Continuing on from last week, we will now do a more in-depth discussion on some of the garden design styles. As mentioned last week, there really are no rules when it comes to design style – it is up to you and your taste. I will say that trying to keep a general theme throughout your garden is important and unless you have acres and acres of garden you want there to be a flow and a cohesiveness to the space.
The main factor that you will need to take into consideration is the architecture of the existing house or the building onsite. Try to ensure that the garden will fit in with the house. Sometimes you can even use the garden to highlight the architectural features of the house. The other factor to consider is the existing trees and shrubs – more on this in coming weeks when we discuss site assessment and tree inventory. Here are a few types of garden styles:
A modern garden style can be quite extreme with the use of materials that will have a bold impact, with strong lines both vertical and horizontal. There will be minimalist planting approach, both in species variety and quantities.
The materials can sometimes take over the feel of the outdoor space. They usually don’t have the formality of constant straight lines forming symmetry, however they will have minimal plant species planted. They can sometimes seem quite cold or uninviting.
The plants used are normally architectural type plants that make a statement and can be features just on their own or used in groupings. Mass plantings are often used that have a bold impact. Water may be used in the form of infinity edge ponds. Sometimes visitors may think that they are lifeless or sterile as many have limited plant species.
Materials are usually those in their most raw finish, so sawn sandstone, rough cut timber, decomposed granite or even chunky pieces of concrete. The materials used in these gardens are just as important as the plants selected.
NATURALISTIC OR MEADOW/PRAIRIE STYLE GARDENS
This style of planting really originated back in the early 1900’s when the German nurseryman and designer Karl Foerster, took on a revolutionary approach to gardening. It was focused on creating gardens that resembled nature more than being planned as such, although it is highly planned. Karl
Foerster developed many of the ornamental grasses we use in today’s gardens.
This style of planting was made popular again in the ‘70s and ‘80s by many German designers. They started planting out public parks with mass plantings of perennials rather than using lawn. This, in theory, was to keep down the mowing costs and mowing time. At the same time in North America, two designers, Wolfgang Oehme and James Van Sweden, had started designing spaces that were inspired by Karl Foerster’s work. In the UK, Beth Chatto was doing a similar style of planting with native plantings.
This style has continued now with designers such as Piet Oudolf’s gardens. He uses a mixture of perennials and grasses in mass planting layouts. The plants used will have a variety of leaf textures, flower colour and form and seed heads. The gardens will not really have any formality in them, but they will have repeat plantings of species and mass planting of species. They will look like plants do in nature. The aim is to recreate a wild meadow or a plain of the prairie.
These gardens will show the seasons, they have movement, they have an ebb and flow through them, where despite them looking natural they are actually well planned forms that have been created and planted almost like a jigsaw puzzle.
Next week we will focus on the next question I ask clients -what plants do you like or don’t like? Making decisions on the planting palette and selecting the correct plants for your garden is key to creating a beautiful garden.
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