Lawns set off borders but there are more naturalistic alternatives that do not require such high maintenance. Meadows tend to incorporate a mix of longer grass and mixed meadow flowers. The flowery meadow below is a mixture of fine leaf fescues. These fescues typically clump together to form an effective textured height of about 20cm. It is suggested that these fescues are mown annually in November to a height of around 12cm. To add further interest to the meadow spring bulbs and summer annuals are mixed throughout the meadow display. These flowers help attract butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. The meadow can be framed with turf cut edging to draw the visitor’s eye to the stunning display. For the last decade many gardeners have begun to question the sustainability of mowing lawns weekly. The beauty of meadows has been rediscovered. Meadows reduce noise in the garden, machinery wear, pollution and labour. They are beneficial to pollinators and visually pleasing. They soften edges and help deter garden visitors from walking in perimeter areas by guiding their route.
First impressions in a garden are very important. Entrances and gateways must make a clear statement to draw visitors into the garden. A change of areas in a garden can bring an element of drama into the space. A moon-gate has been used in Chinese gardens have an expressive purpose. They frame the garden and signal a new space lies ahead. It also has the ability to highlight the view capturing a sense of adventure for the visitor.
Terracotta flower pots can be grouped on steps, garden tables, in corners or beside seats to dress the garden. Some may contain permanent plants whilst others can be non-hardy summer display only. These plants can then be exchanged throughout the year depending on the season and what is looking at its best. The simplest designs tend to be the most effective when it comes to grouping and arranging your display. If your pots stay out all year ensure they are frost proof. Plastic pots can even be used and hidden behind more attractive clay pots so that only the plants are seen.
Water in the garden can be a refreshing oasis that awakens the senses. Here an old millstone and trough have been used to create a sculptural focal point. The gentle dripping noise provides a sense of calm in the garden and masks traffic noise. It is also a great home for many small aquatic plants and wildlife. Water drips through the pebbles below and is recirculated by a hidden pump. The water reflects and enhances the colours of the pebbles and light gravel that dress the feature. When small water features like this are used in the right setting they have the ability to enhance the setting more than any other feature in the garden.