Garden Landscapes – Important Basics First
The term ‘foundation planting’ means what it says: getting in the permanent plants, trees, shrubs, hedges, etc. which will form the framework of the garden landscapes. Special care is necessary here for once trees or specimen shrubs are planted one does not want to have to move them because they are badly sited.
I would always give priority to the outlook of the garden obtained from the house, for it is surprising what a large percentage of our pleasure in a garden comes from seeing plants from that viewpoint.
A warning which should not be needed but unfortunately often is, is to avoid planting trees too near the house. The slender stem and small head of a young tree must be related to the mature specimen it will surely become. A tree with a spread of 4 feet, when planted may have one of 30 feet in fifteen years tune.
Trees and Shrubs for Hedging
Many shrubs and trees can be used forpurposes. I have already referred to the fast-growing Cupressocyparis leylandii, a superb conifer for a windbreak, and I would be loath to do without beech in my garden; it is such a lovely green in summer and the glorious golden-brown of the leaves in winter is a constant source of pleasure.
If you have a field with cattle in immediatley on the boundary of your garden, as I have, you won’t find a better boundary hedge than hawthorn – nor a better one for keeping out children, dogs, etc. as well. Lzmiceranitida, the Chinese Honeysuckle, makes a good dense hedge, likewise Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson’s Cypress) and, of course, yew, although that is slow-growing. The advantage of all of these, is that they only need clipping once a year, whereas the ubiquitous privet, green or golden, must be given such attentions at least four times annually. For a quick-growing hedge, though, the last-mentioned is in a class of its own.
For hedges within the garden I see much merit in flowering shrubs like forsythias, berberis,, , and taller-growing like Queen Elizabeth for the colour, is always welcome and if the shrubs chosen for such purposes are deciduous, and therefore less effective as screen in winter, this does not usually matter at that time of year.
But rock gardens still have their place, of course, and the way I grow my rock plants, in conjunction with a water feature (two pools, one above the other, with a waterfall in between and anto circulate the water), provides me with a rock-water feature which is colourful for many months of the year, is easy to look after and has the kind of informality which accords well with this modern age.
My pools are made of concrete, but l have no objections to the modern fibreglass and plastic, moulded pools as long as the edges are masked with plants and stone.
Using House Walls to Advantage
Provided there are beds up against the house walls, any gardener is going to make good use of these. The warm south and west sides of the house will naturally make the perfect sites for rather tender plants, and the north and east will prove excellent for camellias (whose late winterare so easily damaged by early morning sun on frost-covered petals), the Morello cherry, honeysuckles and other decorative plants.
They may not be very large but manhole covers are just about the biggest eyesores at ground level to be found in any garden. I always feel like wincing when their ugliness intrudes on some carefully contrived and otherwise attractive garden scene. An easy way round this particular problem is to plant one of the prostrate conifers like Juniperus sabina tamari-scifolia just to one side so that the flat folds of growth blanket the ironwork.
The well-known Herringbone Cotoneaster, C. horizontalis, is another shrub I find excellent for this particular job. The small-leaved Cotoneaster conspicua is splendid for masking the bottom of drain pipes, and at the same time provides the necessary shade for the roots of the large-leaved clematis which so delightfully clothe the same pipes in their upper reaches.
The Charm of a Pergola
To me a pergola always has an old-world charm, and a small one need not take up very much room. Whilst a new pergola can look a little stark to begin with, no matter because it is still a feature which adds to the garden landscapes.
Just a few of the plants I grow on mine are the lovely white rose Madame Alfred Carriere, the carmine-pink thornless rose Zéphirine Drouhin, honeysuckle, wisteria and clematis, which provide us with continuity of colour and much pleasure. I also grow the Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea) in a sheltered corner for it is, of course, most suited for such conditions.