If there was one place last year we appreciated more than any other part of our home, it was the garden. Where we were lucky to have a sanctuary and escape the madness of Covid-19. To sit, take in the birds singing and the warmth of the sun on our pale winter weather-beaten skin and the one place we could also enjoy the company of family and friends.
Today the sun is out and it reminds me of the good times we had in our garden. The annual nesting of blue tits, chirping loudly from the bird box secured within the mighty conifer tree. The late lazy afternoon's sly fox would soak up the rays on the lawn. The buzzing of bees busily collecting nectar from the cherry blossom. Just heaven!
Over 13 years we transformed the overgrown, weed-filled and run down garden into a landscaped wildlife-friendly haven. Here are a few components you might like to add to your garden.
Get Garden Ready
Do you have an idea of what you would like in your garden or, you might have a plan in mind, inspired by a visit to Tuscany or possibly Japan?
Did you know that you can hire an expert, not only in garden design but also in Feng Shui? They can assist in all elements from a design, right through to installation. Feng Shui takes into specific areas of the garden that are linked to areas of your life, from family to health and wealth. That water feature might not be the best in your wealth area!
The easiest place to start is with the hard landscaping. We were lucky that we had some of the foundations already in place, such as the large concrete slabbed area. We also liked the privacy, the row of mighty conifers gave us. They were also homes to birds, squirrels and provided other habitats. We hired a tree surgeon, who came once a year to prune. You could also screen with a high fence or another type of natural hedge such as beech, pivot or holly.
You might also like to assign each of the areas a different zone for example herb garden, sitting area, entertaining area etc.
Focal Points Of Interest
If your garden design is inspired by a trip to Tuscany you might like to instal an Italian style sculpture or in my case, a sitting Buddha. These can be put in plain view, drawing your eye to the end of the garden or perhaps signifying the centre of a maze. What will you choose to be the focal point of your garden?
Lighting comes in all shapes, sizes, solar and hard-wired. We had tried solar lanterns, which had worked for a little time but once riddled with water, they couldn't be salvaged.
Lighting can be purchased from many locations. After researching on the internet we found some we really liked at B&Q. The soft brushed steel lanterns were ideal for our oriental style garden. There was also a matching wall light available, which we attached to the summer house. Ideal not just as evening lighting but good security too. They were easy to install, as we had already put in outdoor electrics to the summer house. We just needed to run some plastic conduit tubing (to protect the electrical cables from the elements), under the decorative stones to where the lights were going to be placed and an electrician too!
Now comes the fun part, planting. It's good to include different textures, all year round interest and have a colour scheme. You might also like to include wildlife-friendly plants. If you have pets and children be aware some plants can be toxic and have sap that is a skin irritant. Keep in mind that some plants also prefer certain conditions ie shady, full sunlight, partial sunlight, clay soil, alkaline and acid. You might like to do a soil sample to find out what you have in your garden.
We went for pink and purple colours throughout the garden (woodland, hanging baskets, tubs and climbers), pink climbing roses, purple lavender, purple iris, pink foxgloves, purple bluebells etc. Sometimes it can be trial and error. We tried a few plants and bulbs that just didn't thrive such as hellebore and crocus. I think the squirrels feasted on the crocus. You can also use the planting to screen off areas, create privacy or add security.