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Consideration of gardens



Just caught a piece on the Today programme (about 8.45am R4. 23:4:18) . This was a brief interview with the Editor of Country Life, gardening section, Catherine Bradley-Hole who is leaving the role after 18 years. Her view suggests that there has been a generational rise in garden design and planting as much to do with the environment, health, food and general well-being often promoted by Radio 4 and TV. I am not a great gardener, but my student and teaching experience with Landscape Architect Par Gustafsson, showed me a new way of viewing 'The spaces surrounding and in between our houses. He always used to suggest (in a school of Architecture, would you believe?) that in any project, the first person to be consulted should be a landscape Architect...well, he would do I guess!


However, this all must've rubbed off as in my book "Self Build Home...the last thing you need is an architect!" equally appropriate for custom design, bespoke work and extensions, I attach a list of mini chapters, blogs, references, observations and teachings of  Par, on approaches to landscape and especially garden design.


The site

Site Analysis

Outdoor Room


The Seasons

Threshold and Entrances

Survey, Analyse and Propose

Courtyards and the spaces in betwwen

Transparency and Character

National Garden Scheme

Garden Design approach

Two Gardeners

How about a garden to be Proud of?

The Bible...A Pattern Language, Chris Alexander et Al

Wither Fashion

Gardens again


Amongst other chapters, I cite these chapters especially as they are about adding value and wow factor to your pride and joy...Happy designing. Email lofthousestudio@hotmail.com for more info                          


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One of the major reasons we chose the site we have done to build a new house on was the adjacent part of a field that came with the property and the ability to meld together decreasing levels of formality from the garden (proper) to the field, which will be wildlife oriented.  When interviewing architects for the project, I gave a clear brief that we wanted a house design in sympathy with what we wanted to do outside (large wildlife pond, wildflower area, etc).  I rejected one firm straight after the first interview when, having given the brief and stated that we, and OH in particular, would be taking care of the outside and are very keen gardeners, they said that they would want to do this as well on the basis that although they didn't know the names of any of the plants and shrubs that they wanted to use, they new exactly how they wanted them to look.  They never claimed to be landscape architects but I thought this was a terrible case of not listening to a client's brief for a project and how such a large outdoor area could be incorporated.


I can understand why people would use someone with an architectural bent for garden design as, certainly in urban/suburban areas, people often don't want gardens in the traditional sense, but garden rooms that work better with their lifestyles.  Friends of ours moved into a new build house a couple of years ago and although it's 4 bedroom (you could just about fit a bed into one of those!), it has a tiny garden.  They had the garden designed to be a mediterranean style courtyard garden where it doesn't change all that much through the seasons and they certainly don't stuff the borders with wallflowers in spring and other seasonal bedding.  Although I loathe the term 'outdoor space', this is exactly what it is and consequently far more useful to them than a traditional garden would be.


Your list is a really good one to consider when putting any size of garden together.  In my case, repose is a category that I will keep waving under OH's nose as he has a tendancy to stuff everywhere so full of plants that there is nowhere left to sit, as is very nearly the case with our current garden.



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Thanks for your thoughts V. Aye, in one of those listed mini chapters, and touched on elsewhere,  is after noting worthwhile views, bleak vistas, overlooking and overshadowing, to say nothing of sun angles across the seasons, consider the garden, on paper, to be covered in stuff, ideally three dimensional planting, shrubs or the trendy grasses and take out spaces for all the things you've listed...fragrant seating area, BBQ, football area or other game activities, fruit growing area, shed, greenhouse, bird-feeding zone, rockery (based on how nature does it!) sun-dial, herb spot and so on, depending on your hobbies and time etc. Ideally at junctions of paths and desire lines.

This resists the temptation to plant willy-nilly (after a visit to a garden centre) and at random from one end to another...not dissimilar to house planning. ready made plan so long as your listing is well considered...hence the chapter called 'Survey, Analyse and Propose' Par Gustafsson's sage design advise..used all over Sweden and at Byker development in Newcastle with  Ralph Erskine...one of the most complex and IMHO the most successful mass housing redevelopment projects in the UK. Happy Designing 

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