Introduction to my blogs by Myles Challis – Garden Designer
When I staged my first Show Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1986, incidentally the first garden of its kind to be shown at the Chelsea Flower Show, it was met with a certain amount of bewilderment. No-one had seen an outside garden where the likes of hardy palm trees and bananas were planted alongside more familiar plants like hostas and bamboos.
Little did I realise at the time that this was to trigger an interest in a totally new style of gardening, one which was particularly popular with the male of the species, because of the predominance of bold and architectural shaped plants (as opposed to pretty/delicate colourful flowers).
This was not an instant process but one which evolved over several years but the genre has now become extremely popular. This is very understandable when you consider that this type of gardening has three great qualities:-
- It is has an immediate impact – in many cases the fast growth rate of these plants means that effects can be achieved quickly or even “instantly”
- Because by far the majority of these plants are evergreen the garden is attractive all year round and;
- It is low maintenance especially when compared to things like herbaceous borders.
My reason for mentioning these important factors is for the benefit of those amongst you who may be considering (perhaps for the first time) having your garden replanted or even completely re-designed. We are currently living at a time, much more so than before, when it is a real investment to improve and enhance the garden and surrounds of your property. A huge amount of pleasure is to be had from owning a beautiful and well-designed garden and it could be the one thing that tips the scales in your favour should you even sell up.
Don’t fall into the trap as some have done in thinking that planting up a garden is just a matter of buying a collection of beautiful plants, it requires a high level of expertise and an experienced eye to achieve the best results for your plot. Employing the skills of a professional designer is not only money well spent but could save you making some costly mistakes. Bear in mind a considerable amount of money may be involved.
We all enjoy holidays and trips abroad but it is generally underestimated the enjoyment that can be derived from spending time in our own back yards. For example an exotic style garden with its hardy palm trees filtering the rays of the sun, bamboo rustling in the breeze perhaps with the sound of water gently splashing in the background can transport us off to even tropical climes helping us to relax and unwind from the stress of life. As I have mentioned this style of gardening is very low maintenance but remember a little light gardening is very therapeutic and can create a great sense of well being.
I have always been a keen promoter of architectural plants (ie plants which create structure in the garden and interest from their mainly evergreen foliage) and hardy exotics because I know from experience that far more visually exciting results can be achieved from these types of plants.
The greatest drawback of the English climate is that the summers are relatively short. By using these plants and avoiding the depressing sight of bare twigs for several months of the year, and having instead a picture of lush greenery, we are in a sense extending the warmer season (albeit only visually). Even if it is too cold for us to venture out we can still appreciate our gardens from the comfort of our homes.
If the above has wetted your appetite and you feel that you would like to improve your garden or create a new garden I will be producing many more blogs in the following weeks on what I consider to be essential architectural plants to use…