A skip was hired and filled. Nice men came and took out overgrown shrubs and their stumps. A blank canvas. And no real idea of what to fill the space with except that I wanted lots of plants, lots of flowers, no lawn. Limited funds meant that a few shrubs (pittosporums, viburnum, smoke bushes) and a few herbaceous perennials (achillea, penstemons, japanese anemones and so on) were supplemented with a load of self seeding annuals (candytuft - I have an absolute love for this plant, with memories of simpler times many years ago when the time taken for these seeds to germinate seemed an entire lifetime, love-ina-a-mist, cerinthe, cosmos, bedding dahlias, californian poppies).
Visits to gardening shows helped fill the gaps. Even when there weren't gaps. What we have now is loved by butterflies and bees. And I enjoy it. The postman enjoys it rather less, as he gets thwacked in the legs by wet foliage as he walks to the door. But it seems like it is missing something, and that something is structure. There is nothing that captures the eye - it slides from plant to plant. No bad thing, maybe - I love plants. But I am starting to feel it needs something more. A little less chaos. A little less variety. A little more order. SomeBeans will barely be able to believe I've just written that - my middle names are Chaos and Disorder.
And so I took myself off to evening classes on designing your own garden, and have been learning. And practicing. And thinking. It's difficult - the other (mostly) ladies in the class all seem to have extremely large gardens, where there is room to experiment with different styles, have different 'rooms' which perform at different times of the year. Some of them seem to have room for landforming, like at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. I need something that looks good (or at least reasonable) all the year round. And I have discovered a problem. My imagination - or rather lack of it.
I find it difficult to come up with ideas, or at least ideas which will work in the space provided, and with the backdrop of our rather ugly house. I drool over pictures in books - whilst the ladies above exclaim over photos of traditional gardens with sweeping lawns and large ponds looking over open countryside, echoing their own gardens, I find myself drawn to more modern plantings. Clipped trees to give structure, but still with abundant but perhaps more controlled planting with fewer types of plant.
Does anyone have any tips on how to develop an imagination - is it like a muscle, developing the more you use it, or am I doomed?
Just added this - Leee John certainly had some Imagination. Just look at the sequins on that!