Hunter-gatherer societies included seasonal forest and coastal gardens, but the development of permanently settled farming encouraged the creation of permanent gardens for aesthetic, spiritual and philosophical purposes. Land primarily cultivated to produce food could also nourish the mind. Today, so few gardens are devoted to food production that the provision of pleasure and leisure have become the main purpose of most gardens. In this endeavour, some gardens are more successful than others. Each of the gardens shown here succeeds in its own particular way. An understanding of the context and challenges seen within good designed gardens informs the work of designers and gardeners alike.
This inviting entrance intimates a casual country garden. The pair of evergreen trees define the garden’s entrance while the crooked timber gates establish the character of the garden lying within. The visitor is encouraged to wander across the sunlit clearing to explore beneath the distant trees and discover the garden’s hidden secrets. I found this traditional garden relaxing in deepest Hampshire
In Gloucestershire my eye was caught by this contemporary colour-restricted herbaceous border, where soft, tall, blue and yellow planting rises beside a rugged grey dry-stone wall. The sprawling and vertical plant-forms counterpoint the strong, horizontal joints of the stonework. Although these plants are at their best in early summer, many have a prolonged flowering period, their effect reinforced by simple repetition and by the inclusion of co-ordinating foliage colour.
Here seen glowing in September rainfall, the long border in the walled garden at Floors Castle, Kelso. The luxury of so much space within the secluded setting of this wooded estate invites perambulation toward the distant gateway. This border’sgenerous proportions reward the ascending eye with climbing roses trained over rusting posts and chains, whose regular rhythm recurs behind generous mounds of plant colour, texture and pattern. The extensive crunching texture of gravel establishes a unifying foreground for the complex planted textures and colours.
To follow this path through the Japanese garden at Kew, the visitor’s eye is drawn down to the ground surface, where care must be taken not to stumble on rounded stepping stones as they curve between foliage mounds. Thus capturing the visitor’s attention, the hard and soft elements associate closely to emphasize texture, scale, contrast, similarity, and repetition, enhancing the sensation of journey. The dry wind-strewn leaves casually add a serendipitous detail to this February scene.
Douglas Dalgleish Garden Design April 2011