Here at Cultivate Gardens in Cambridge, we love hearing our clients' feedback on their newly transformed outdoor spaces, but after your garden has been landscaped, what can you do to best enjoy it? We've compiled a few top tips for you to make the most of your garden.
The amount of maintenance required to keep your garden looking smart will depend on your garden design. Something as simple as mowing the lawn little and often can keep things looking neat and tidy. Keeping your paving clean from moss and algae will help too, so pressure wash and reseal it annually if possible.
Your garden will start to become established over the first year or two; use this time to find your favourites of those plants which are thriving, and move or perhaps even take out, any that are not working, allowing the nieghbouring ones to fill the space. garden. A garden is never 'complete' but rather can evolve along with you as your taste and needs change, so don't cling too tightly to your initial ideas.
We tend to fall into fixed ways of using our gardens, and usally not without good reason, but its also important to mix things up and see the garden from a different perspective Perhaps place a chair in an unconventional space and appreciate it from this angle; the different ways the wind moves the leaves, and the light and shadows fall throughout the day. Remember that is your garden, no one else's! What do you want to do in it? If you like sunbathing, you need to find comfortable furniture, positioned in the perfect sunny spot. If you like dining outside, or simply enjoying your morning coffee listening to the birds, it may be useful to find those sweet spots that give you the best perspectives or the perfect amount of shade, even in smaller Cambridge gardens.
Worlds in miniature
Exploring the minutiae of the plants in your garden can open up a whole new world. From the tiny hairs on silvered stems, to the myriad smells of crushed leaves, taking note of these small wonders can enhance the experience of your new garden. Try using a jewellers louipe (available on ebay for a few pounds, see how to use one here) to observe this tiny world, picking flowers and leaves and exploring their structural complexity.
Details of texture and shape can also elude the passing observer, so get in amongst the plants and explore it all. Running your hands in different directions on a leaf can reveal unexpected detail, as can rolling small stems between your fingers to reveal their shape.
We tend to think of smell as being confined to flowers, but watch a gardener or botanist try to identify a plant and they'll amost always rub or crush a leaf and smell it. Often a garden designer will have selected plants for the scent or visual detail of a leaf as well as a flower.
Our gardens naturally change with the weather, and this can have unexpected effects, changing the appearance of colours, smell and texture. For example, after the rain waxy leaved plants like Fastia japonica with take on a vibrant glossiness, whilst downy plants like Stachys byzantina or Alchemilla mollis will cause the rain to bead on the leaves and catch the light.
Colours can receed or "pop" depending on the sun, with deep reds, yellow and oranges tending to shine brightest in hot sunny weather, whilst mauves, pinks and light blue tend to be at their most enchanting in the cool of the morning or in dappled shade.
So, next time you're in your garden, go further than just looking at the plants - try to engage every one of your senses, in all weathers and times of days - you'll be amply rewarded!