Posted: 12/08/2012 at 18:13
Palaisglide, when I were a lass (up where Carol Klein comes from) we had a small front garden next to the (short) drive which had a standard rose in the middle, a little circular path around that and annual and perennial flowers, sedums etc. in the borders around it. That was the bit "for show", but no lawn.
In the back, we had a York stone paved back yard next to the house, a small border against the brick wall between us and next door, and behind the house was a long narrow lawn (with washing line). When we were kids we had a swing on the lawn.
The rest of the garden was privet hedges fronted by borders filled with dahlias, a Conference pear tree and plum trees, and a greenhouse at the bottom with lots of tomato plants in summer. My mum used to fill Kilner jars full of bottled tomatoes and pears.
When a local factory closed down my dad got the chance to buy some panels from the greenhouses they had in the grounds, so about 50% of the lawn was turned into greenhouse! But by that time us kids had grown up and didn't need the space to run around in any more.
Green Magpie I agree with you, you need a bit of open ground so that you can stand back and admire your borders etc. The only alternatives to lawns, as I see it, are gravel (which needs spraying with chemicals), decking (expensive to fit and also requires maintenance) or paving. Or you could live in an Italian mansion with stepped terraces affording a panoramic view over your immaculately manicured trees and shrubs!