Part of the design process involved my garden-designer neighbour spending a couple of hours with my partner and myself, and extracting from us both what we wanted from the garden. He is not a gardener at all, and whilst happy to lend me a hand when something I want to dig out puts up a fight, he is happiest sitting out of the direct sun with a good book. I consider this to be ideal; I get my own way with all the planting decisions.
So into the design mix went space to have a seat in a shaded area, a larger space for sitting for when there were more than than two people in the garden; it was presently like trying to sit in a corridor – and this was the most important of all; to give the illusion of width to the plot. The garden is c23.5 metres long, and c4.8metres wide, which is 77 feet long and 15 feet wide in old money. Other items on the wish list were a pond of some description, the existing pond was more like a muddy puddle despite my best efforts to improve it, but I like having water in the garden. I had also seen climbing roses growing on thick ropes slung between stout wooden posts and wanted to include these somewhere. Above all, I wanted lots of space for my plants, both existing and those I had still to buy.
Beyond this, she could let her imagination run wild, just allowing for three trees that I had planted in the garden and wanted to keep in situ – they are a multi-stemmed Betula Jacquemontii which had been a present from my parents, and I’d deliberately selected it and positioned it so that the winter light would catch its lovely white stems and be clearly visible from my kitchen window, a Cercis siliquastrum that I had planted to remind me of the ones that had self-seeded themselves in my sister’s garden in Provence, and a Prunus serrula chosen for its vibrant cherry red peeling and polished stems that was planted right outside the kitchen window.
I waited to see what the final plan would look like.