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INTRODUCTION Creating a brand new garden


Creating a brand new garden, or upgrading one that already exists, is an exciting task, giving you the opportunity to express your imagination to produce a garden that is all your own. But where do you start? There is a bewildering array of plants and accessories available. This book will help and inspire you to choose those for your ideal garden. It is full of ideas for many different garden styles, from the small backyard crammed full of containers to formal gardens, ponds, and desert gardens. Think about what appeals to you; the type of mood or atmosphere that you would like to create; how you will use the garden – as an area for relaxing or entertaining, as a playground for children, for growing cut flowers, herbs or vegetables, as a peaceful retreat – then think about how you can make the most of your space.

The first section of the book, ”The Contained Garden”, takes an intimate look at planting schemes for courtyards, patios, and areas around the house that can be enhanced by the use of containers. Ideas are given for enlivening entrances, steps, seating areas, window boxes, and window sills – even the smallest space on a balcony or roof garden can be brought to life with a few pots full of color and scent. Areas of large gardens, such as patios, can also benefit from the addition of a few carefully placed pots or containers.

You will find ideas for planting containers through the seasons, for color themes and foliage plants, with a selection of suitable plants in the “Gardener’s Choice” pages to help you on your way.

Even in an established garden, you can use containers for special purposes: to grow herbs for the kitchen; to introduce a small water feature; for alpines and succulents, or simply as decorative details that add to the overall theme. Potted plants may be large or small-scale, and the possibilities are endless.

The second section, “The Garden in Bloom”, is a beautiful introduction to the splendors of beds and borders where flowers reign supreme. To create the maximum impact, you must plan your planting carefully. You will find advice to help you plan out a bed that will work all year round. Trees and shrubs help to establish a framework within which perennials, bulbs, and annuals become star player in their own flowering season. Evergreen trees and shrubs are essential ingredients, often adding a cool relief of green to the exuberance of the floral display. Remember the effects of foliage, especially from those trees or shrubs that shed leaves of glorious colors in the fall. This section also looks at climber and tall plants, such as scented roses and clematis, that you can use to create height at the back of the border.

auburn-ca-landscape-patioColor is the key to a successful garden. You can choose from a whole spectrum of flower and foliage colors to create clever combinations that will please the eye. A hot palette of reds and oranges will produce a vibrant effect, or choose from the cooler range of blues, pinks, and purples for a calmer, more romantic feel. For maximum impact you can plan your borders along a single color scheme, but mixing colors gives you endless effects. Harmonies, such as the restful silver, blue, and white or a more vibrant yellow, orange, and red, are instantly successful. For strong visual effect try contrasts, such as purple and yellow, or pink and orange. A selection of plants from different color paletters is suggested in the final chapter of this section.

In the third part of the book, “Garden Style”, you will find the different elements that create the essence of the garden. The types of plants that you choose and the style in which the garden is laid out depends on how you plan to use your garden; think about whether a formal or informal effect suits you, if you enjoy eating outside, relaxing in the sunshine, escaping into a peaceful haven, or resting with the sound of water. You will find that a garden designed to fit your lifestyle will be endlessly rewarding. Think about how much time you will be able to devote to tending and maintaining the garden: a lawn, for example, needs regular tending, whereas a paved area requires less effort. The “hard” landscaping – the paths, walls, steps, and paves areas – provides a framework; either use what already exists or add elements as required. You can add further embellishments, such as decking, arches, raised beds, and gates, to suit your chosen style.

Once your framework is in place, think about how to use your plants to best effect. Take into account the type of soil that you have, the amount of sun and shade that your garden receives, and the effect that you want to create. Plants can be used as features in their own right, guiding you thought the garden to views and vistas, or creating highlights with stunning flowers and foliage. Think of how your garden will look throughout the year, not just in the summer months when it will be bursting with life. This section gives suggestions for seasonal plants, and plants that fulfil a particular need, such as climbers for walls and trellises, plants for sun and shade, and plants for year-round interest.

The final section of the book, “Garden Themes”, is a wonderful collection of inspirational ideas. To make the most of your garden, why not design it around a particular theme? Themed gardens are increasingly popular and allow you to bring a touch of your own personality and style to your outdoor space. For a flower garden, you can choose the traditional cottage style, with spires of hollyhocks and rambling roses, to add a touch of the picturesque, or, for a more formal feel, enclose neatly pruned shrub roses in low hedges of trimmed box for an elegant rose garden. Flowers can be enjoyed both in the garden and in the house: include a cut-flower garden in your planting scheme.

Water gardens have special appeal. The inclusion of water can range from a wall-mounted fountain to a formal pool or informal pond. Water has a very calming effect and is often a key feature in oriental-style gardens, together with the judicious use of gravel and pebbles. This type of dry garden can be adapted for any climate, but there are particular styles that suit hot, sunny sites. Desert and alpine gardens thrive in full sun: cacti and succulents will add a very unusual theme to a hot, dry garden.

If you haven’t the conditions for the “Wild West” look, but possess a shady, dappled corner instead, then why not try a woodland theme? There are many plants that add sparkles of color to even the darkest corners. Wildflowers and meadow grasses can also be used in the garden for a natural approach. You can attract the hum of bees and delicate butterflies with particular plants, adding an extra dimension to your garden.

Kitchen gardens are for those gardeners who wish to experience the delights of eating home-grown produce, and, designed with care, they can be made to look as ornamental as any flower garden. With a little forward planning and preparation, your garden can yield a continuous supply of fresh vegetables, salad crops, and fruit. Herbs are complementary to both the flower and kitchen garden. Many herbs are extremely decorative, and will benefit any garden whether in a traditional potager or planted in container. Throughout each section, the “Gardener’s Choice” pages will help you to choose suitable plants to recreate a particular look. At the end of the book you will find some practical suggestions for maintaining your garden throughout the year, and a list of plants for particular situations, for quick and easy reference.

Gardening is a very rewarding pastime; you can devote as much or as little time to it as you wish and you will find that all your efforts are worthwhile. Think about how you intend to use your garden and how much time you can spend on it. Working in the garden should be a pleasure, not to chore. If you plan your garden carefully, each season will bring fresh delights. Once your garden is up and running, you can sit back and let nature take its course. Allow yourself to be inspired by the visual ideas this book contains and use them to work out a style of garden that is personal to you. Wish application and imagination you can create a space that will be a joy years to come.

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