As we have just moved home I am finding a whole new love of the garden, having to start from scratch too means that we have free range over what we do! We need something that is beautiful but also practical for the kids. Here are a few easy ideas for on point gardens!
A garden’s a lifelong project and thinking anything different will break your heart. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to cheat a bit and liven things up fast. This year, focus on details, create pockets of interest, invest in a few lifelong accessories and kick overblown colour right out of beds and borders. We’re not about to suggest you go scorched earth or attempt a Chelsea Flower Show ‘mature garden in 24-hours’ transformation. Just work with what you have, use your imagination and steal a few of the easier ideas from people who make a living out of saying things like, “new manifestations in vegetable gardening’.
Paint a dramatic backdrop for brilliant planting
Outdoor rooms are what garden designers are calling patios these days and they’re big on screens to break up or enclose space. You may not have a grand terrace to work with, but a screen can be anything from a plain wall to some simple trellising. It doesn’t matter this year, as long as it’s painted and the colours are rich and dark: think flat heritage blues, deep and chalky greys and (for the very brave) matte black or dense purple browns. The contrast between glossy green plants and a bold painted backdrop is intense. Pale, feathery grasses look even more ethereal against slate and pewter shades. And silvery ‘moonlight’ plants like Shasta Daisies, Cineraria or Lavender are haunting and romantic offset by a powerful, painted wall.
Brave a statement border
If you’re planning to replant a border right now, single colour scheme instead of riot is the way to go for maximum impact. Ignore how impressive all those massed flowers look in the garden centre, pull yourself back from gaudy primaries and consider the subtle charms of pure white blooms and sharp, green foliage instead. A white border can look stunning and it doesn’t have to be enormous. If you’re working in a small space, look at dark ground cover and tall, stately counterpoints like lupins, foxgloves, white delphiniums and hollyhocks (watch lupins, they spread like crazy).
Put a new generation fire pit on the patio
You can call your patio an ‘outdoor room’ if you use it all-year-round, that’s the rule. Fine if you live in LA, bit more of problem in the UK. Even in summer, heating is the biggest challenge and huddling next to your glazed bifolds for warmth probably isn’t the al-fresco experience you had in mind. If you were smart enough to ignore the fire pit trend a few years ago, you can congratulate yourself now. Instead of mighty brick fireplaces, stone circles and enormous flaming trenches, the new generation Indian Fire Bowls are inexpensive, eco-friendly, manageable and double as barbecues. They’re also soothing in the evening, a good focal point for parties, look very cool right now and age beautifully with almost no maintenance at all.
Purpose planting is responsible and looks fantastic
The pioneer spirit is still growing strong this year. You might not be ready to go full chickens, three pigs and a small dairy herd yet, but a little ‘purpose planting’ is easy, responsible and looks pretty with the right plants. At its most basic, purpose planting is just growing stuff you can eat. So even a few cherry tomato plants in containers, a couple of spot-planted courgettes or an old garden sink packed with cut-and-come-again salad or herbs, is the right direction. If you’re too late to start from seed, choose plug plants instead – a plan if you want quick results too. With a bit more space, a mini veg garden isn’t too difficult and very eco. Just make sure you have the time and patience to do all the weeding and organic pest control that comes with scaled-up purpose planting.
Join the wild and native garden movement
In the past 70 years the UK has lost over 97% of its wildflower meadows. Sad aesthetically and tragic for pollinating insects, birds and bugs. Do your bit to turn things round this summer by planting native seeds in the garden. A wildflower plot needs about 2m² of spare land and looks amazing in full bloom for very little effort. If you don’t have the space or you’re the type to come out in hives at the sight of a stray weed, the good folks at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens say you can do your bit with container wildflowers and they’ve got the seeds and instructions to prove it.
The grand garden scheme might be a labour of love to last a lifetime, but not one of these ideas should take much more than a few days to get started. Have fun.
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