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Designing a new garden


by James Alexander-Sinclair

I've been busy redesigning a great chunk of my garden. It's an important area, overlooked by our kitchen and bedroom windows so it's the first thing I see every morning when I stagger out of bed.


James Alexander-Sinclair's gardenI've been busy redesigning a great chunk of my garden. It's an important area, overlooked by our kitchen and bedroom windows, so it's the first thing I see every morning when I stagger out of bed. In contrast to the rest of the garden, it's always been quite formal.

I initially laid it out about ten years ago, based on a pattern I found in a picture of some pierced stonework in a palace in India. It formed a lattice of little paths around a central brick pond and fountain. But the timber edgings have now rotted away and the bricks on the pond crumbled to dust. I replaced the pond a couple of years ago with a more modern arrangement, a sort of cross between a pipe organ and a tower block made from randomly sized square metal tubes. It's always looked a little alien, so I've decided that this year I really ought to finish it off. Some of the tubes need copper tops and it also needs a focal point, some sort of central bowl from which the water will overflow.

I also felt that the time had come for a bit of a change, so I redesigned the area, based on a pair of flannel pyjamas I had when I was a boy. They had unevenly spaced stripes and I thought it would be interesting to replicate that idea in the garden. So, last month, Mike, Baz and Patrick appeared and made pretty short work of demolishing the existing garden. It then snowed. So this is the first week it's been dry enough to get back to things, and it's been a week of much effort. I uploaded pictures to Flickr on a daily basis, starting here with the original layout and ending here with its new stripy look.

All we need now are some plants.

But which plants? I managed to salvage some box, a shedload of Crocosmia 'Lucifer', buckets of rapidly sprouting Nectaroscordum siculum and a few anemones, so the first step is to find a place for them. I hope to plant two or three different plants in each stripe so that there's some sort of succession through the summer. We've always had lots of Verbena bonariensis, so I'll probably fit some in, but I'm still thinking of other things. Some kniphofia, maybe. Definitely some grass: perhaps a Panicum 'Heavy Metal'?

So many choices. Any suggestions welcome.



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Gardeners' World Web User 17/03/2009 at 18:10

We have just moved house and have been blessed with a very large garden. Now its knowing where to start as it is totally grassed. Cant wait to get stuck in!

Gardeners' World Web User 17/03/2009 at 18:55

I love your garden, the design is quite inspiring but I can see how you have loads to choose from. I would suggest gypsophila (a bit 80's maybe but it is so soft and beautiful). Love Lies Bleeding would add a tropical feel. Definitely keep the crocosmia, it's so stunning. A favourite of mine! Good luck, cant wait to see the end result

Gardeners' World Web User 18/03/2009 at 17:35

can anyone tell me how to thicken up the grass on my lawn.i have redone the garden,but have run out of money to re-turf it[although its not to bad].some of the grass is a bit patchy and i was going to put seed down on the poor bits...but would like it to look nice and thick,its a bit shadey with many oak-trees,i back onto woods..

Gardeners' World Web User 18/03/2009 at 20:06

cant wait were moving house in three months wont have to worry about the asbo kids knocking down my canes or stomping on my veg garden even better ive the house im moving into has a front garden twice the size of mine and the back garden is three times the size of a penalty box and better sun possition anyone fancy designing a garden for me kid friendly any full of flowers with a veg plot lol

Gardeners' World Web User 19/03/2009 at 13:14

Did you have a wee willie winkie hat to go with your jimjams?

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