Sunday 28 October 2012

I can't help it.

Ever since I was very young I have enjoyed drawing geometric shapes,  instead of using colour I would pick up my ruler, compass and pencil. It was a major reason I went on to study civil engineering, with the surveying and technical drawing being my best subjects.  So getting to design a garden (and working with an architect on the extension to the house) is very exciting.

I have been trying not to think about it as we are nowhere near ready to start any real planning, but it doesn't work.  You lot don't help, yes you readers who have blogs with beautiful gardens, photos and lots of creative ideas.  It seems I can't turn on my computer at the moment without someone showing something that gets me thinking about what I want in my garden. Perhaps the ultimate was a recent post by A growing obsession, on the amphitheatre created by Sue Dadd and James Griffith. I will leave the description to them, here, If you have not seen it go and read it now! They have kindly said I can show one of the photos.

Photo by MB Maher (
What is not to like about this, it ticks every box I want in the new garden: different levels, seating subtly incorporated, various routes through the area, using available materials and lots of succulents.  There seems to be something about amphitheatres and succulents that go together.  I first saw it at Minac Theatre in Cornwall.

If you are every in the area it is a must to visit.  The question is how to incorporate these elements into our flat garden.  I am wondering about using raised beds to form terracing around the edges of the garden, leaving space in the middle. Maybe even digging out the centre to create further height difference. I can work different seating and paths into this, plus of course there is plenty of space for my plants.  It would also allow me to incorporate a bank into the garden making the most of the south facing aspect.  I could also re-use materials from the various walls / building as we do the other work. The ideas are starting to form, but fitting them together into the space in a way that really works is going to be the hard bit.

This is where the garden designers earn their money, to take an idea like this and turn it into something unique without just copying someone else. I have nothing but respect for them and other artists and creative people, if I had the money there is no doubt I would use them more. This time I will have to do it myself, I hope I will be able to come up with a design that works, but they would add those little extras that turn a garden into something special.

On the plus side I will make the most of the fact that I get to get out my surveying stuff again, draw lots of scale drawings and see if I would have been any good at the design side had I gone down that path.


  1. What an exciting time for you. To actually plan a garden before one creates it would be really great. Unfortunately, I'm sort of a trial and error kind of gardener digging beds, making paths, planting, realizing that it doesn't work, trying to add more things to make it work, then finally re doing the whole thing. You are much wiser!

    1. I used to be like you. Then at my last house I wanted to do a dry bed, and actually planned it and was amazed at how much better it looked than anything I had done before. Plus I am a bit of a mapping geek, and love drawing scale drawings.