Forum home Garden design

Overwhelmed by large new planting area



  • Cecelia-LCecelia-L Posts: 103
    Amazing insight as always thanks Fairy! 

    Looks like I got some more research to do before I start. 
    Having reread the entire thread to absorb the ideas, repeated pattern is the way to go. Creating a rhythm with height. I am not going to coordinate colour just yet until the I got the bones right. Maybe I could plant a few large shrubs to anchor the site and give it height, then mini hedging to divide the area into smaller more manageable parts. 

    Need to look into planting a beech hedge nearby, as per my original plan there should be a hedge planted about 2.5 meters away. 
  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    My advice too would be to take your time and enjoy the process. We had always had a normal sized garden until we bought a house with a 2 acre 'garden' in the summer of 1988. All it had in it was 2ft high grass, three apple trees and three oak trees. We didn't do anything until the following spring except cut the grass back.

    For Christmas, my husband bought me 3 books, one about trees, one about garden design and the other a garden encyclopedia. This was pre internet of course so books were my bibles. I went on to cultivate the garden section by section and didn't plan it as a whole. I'm telling you this so that hopefully you won't get overwhelmed as your thread title suggests. I made many mistakes as you probably will but it's part of gardening. 

    As a matter of interest, we sold that in 2000 and bought a house up here with a 3 acre 'garden' so I had to start again. I still made mistakes though. 
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,219
    It's a never ending learning curve isn't it @Uff?  We often have to move plants that either haven't thrived, or have done the opposite   :)

    I hope that doesn't put you off @Cecelia-L ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    Absolutely Fairygirl. Now that I'm on my own I'm back to a small garden again but it's a never ending learning curve and I really wish that I hadn't planted those 3 shrubs 7 years ago so close that I have to go out and prune them today.
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • Cecelia-LCecelia-L Posts: 103
    I have done a bit more research and I love this idea 

    As the proportion of the site is quite a bit longer and narrower, the effect isn’t as balanced as I had hoped. I may have to adapt and have two central circles with paths as opposed to one as shown in the pic. 

    The idea is to section the plot into four flower beds at 2.5mx14m (or 2.5x6m with two circles). Perhaps I could add more stepping stones inside the flower bed to access for the larger beds. 

    The centre circle is quite small so just room for a birth bath/urn on a stand and surrounded by a perennial, maybe dwarf salvia or something blue/purple.  

    Each flower bed will have roses as the body and one evergreen in the outmost corner as anchors. These will offer the bones during winter months. The peonies will be grown closest to the wall for extra warmth and security from wind. 
    If I keep an informal hedge it will allow the plot to evolve into other styles in the future. 

    @Fairygirl moving plants is to be expected of course! I have already moved my hydrangeas quite few times. I hadn’t realised they prefer dappled shade with steady water supply. Some were too thirsty under the trees while others were scorched in the sun. 

    @Uff I agree a large garden is extremely difficult to maintain. Mine is five acres and no matter how hard I work it never seem to look substantially different. It took us five years to restore it to a reasonable condition. Land drains, ditches, new lawn, new trees, new hedging, the list goes on. My wellies were constantly caked in mud until recently. I made so many mistakes along the way too! I bought the wrong grass seed, it had too much rye grass. It feels like they grow an inch a day in the summer. 

    Finally I can start to have fun and I just want to dig in! Pun intended :D 

    I will most definitely take the slow and steady approach and finalise a strategy first and foremost. 

  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited May 2022
    Monty Don and his family took a field and built a garden from scratch, with separate rooms. Maybe read some of his Longmeadow books on his strategy. He likes some elements of formal planting and structure. There might be some good ideas you could use around pacing, design, wind and intention planning.

    If you have budget on your side, be sure to get in all the help you need.
  • Cecelia-LCecelia-L Posts: 103
    Thanks for the recommendation! 
    Creating rooms is such a traditional and classical approach that I daren’t do until I have learned more about gardening and horticulture as a whole.

    The best help I have received is to ask a professional to design the garden for me. He came up with the most amazing ideas that went well with my life style and needs. 
    Frustratingly he simply labeled this bit as flower bed and I just didn’t know where to start. Thanks to everyone’s help I am feeling much more confident now and have a basic idea of what I want. 

    Thinking of it, there is also an Irish yew maze and a willow structure that I am supposed to do but haven’t got the headspace to start just yet  :# maybe next year, I need to get hold of some bare-root irish yews this winter 

    I tried getting help but the garden was in such a state most gardeners were not interested. For the time being husband and I will have to muddle along the best we can. 

  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited May 2022
    You have lots of amazing ideas, but your original enquiry was how to deal with overwhelm. I think the advice still stands that in order to procede steadily and with fun and to not get squashed by the work load or disappointments at early efforts, it's wise to start small and enjoy learning with that and working outwards.

    I wasn't suggesting you build rooms, just that Don's books on his own garden development might offer some insights for your plots.

    You could certainly get a designer to help specifically with planting schemes if that is something helpful. 

    In this video Bruce frames the discussion of overwhelm in terms of growing food, but he makes some excellent points about growing in general (and creating) and about keep going. How to celebrate your successes so far and learn from necessary failures. Wise words. 

  • Cecelia-LCecelia-L Posts: 103
    Thanks again @Fire
    I have a much better idea of what to do now. Being able to bounce ideas off the knowledgeable and experienced is invaluable. 

    I looked into some old Gertrude Jekyll books for inspiration. Many points were already mentioned here, especially finding the right plants for the space as opposed to using the space for my existing potted plants. 

    I think it’s best to have two circles of peonies and plant rose bushes along the path rather than definitive box hedge/evergreen hedge. That will divide the space into 8 beds of 2.5x6m. 
    The front beds will be devoted to low lying plants, max height 50cm. Beds at the back will have larger flowering bushes at least 1m tall. Therefore only half of the space will be dedicated to Perennials. 
    Bulbs such as daffodils and tulips could be planted along the path to give interest in early spring and define the lines when the peonies die back. 

    I will look into the possibility of letting the soil slide a bit naturally and avoid having a brick border. Such as this 

    A tiny little border at the front to allow the planting area to blend in with the rest. 
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,112
    It's great to have the plants that you love, but don't forget that peonies only flower for a few weeks in early summer, so don't rely your circles of peonies as a main feature of the design. I think they'd be better in a mixed border with other things that will carry on through the summer and into autumn.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
Sign In or Register to comment.