This was my second visit, as I had been to see this year’s display garden a few weeks ago. It stayed in my mind and I knew I really liked it. I wanted to go back to look at it more analytically and find out why I liked it so much.
The first thing that jumps to mind is the garden’s focus on foliage and texture. The array of hostas is amazing, as it the variety of textures in all the plant materials. My first garden (two oh-so-short summers!) was mostly a shade garden and I fell in love with textures and foliage. I like green, I really, really like green, in all its shades.
I also find I like structure. The bones of a garden are important to me. I like the variety of heights and shapes in this garden. I think the cedars in the background and the standards in the beds create a sense of enclosure and intimacy in the garden. They also bring the garden up to eye level so that everything isn’t below you. It all seems a little more lush as you feel you are moving through the garden, not just stepping over it.
I have to say I like the colours of the large man-made structures as well: they really let the plant material take centre stage and allow you to accent with whatever colours and blooms you choose, without competition. So while they provide a frame for the garden, they really do step back and let the garden itself be the star.
Now, mind you, this garden is something of a blank slate to me as well. It is crying out for blooms and accents. It is like a gorgeous room waiting for rugs and curtains and art and sparkle. I think in that sense it provides me with inspiration as a starting point.
This pot of perennials I spotted there would be a perfect addition to that garden. I thought it was absolutely sublime. The colours are subtle and the shapes are very architectural.
So, as I dream and plan my first real I’m-not-going-anywhere-for-a-while-garden, my lessons learned from this display garden are this:
1. Form matters – I must give my garden some good bones.
2. Don’t forget texture – it adds great depth and interest.
3. Bring some of it up to eye level – it connects you to your garden and makes you feel in it.
4. I want a water feature. There were several in this garden and they were mostly understated, but the sound was somehow joyful.
Next up: Did I leave the garden centre empty-handed as per my intentions? Of course not!
When your garden is finished I hope it will be more beautiful than you anticipated, require less care than you expected,and have cost only a little more than you had planned. - Thomas D. Church