Bringing autumn wit to the garden
Dare I admit it? I have by now tired of the floral blowsiness and soporific romance of summer and revel in the arrival of the rich tones of autumn and the stimulating stark outlines of winter. Perhaps it’s the mind-freshening lightness of the autumn air or the sense of rebellion around Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night, but as the leaves fall like amber snowflakes and the plants curl up for their winter siesta a wonderful array of garden eccentricities reveal themselves and stand proudly against the low winter sun.
It’s long been a tradition in English gardens to use juxtaposition and concealment to create charming surprises around every corner, particularly in areas that demand exploration to reveal their delights.
Seating is one area where a little imagination can bring some enticing outcomes. How about a sofa made from quarry tiles, an unusable seat cut from a hedge or a group of chairs with cushions of living moss. The question should not be “why?” so much as “why not?” It’s all about suspending disbelief.
Sculpture and statuary can make a fascinating addition to any garden but perhaps never more so when displayed not as a statement piece but revealed through exploration behind or against relevant planting. How unusual for example to stumble upon a group of heads on the ground gathered in some silent debate, or wicker men set at the base of small trees as though anchoring them against the wind. And who would sit in a bench that looks ready to be catapulted skywards? Let imagination extend your garden beyond the predictable ‘dog burying its head in the ground’.
Plants themselves are a source of inspiration and all kinds of effects can be created using both living and cut plants. Don’t forget that many varieties will grow just as successfully vertically as they will horizontally, as long as they have water and light. Small grasses such as Festuca and sedges such as Carex can be planted in a matrix into frames that can be used to make wall carpets or unusual living picture frames. Effects can be created at the economic end of the scale by simply moulding soil into a shape, using concealed structural support (even corrugated cardboard can work) where necessary, and then sowing with grass or wildflower seed.
Give it go and see where your imagination takes you!