Monday, 22 October 2018

Amazing what you can do in a month

NO matter how many gardens I’ve tended — whether large private estates or small courtyard gardens — I still get

Garden designer LOUISE VENTER describes how she transformed this garden in less than a month,

NO matter how many gardens I’ve tended — whether large private estates or small courtyard gardens — I still get a thrill when it comes to the implementation and final finish. And much as I enjoy the design process, my favourite part of all is the planting. That’s when the garden really comes alive.

Before: mud and more mud, the bare bones of a garden in much need of TLCAfter: the borders are newly planted, the lawn laid and the fence spruced up with colour

This particular garden was completed this week. It took a month to transform it from the “before” picture above to the “after” picture. It is newly planted, so the borders appear somewhat sparse and bare. I’ve planted with a long-term view, allowing space for each plant to establish and grow, which means the project has been cost-effective and the new garden low in maintenance.

The multi-stem Betula utilis Jacquemontii (silver birch) has yet to “relax”, having been densely stood in the nursery. The two espalier fruit trees (taking up minimal space) have already started budding and were the perfect addition to this chic family garden. Both are self-fertilising varieties. The apple ‘Scrumptious’ is disease-resistant and frost hardy when in flower. It is sweet, juicy and wonderfully crisp and the fruits are tantalisingly red when ripe — a great variety for children. The pear is the reliable favourite ‘Conference’, with fruits that are green/yellow when ripe and equally suitable for cooking or eating.

To maximise the space, I have used several climbers, which also help to soften the boundary fencing, although climbing wires have yet to be installed.

Pristine as it might appear, we have also provided for wildlife. I’ve created a log pile in the corner behind the silver birch, which will be perfect for hedgehogs and other favourable beasties, a bird bath (shallow bowl) set on large rockery stones for any visiting frogs or toads, and squirrel-proof bird feeders to complement the existing bird table on the patio. If you would like to encourage hedgehogs into your own garden and have solid walls or fencing, cut small holes at either end of the far corners of your boundary to create a “corridor” and encourage your neighbours to do the same. Hedgehogs tend to do the rounds, so it is unlikely that a particular one will remain as a permanent resident.

We have also identified and made allowance in two areas for the addition of a sculpture and a water feature, but these will be added at a later date. Lighting is due to be installed by a registered electrician.

To fully appreciate the transformation, we will have to wait until at least the middle of the coming growing season, by which time all the herbaceous plants will be in full leaf and there will be seasonal colour from the flowers — and, with a bit of luck, there will also be blue skies and sunshine. Come on summer!

— With an eye for detail, garden designer Louise Venter has a lifetime’s experience in horticulture. Her sensitivity to the environment, style and age of each property and attentive consideration of her clients’ brief is evident in all her projects, both large and small. Contact her on 07803 583687, email or visit her website at

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