Monday, 22 February 2010

3.Sentimentality (in; How to get your garden done)

So, you have figured out – roughly what you want, a vague idea of your budget, and now you are nearly ready to get the experts in...but not quite.
I have included sentimentality - because as well as having a new garden built for you – there will inevitable be existing things in the garden (trees, bushes, features), that you want to keep, but a great deal will need removing.  Some of these things really shouldn't be in that location and are only there for what I call Sentimental reasons. E.g. 'It is so big, we couldn't remove it', and 'I've just got so used to it now' and ' the previous owners planted it on their 10th wedding anniversary' - aha but not in the right place!

One of the most important parts of a designers job is to see through what is already there and to create a vision for the future. I see this as my talent. Sometimes however this is compromised by the desire to keep something through sentimental reasons alone.

Common examples;
· An Ash tree (or similar) that has self seeded, been left unattended to grow and has now become a feature blocking out the sunset in the evenings or is in obviously awkward place.
· A large Magnolia grandiflora planted against the wall of the house (when it was popular to do so) and is now taking light from the house and beginning to damage the house itself.
· A water feature lovingly put in – but in entirely the wrong place.
· The remains of an old garden – where much of the original plan has been worn away, died or where plants that do remain look tired and lonely.

And it happens to the best of us.
I inherited a 10ft high Camellia (Camellia japonica 'Nobilissima') from an American client in London. It was in a massive pot and already 7ft high. How I got it to my house is a mystery from his 3rd floor balcony, before it stayed in its pot in a perfect position for 3 years flowering abundantly twice. Of course it came with me to the country when we moved 4 years ago, and it had by that time outgrown its massive pot. So with much thought and considerable effort I planted it out.
Unfortunately my garden has changed and my big 10ft friend is just unhappy. It has flowered pitifully only once and looks sick.
But I’ve kept it and tried to nurture it (see this article on camellia care) and ignored the fact that it is now not fitting in to the garden as it should, but after all that effort I am loathed to move it.
So what have I done.
Well my blogren you decide. Here it is, - your suggestions please. (I’ll show you what I have done later)

The point is – be open to change and relish your opportunity to stamp YOUR mark on YOUR garden right now. Have a good look at the garden and make a note of the things you really really want to keep. For all the trees or shrubs that need to be taken down remember that you can put two of each back somewhere else.


  1. Give it more time, I think it looks great there. Every plant shall have its day. Maybe by then it will have flowered more. It gives you height and depth to the garden. Remove it and the yard will have less character. If after a few more years you are not happy, then get rid of it.

  2. Edward,
    Looks like we both began blogging in January. My blog is called The Gardener's Eye! I am an enthusiastic gardener and optometrist in New England, USA. I am looking forward to reading more about garden design.