I have been writing garden articles for this publication since its very first issue, hopefully providing information, ideas and perhaps some inspiration to garden owners in south-west Edinburgh.
In my writing about so many different aspects of gardens, an important and enduring theme recurs. This concerns the expression of garden quality, vital for the pervasive manner in which it affects our perceptions of outdoor spaces. Garden quality has a profound influence on our spatial experience, and is expressed through the quality of materials and construction, of planting and plant health, of brightness and shade, of shelter from or exposure to weather, of privacy, of openness and enclosure, of visual and acoustic textures, to mention only a few. Thus each garden’s characteristics are expressed well or poorly, and the quality of their expression affects the people who
use the garden.
In the intangible, emotional human responses we make to each place, we reconnect with our inherited, learned or innate understanding of our physical environment. As individuals we may choose to live in neat, orderly, controlled environments, both inside our homes and outside in our gardens. Or we may respond to environments which include some creative confusion by finding unpredicted opportunities in our everyday surroundings.
Just as people are all different, their gardens should all be different. But even within such garden diversity, good quality is desirable in every good garden. The fundamental elements expressed within gardens, in effect their vocabulary, are their landforms, planting, structures, paving and water. Whether by clever arrangement or by deliberate absence, all of these elements contribute to the expression of the overall garden quality. Is the garden good, bad or only mediocre?
The manner in which gardens are designed, constructed, planted and maintained gives expression to their essence; whether through individualist happenstance, considered forethought, successive trial and error, or by seeking assistance from a designer.
Every garden, whether large or small, has a tale to tell. What does your outdoor space say about you?
Douglas Dalgleish Garden Dalgleish Design 2011