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Redesign large garden advice


I'm looking for inspiration and advice with a garden redesign, it is a very large garden and this is the first third! This part of the garden used to mostly be covered in gravel with mature plants and a large border at the front. We have removed the gravel and some plants.

The garden is north-west facing and is fairly heavy clay.


We've put in a land drain across the garden (it has flooded before), it runs in front of the rotary line and behind the blue bag.

The part that was the border (at the front of photo) I'd like to put in a herb garden. I'm going to add gravel to aid drainage. It will have steps and a path through the middle.

I'm not so sure about the rest of the garden, we plan on putting in a lawn in the middle and have borders either side. I had thought about a Japanese influenced garden as we have acers and azeleas which are staying. I've also thought about ferns and foliage plants on the left where it gets more shade and adding plants with white flowers. But then I don't know what to do on the right!

More photos below, all thoughts appreciated.


Looking over to the right and the summerhouse


View from the bench on the right of the garden


Planned area for herb garden, left side of photo


Looking back at the house from the area in front of the summerhouse


  • KamoKamo Posts: 41

    The patio is planned for the right with a BBQ and pizza oven (if can learn how to build one)

  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,903

    You seem to have lots of good ideas image.

    A Japanese area with ferns in the shady part and big hostas (Empress Wu or Sum and Substance, for example) in amongst azaleas and acers would be a lovely calm space. Acers vary in regards to tolerance of sunshine - some don't like strong afternoon sun, some can't cope with morning sun (on damp leaves). Azaleas seem perfectly happy in sunshine as long as they are out of the wind and the hostas will also do OK in the sun as long as they don't dry out. So you could take the Japanese style right across that section of the garden. It doesn't have to be raked gravel. A koi pond and a lawn would be just as appropriate. Or a white flowering cherry as a specimen in a lawn.

    The herbs need sun and drainage. You may need to make some raised or banked beds, depending what you want to grow. I have clay soil and have rosemary growing in the ground with plenty of grit and stones under it. But lavender is hard work to keep alive in clay. Pots and planters are more versatile. Mint, sweet cicely and English mace will grow on the shady side (confine the mint in pots, even if they are bottomless ones sunk into the ground). Feverfew will grow anywhere, as will marjoram and oregano.

    Two recommendations: for herbs, have a look at Jekka Mcvicar's recent designs for the RHS show gardens. For the Japanese gardens, visit some English Japanese gardens. There are some beautiful ones around the country and they have their own 'take' on Japanese style which is easier to sustain in our climate.

    PS Buy a kit for the BBQ/Pizza oven. Easy peasy. They'll be sold off in the sales in autumn image

    Last edited: 14 August 2017 09:48:57

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • KamoKamo Posts: 41

    Thanks for all the advice Raisin girl, those hostas look great, most of the shrubs and trees I have are deciduous so I think I need some more evergreen plants too, I know some ferns are, do you know of any others that I could use?

    Luckily the soil where the herbs will go has had more organic matter added so it is a bit less heavy than the rest of the garden. I plan to have mediterranian herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano on the more sunny side, I'll avoid lavender (thanks for the warning) and will add as many stones and grit as possible. Thanks for the list of herbs which like shade, glad I've got quite a few choices. I'll definitely be growing some mint, I like the idea of bottomless pots can it not escape them though image

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