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A Godalming Garden

When the owners of this property moved here from an isolated country residence their priority was to screen the garden from the view of neighbouring properties. A mature evergreen Cotoneaster tree in the centre of the garden and a few existing laurels provided some screening and it was decided to use mature standard Hollies in other positions. These trees had the advantage of having a 5 foot bare trunk, so that climbing plants could be allowed to cover the fence behind them and provide flower and foliage interest while their well-established head started at fence height and provided significant instant screening.

The previous owners had left much of the back garden bare, apart from some evergreen shrubs along the back fence. It was decided that the boundaries of the property should be blurred by covering all the fences with evergreen climbers and flowering evergreen shrubs. The two side entrances to the back garden were given special treatment to frame the view ahead ; an arch was placed on once side and a pergola on the other. Both of these were covered with climbers. In the bottom corner of the garden a loggia was erected to create a shaded seating area, and to contribute to the screening, and this was covered with climbers as well.

As the back garden was in full view all year from the much used conservatory it was important that the planting should have year round interest. Primarily evergreens were chosen and where herbaceous perennials were planted these were teamed with early flowering spring bulbs to increase the flowering season. The owners wanted the flower colours to be in the warm colour range, and some of the plants chosen had yellow variegation on the leaves to create the effect of sunlight breaking into the garden. In a planting like this every plant has to earn its keep and is chosen for its specific contribution to the overall design. It was important to use plants with arresting forms and foliage and flowers which provided a contrast of shapes and colours and successional interest.

The left hand side of the garden was predominantly shady, while the border on the right near the house was in full sun all day. It was necessary to choose plants which would suit these two different conditions, while at the same time preserve a unity in the planting. The owners wanted to grow some culinary herbs, so these were integrated with the planting in the sunny area. Two stepping stone path were laid through the widest sections of bed, and the ground in between the slabs planted with prostrate perennials.

Obviously scent was important, particularly around the patio area. Scented climbers were used on the house walls, and plants with scented flowers and aromatic leaves on the patio edges.

Stone containers filled with seasonal bedding were placed at the entrance to the lawn, and on the border edge on the lawn diameter. Three months after planting the garden looked mature.