Keeping to an overall style in a garden is very often an area where clients can struggle. We’ve all been through the local nursery and seen that colourful perennial which we just have to have, or filled in spaces with little thought as to the overall impact on a space.
If its a sense of space that your after though, taking the time to look at different styles and the way plants are used to achieve this, is time well spent. Whether its the mass of colour and life in a cottage garden, or the simple but elegant lines of a contemporary garden that you prefer, specific plants all have their place.
Many gardens we visit are for clients who have just bought a new property and are looking to achieve a look outside, that they have achieved inside and a visit in the garden is very often a case of seeing many different styles of plants, planted over a long period of time, often by several owners. Whilst there is certainly is nothing wrong about this, in that it displays a garden that has enjoyed attention over the years, it can however mean that several peoples aspirations in the garden and their differing tastes can become entangled.
A key starting place therefore, is for clients to take a good look at differing styles and the messages that they convey, as good design is fundamentally about a clear message. Whether that message is about cool, sophisticated modernity, or a message that speaks in harmony with a wider landscape, plants play a central role in this and so having a style in mind for your space, will mean that trips to the nursery will compliment, rather than confuse this.
However.. is the right style purely a choice of personal taste? Unfortunately, its not so simple. As a garden is only part of a wider landscape, almost always dominated by a residence, careful consideration needs to be applied.
As an example, let’s look at a very popular architectural style, that of the Arts and Crafts. At its height in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and mastered by the famous names of Frank Lloyd Wright and Sir Edwin Luytens, this simple, ‘honest’ style of architecture, espousing a return to craftsmanship, become a popular choice in the home counties of England. And so it was that garden design quickly responded, with a style championed by the artist come designer, Gertrude Jekyll.
Honesty is what is needed when designing a landscape around such an architectural residence. Honesty not only to ones one own taste, but honesty to what the building is, and means. Shoe-horning an ultra modern garden into this space would be breaking this honesty and the result would show it, although good design can blur some of these lines, being one thing whilst in harmony with another. Instead of forcing a style, look at what style the residence is conveying and explore this. Perhaps a few contemporary touches to a traditional Arts and Crafts style design is what is really needed, rather then re-inventing the entire space.
And so to come full circle, ‘which style’? Well first, look at styles and find one that speaks its message to you. Then ask, is this something that would fit into our space? Luckily, you’ll have one key thing in your favour! Clients will most often buy a property that is attractive, architecturally, to them. This means that finding a style which will fit with the property, often means finding a style that they equally like!