Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.-Mrs C.W. Earle, Pot Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897
The introduction of possibly ‘younger’ designs or more designs from a new younger generation to our television screens certainly allows those in that domain to cause slight controversy. I shall rephrase. It allows select sectors of society to be more amenable to gardens that are not middle of the road and not liked by vast, large amounts of the population to be built. (That is, they transcend into something a little more than just ‘nice’ gardens.)
Whilst television has allowed a slight licensing law be permitted to the young ‘uns of the gardening world, it certainly has not, in Ireland, encouraged the full acceptance of a new wave of flair, genius and aura-like elegance to be cultured or developed. They maybe fable-like conceptions in some eyes, but the industry of horticultural products and services is worth €2.33 billion annually. Some of this is surely spent on ‘new age’ landscape design. Although I will not like all that I see I know I can take a little from this and make it something that I do like. I simply feel the garden should reflect a little of the soul. How many of you can truly say that you are happy, sincerely, with the piece of ground that surrounds your house? When was the last time you relaxed, unwound and after leaving a hard days struggle from your place of work (or just tough day!) excused yourself and found some serenity in ‘your’ little world outside.
The house is a symmetrical development or construction where all elements serve a purpose, through an equation. A garden should be the opposite. It is a place from the heart that takes you away from a world so functional and correct. Yours may not be a television documentary (nor does it need to be) but the heart should ‘feel’ your place outside is worthwhile. I would not dare suggest that we need to go foolhardy with ill-conceived visions into our gardens tomorrow and perform inappropriate and nonsensical acts upon our plots. I would suggest that in a lot more than the planning and symmetric tribunals that cover so much of our airwaves and newspapers is there inspiration to be found. Maybe it is time that these slight visionaries where embraced (even just slightly) and that our dream was churned from a mere conversational pastime into something real. Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes we just need to allow a little more of it into our lives, our homes and moreso our gardens. Can we not forget the newest Bentley or BMW for one season? Can we go back to childhood dreams that, possibly, seem so long ago and let loose in a new world outside? In a full season I may create some of the finest gardens in Ireland – but how many rouse or kindle the imagination? What I may like, personally, you may not, naturally. I do not wish to set a new list of rules for garden design. I would suggest that our gardens could be a little more than they are and sometimes it can come so much easier from the heart and mind. We have moved from the ‘80’s where straight edge beds of allysum, lobelia and grisilina hedging coveted our Saturday afternoon and Sunday used to be a day of rest. We skipped through the ‘90’s where cobblelock driveways and patios rocked our world. Now in the new millennium decking is everywhere to be seen. Although these are not unwise additions to the garden or home, they are somewhat commercially driven and an easy choice when deciding to do a little to the, for so long neglected, garden.
Most people who possess anything like an acre, or half of it, contribute weekly to the support of a gentleman known as Jobbing Gardener. You are warned of the danger that he may prove to be Garden Pest no 1. - C.E. Lucas-Phillips, The New Small Garden
I may be reiterating a point that is not believed by all by suggesting that you consult with a horticulturist, on not all, but at some point of a garden development. For those of you about to embark on a truly amazing journey, if you do not wish to employ the services of somebody qualified in the trade; visit your local garden centre; visit your neighbours gardens; join your local garden groups, seek as much advice as you can.. even read a blog. You only have to choose not to listen to it if you wish. We as a nation are growing. The figure of €431 million spent annually, by the public, on flowers and garden products will obviously grow too. With good advice and some direction you might not have to spend like my some distraught callers tell me – that is, a new plant every week, increasing this figure further, without need. Why? Because the last one usually dies. Before you begin to design you must be inspired. It’s your garden and it should tell your story, from the heart.
Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans