I find going to see gardens is a great way to get inspiration for your own garden. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go and see Helen Dillon’s Garden in Dublin.
I took a number of lessons from her front garden:
1. Don’t be afraid to get rid of your lawn, Helen Dillion has planted 51 Betula ‘Fascination’ (birch trees) in her front garden these have a pinkish brown bark . She uses this gravel as mulch. Planted mainly with Briza maxima which is an annual grass but seeds itself quite happily every year. Helen cuts it to the ground in the winter and new plants appear every spring. The stems of the Betula are a beautiful colour combined with the peeling bark. It looks spectacular in April before the leaves have appeared.
2. You can have a seat in your front garden. I find that people don’t like to sit in their front gardens but Helen has gone a stage further and used hers to make a sculpture/ focal point in the garden.
3. Wisterias don’t just have to be grown up the side of a house. Planted as a single specimen up a pole with a hanging basket turned upside down, inspirational – you would need to keep it pruned very well to keep it within the shape but it must look wonderful in May when it is in full flower.
4. Consider structural perennials rather than a hedge. Hedges block the view altogether, however, using the evergreen Euphorbia wulfenii , still gives the front garden the privacy needed but it just restricts the view and offers you glimpses from the drive. This perennial has great presence in the garden and magnificent spring colour.
5. Don’t be afraid to plant sparsely. The borders in the front garden of the house are not jam packed with plants room has been left to admire the plants and look at them individually which is what you want with a gravel garden. This is difficult to achieve as you always feel you should be putting more in, I think the proverb ‘less is more’ applies here.
I am a qualified garden designer with a keen interest in contemporary, natural and traditional gardens. You can find me on Twitter of like my Facebook page where you will find lots of tips related to gardening.