Out of all of the Love Your Garden transformations, this has been the biggest one we have ever attempted to do…
In this huge area in the middle of Wales, we created something for a very special family in the span of a week.
You can get the look by going for naturalistic planting in curvaceous beds and fun family spaces.
The first thing to do was to carve out the area which was absolutely packed out with overgrowth, so there was a phenomenal amount of clearing. This was made tricky as the access into the garden was limited by the fact that we were sandwiched in between two roads… but the transformation for the family went ahead against all odds.
One of our first goals was to put a pathway in that would navigate from the house right the way through to the back gate as an alternate route for the family to get in rather than from the busy road.
This was created from a series of sleepers that were cut into a beautiful curved effect, not just curved in pattern, but in height level as it came down the incline.
This split the landscaping into two halves and so gave ample opportunity for planting on either side to draw you down the garden path. The pathway was so sizeable that a Portuguese laurel hedge was planted to soften the hard landscaping as it melted into the lawned area. Structurally, the walkway helped hold back the soil like a retaining wall and gave opportunity for some heavy planting.
There were lots of examples within the garden of reusing or repurposing old wood. The stumps from the trees we’d cut down to make space were made into pretty planters and planted up with rustic ferns to quite a fantastic effect.
The back of the garden was a particular treat to build.
This substantial play area for the garden was made out of timbers along the back.
Having an area for the kids to go and play, whilst not cutting into family time was really important. Adjacent to the kids zone was the outdoor building for relaxation for the parents too, so that the family could all make use of the garden and not be separated—an open plan living style.
In the play area was not just a giant wigwam but walkways and climbing apparatus. Dense and dynamic planting around the side created an ambient garden for the children to adventure in.
This was layered with decorative plants to give colour and a sense of lightheartedness, with bright Japanese maples and auburn Heucheras.
Linking these separate spaces were some lovely little touches and thematic planting to tie it all together.
For instance, some ambient planting of Heucheras made an appearance again throughout the garden; seeing them spilling over the side of iron sculptures in fern leaf, to mirror those that Frances planted up in her tree stump planters, looked particularly good.
Rest and relaxation
There was a whole host of plants that inspired a sense of peace to the garden’s ambience. Much like many therapy or sensory gardens, the planting was naturalistic, soft and in muted tones with a hint of fragrant or audible enjoyment too. Salvia ‘rose marvel’ gave a pop of colour as did the cheery calliope geraniums.
Aubrieta was set cascading over the side of the walling and trees, like the hawthorn Crataegus ‘Crimson Cloud’, gave incredible garden interest. Other trees provided height and structure but also were positioned to help drown out the traffic noise.
Large dense foliage is great for this but also, when positioned on higher ground, sort of embraces you in a comforting hug and gives the impression of really being in a tranquil and secluded spot—ideal for relaxation.
For the same reason, a seating area fit with a gentling trickling water feature was built next to the house. It blocked out the external noise pollution from this magical secret garden and provided a special space for reflection.
Throughout were intimate, social areas for the family dotted about and these were all interconnected with the accessible pathway. Joining these miniature breakout spaces was the clever planting and I think it worked really well.
The upright spikes of Verbascum ‘Jackie in Pink’ sat amongst blue ribbons of Lithodora and grasses to soften as well as small clusters of herbs like lemon lavender which is useful for cooking at home but also fills the area well.
Active areas for every member of the family combined together with lush planting and clever features played a significant part in creating a beautiful garden.
Including Alan’s circular fire pit, it gave an area for the family to come together. The clever design had practical applications and an incredible aesthetic.