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A garden is an investment – it’s a fluid space that can lift the spirits, calm the nerves or enliven the mind. Its use changes with life circumstances and a little bit of thought and planning in the first instance can enable our gardens to grow with us. These decisions can future-proof the space from costly and wasteful re-workings, and transform your patch of earth into a haven that will repay itself a thousand times over.
My mum’s garden has been an adventure playground for my toddler self and sister to explore – a hide and seek paradise, a football pitch, a place to grow food for a hungry family, a place to escape into (when having a teenage strop), a party palace, a dining room for the return of the prodigals with their other halves, and now, a peaceful retreat.
Here are a couple of things to think about to keep that garden growing with you…
Plant a tree today and invest in tomorrow… Or I think that’s how the saying goes. Trees are a fantastic investment. They provide us with a sense of scale, that makes us feel safe and protected. Choose the right tree and you will be rewarded with blossom in spring, shade in summer, and colour and fruit in autumn.
I would always recommend investing in as large a specimen as you can manage but make sure that you’ve checked the eventual size and its suitable for the spot you’ve selected. Trees need to be placed away from underground utilities or building foundations.
A tree can provide the perfect place for a romantic picnic, a handy branch for a child’s swing or an atmospheric spot for a sundowner. They will watch you, your friends and family grow and many memories can be made in their company.
Much like a tree, a pergola also provides us with that sense of enclosure. It can be completely open, like mine on the Parsley Box garden, or it can be clad in fragrant climbers or shade sails for a particularly sunny spot.
When placed over a particular area, such as an entertaining space or play area, they can provide practical solutions such as somewhere to suspend lighting or heating to extend those alfresco nights further into the year.
The uprights can lend support to wobbly legs, both young and old, and even take on a dramatic sculptural feel if up-lit or down-lit correctly.
I specifically chose a design for the Parsley Box garden that was partly modular and portable. We wanted a space that was sleek and elegant but could also suit multiple generations.
The bespoke planters can be placed in a variety of ways to allow different uses of the garden such as intimate nooks to surprise and delight, an embracing space that provides a horticultural hug with flower-filled planters surrounding the dining table, or arranged for space so the grandchildren can descend for fun in pop up tents or ball games. The possibilities are endless.
My planters are tiered. I chose to do this for a variety of reasons – differing heights provide visual interest but they also help with maintenance to save aches and pains when weeding and offer a handy perch for when enjoying the garden.
We have all discovered the joy of being outside a little more, over the last year, and so I would urge anyone to think about their outside space as being an extension of their home.
Where are you lacking space inside? Could your garden offer that solution? Is your garden a place to work from home? By investing in the space outside your four walls, you can enhance the quality of your time spent within them.
You could simply improve your view with some well thought out planting or invest in an entertaining space so that the whole family can all fit around one table again.
Update on The Parsley Box Garden…
We are truly on countdown now. We’re onto planting, which is where my interior design eye kicks in. I’ve always thought of the plants as the soft furnishings of a garden, the pretty bits. This is the really fun bit!
• Chelsea Flower Show 2021 returns on 21st – 26th September at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Visit rhs.org for tickets and more information.
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