There is always a bit of anxiety over seeing a garden design after it has spent a year establishing. Will it have the intended effect? Does the design work as hoped?
In the past few days I have I revisited a garden that was redesigned and built last year in Ely. This is a garden for a weekend cottage that is prone to being left for up to a month at a time - the design and plants needed to be structured and low-maintenance, giving maximum impact throughout the year. The focus of the garden is the new gravel terrace catching evening light at the end of the garden, surrounded by a simple planting palette of grasses and alliums with agapanthus, daisies and salvias. The theme of grasses is continued in a block of the frothy Deschampsia flexuosa on the left which will offer a contrast with two blocks of yew clipped into severe rectangles within the grasses. The yews need another year to bush out and establish before we attempt the initial shaping, so this sculptural element of the design is not yet apparent. The Deschampsia is backed by a ribbon of the vertically-accented Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' against the wall. A familiar component of grass plantings, this variety makes a curtain of vertical stems to offset the billowing Deschampsia - the foxy red flower spikes make a lively wind-tossed screen behind the new line of birches which march along this side of the garden. The trees have had a rough ride this summer, and a couple of them are looking very autumnal already - the twiggy growth still has green beneath the bark, however, and my instinct tells me that these individuals have responded to the stresses of their first summer by shutting down early.
Overall I'm pleased with the result - there are some minor adjustments to the planting I would like to put in place this autumn, but within a couple of years the woody elements of yew, laurel and birch will be established and contributing to the structure and lines of the design as intended. The best outcome is the satisfaction of the client, who is able to use the garden as a recreational and entertaining space for the first time in 15 years.
There are more images of this garden transformation, from conifer-riddled jungle to the present in my website portfolio here.Paul Ridley Design