Take a look at some before and after photographs of this contemporary cottage garden. Starting out with a waterlogged clay soil, overhanging trees, and a couple of tatty fences, this garden design Manchester transformed itself over 10 years into a mini oasis…..
This has been a garden altered and added to gradually through the years, it wasn’t transformed overnight….and is how most people tackle their gardens, to a greater or lesser effect. It did however have the advantage of a ‘Master Plan’ from which to work. At first replacing some of the clay with organic matter, raising some beds, adding a drain, replacing a section of fence, adding a raised lawn and a new greenhouse. Then working on the new flower beds, one by one, watching the birds and the bees move in……
BEFORE (1) Digging the clay to a depth of 50cm, removing the worst and mixing the remainder with some good organic matter……. A good recipe for the lovely plants to follow…
AFTER (1) Verbascums, paeonies and roses all thrive in the newly prepared beds. The lavender has been planted in slightly raised beds.
BEFORE (2) Rear view of the house 10 years ago with existing laurel and leylandii hedge. A new border is marked out with pegs in the grass.
AFTER (2) The flower filled border grows on newly prepared beds dug out to a depth of 50cm, clay removed and organic matter added. Circium rivulare, Nepeta, Veronicastrum, Allium and Roses all thrive. Climbing Hydrangea petiolaris grows up an east facing wall.
BEFORE (3) The whole of the rear garden was raised up by 30cm, using the surplus clay (dug out in order to sink the trampoline) to form the walls of the raised beds. The flower bed was then infilled with a compost/loam mix and the lawned area filled with a sandy topsoil mix.
AFTER (3) Raising the bed allows plants that require good drainage to thrive. The sunny left hand side of the border is the only place in the garden where thyme will grow.
BEFORE (4) Before the flowers only a Leylandii hedge. This was trimmed,with a pathway added along side it and a timber and metal rose support placed in front
AFTER (4) Rambling and climbing roses form the backdrop of this border filled with Nepeta, Astrantias, Veronicastrum and Paeonies. The silver pear tree compliments the pinks and blues of the lavender and foxgloves. This garden design Manchester has had no problem with its clay soil !
The front garden offers a very different challenge…..
Here the soil is a little lighter, but as your front garden is a showcase for your home, it needs to look good all year round. It also needs to contain a space for the car, which can often fight with a shared space leading to the front door.
A sense of arrival is important in a front garden no matter how small the space is…..
BEFORE (5) Before the front garden design Manchester was carried out, the window cleaner described it as the worst front garden in the street. Think he was right!
AFTER (5) First, the paving was laid with a good pedestrian entrance. Semi mature clipped box, and beech were planted alongside a pleached Liquidambar hedge. Pyracantha espaliers were then placed either side of the entrance door.
AFTER (5) Four years later the garden is maturing nicely. It has a strongly evergreen presence which makes it great in winter as well as summer. The Hakonechloa macra grass (between the box)and the beech turn a light brown in winter giving a lovely contrast to the evergreens.
AFTER (5) Two years on from the evergreens establishing, the flower garden starts to take off.The yellow Eremurus and blue Salvia take spring into summer.
Garden design Manchester can throw up some challenges, not least of which the amount of rain, and in many areas a heavy clay soil. Working with these conditions and improving the soil is critical to it’s success. Choosing the plants which are right for the conditions save such a lot of frustration !
I often use my garden as a test bed for new and interesting plants, sometimes pushing them to the limits. And if a plant or species is really not enjoying its life in our Manchester soil, it gets whipped out and into a pot, nurtured back to full health and offered at our annual charity plant sale…..for someone with a sandy soil to have a go! It’s good to remember when planning, that gardens are constantly on the move…they are a process, not a finished product. So here is a garden looking something like it’s best, but there will always be areas for improvement…now, I’m just off to borrow a high pressure water jet to remove the dirt and algae accumulating on the front drive……
Take a look at ‘Working With Me’ http://www.carolinebenedictsmith.co.uk/how-i-work/
The garden design Manchester in the feature was produced by Caroline Benedict Smith Garden Design Cheshire, also known as Caroline Drouet.