In our final part on the series of designing and implementing a large garden in north Leeds we focus on the front and side gardens.
There is a front pedestrian gate and path mainly used by visitors and the postman! The path was made of crazy paving and was uneven and tired-looking. We realigned it to make a smoother line and laid it with gravel with stone edges in keeping with the stone used elsewhere in the garden, this makes it far more welcoming and gives the house more kerb-appeal.
It splits halfway to gain access to the path around the house, creating an odd-shaped triangular bed. Previously this was filled with two enormous conifers which sucked the light out of the dining room and blocked the view of this unloved space.
This had to change so we planted a Cercis canadensis and sub shrubs including Lavander, Sage and Sarcococca in diagonal lines which help to draw the eye across the space whatever the viewpoint. Different coloured flowers during the summer will add to the predominantly silver and purple leaved plants ensuring it looks bright and welcoming for visitors and attractive from inside the house too.
The Cercis is a beautiful small, gracefully spreading tree which produces clusters of deep magenta flowers on dark, bare stems in late spring. Heart-shaped leaves are rich purple-red in summer turning yellow in autumn. It’s truly a great addition to any size of garden including small spaces.
To the side of the house, also viewed from the dining room, were further large conifers and a scrubby weedy patch and some huge boulders in a nod to the rockery look from the eighties. It took a lot of effort but our excellent landscaping team were able to remove them. They were not consistent with the simple contemporary look we were hoping to achieve and didn’t help when mowing the grass.
This side bed was planted to match the triangular front bed with another Cercis canadensis which can be viewed from the raised window of the dining room and the lower sub shrubs of Lavender and Sage etc.
You can easily create something similar just remember the old adage ‘less is more’. By this we mean the number of different plants and their shapes and colours should be from a limited palette, it makes for a clean, contemporary style.
Finally the bed adjacent to the low front wall which was originally full of various shrubs with some weeds was tidied up. We left the three mature Prunus and a large Lilac.
We underplanted these great structural trees with a Photinia hedge which slightly comes forward at the sides to give privacy, especially by the long drive at the side of the property.
A Photinia hedge is colourful all year with the young growth and stems red whilst older leaves are glossy green. It is a great evergreen hedge which can thrive and look good in many situations.
It is important with the early years of a hedge to trim the top to allow it to thicken up from the base before letting it grow upwards to the desired height. Smaller plants will also put on more growth over five years than an older, larger plant and result in a better, denser hedge providing you follow the above instructions.
The inside corners created by the L-shaped hedge have been in-filled with flowering shrubs – Cotinus, Deutzia, Hydrangea and Philadelphus – which again provide flowers at different times of the year and these have been underplanted with Hellebores and Nerines, an autumn flowering bulb.
The hedge has been underplanted with the white, scented daffodil ‘Winston Churchill’.
The design of these areas has been thought through to be attractive all year and provide a welcoming entrance to the garden in all seasons. It is also low maintenance, a key factor, especially in most front gardens.
We hope you have picked up some ideas from this series of blogs to replicate in your own garden.
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