‘Open Gardens’!  I decided to take in a couple of ‘Open Studios’ on the way and then wend my way cross-country, forgetting the tendency for place names to just disappear from the signposts, usually in the middle of nowhere!  However, using my innate sense of direction I managed to arrive at my destination and I am pleased to say it was worth the trip.  Being a gardener and gardener designer myself I know how much effort goes into creating and maintaining a garden and a lot of effort, dedication and passion had clearly gone into the creation of some really inspiring gardens.

Innovative planting, great use of space and individual features

The first garden I visited had been created from scratch over the last five years.  It was a long garden on an open, very sunny and largely free draining, sloping site and had been cleverly divided into ‘rooms’ with different planting styles in each.  Not being able to see all of the garden at once is a great design feature as it draws you in and makes you want to explore the rest of the garden.  Good use had been made of  both ‘hot’ and ‘cool’ colours with some great planting combinations.

I loved the use of Callistemon (Bottle Brush) to create a hedge, what an ingenious idea! The owners told me that they had all been grown from seed (collected from the original plant) and although growth was initially slow, they have been rewarded with flowers this year for the first time.

There was a large gravel garden with some really choice and unusual plants, great use of succulents in pots as well as a rock garden created in a boat!

It’s always exciting to come across something a bit different and I hope to be able to use some of the plants I saw in my future designs.

Add in lots of seating areas, height and interest with climbing plants, a vegetable garden and a pond and you’ve got a pretty special and inspiring garden.

Planting combinations and use of garden sculptures

I really liked the planting combinations and use of sculpture in the third garden I visited.  A large garden which utilising well the different areas and included some great moisture loving and shade planting,

My favourite plants were Iris ensata ‘Moonlight Waves’ used to great effect along the boardwalk and Salvia turkestanica used in one of the beds.

I also loved the use of sculpture in the garden, I think it’s an important element to include in a garden space and I have used artwork, wind chimes and lanterns in my small garden both for fun and to add ambience.

Colourful planting, grasses, sheep and Hydrangea!

Lupins seem to have done very well this year and the ones above were no exception.  The combination of pink and orange with the poppies and the rose with the Calendula also look really effective.

Given the way our climate is changing, plants that can cope with drier conditions are likely to become more important.  Personally I like grasses  as I think they add a certain grace and elegance to a garden as well as movement.  Two of the gardens visited had used these to good effect as the pictures below illustrate and of course if you have grass, sheep are handy too!!

Finally, don’t every be afraid of using striking colour combinations in your planting, if something doesn’t work you can always move it and I am a firm believer in being brave with plant choices and sometimes breaking the rules!

Most important of all enjoy your garden, what ever its size and and for inspiration go out and visit other gardens, its relatively inexpensive as my open gardens visit cost me just £4.00.  You’ll get to see some amazing gardens and meet kindred spirits who are passionate about their gardens.




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