Inspirational Before and After Gardens

Aug 3, 2015 - POSTED BY Anna Halloran - How To... , Gardeners Choice

Personally I love a blank canvas!  And although some of these before photos look anything but blank, being choked full of weeds and overgrown shrubbery, they are the perfect starting point to let your imagination go.  Your only restraints are the boundaries, the overall setting and the house itself.  When I first came to the garden in the photo above, the clients  were just building an impressive ‘Georgian’ mansion with a very contemporary, fully glazed, kitchen extension.  The house was set in about an acre of land, giving me the room to create a design that could flow from a formal limestone terrace edged with lavender and pleached  hornbeam, into a ‘flower garden’ with a formal central lawn, and beyond into an orchard, with a running stream and a wild flower meadow.  

The next garden is a small town garden in the centre of Oxford.  This was designed to serve as a quiet retreat from the client’s  busy working life. The garden had been left to grow wild for several years and you couldn’t really even see the boundaries, even though the space was limited. It’s important in small gardens to try to create a journey if you can, and this garden’s journey  starts at the lovely kitchen/family room extension with its full width bi-folding doors.  The doors open out onto a stone terrace which is edged with a full width, reflective rill.  There is a stone stepping stone over the water feature, which matches the stone slabs used for the terrace and which beckons you into the ‘contemplation’ garden, with it’s central border of 15 box balls, and it’s side borders, which are mainly planted with shrubs and perennials to offer year round display.  Lastly  there is a step up to the timber decking and the stunning, contemporary garden office.  Very low maintenance, yet with splashes of colour through the seasons, the view of the garden changes in the evening when the lights are turned on. The water feature is lit from below and the stepping stone seems to float on the water, while the Prunus tree and a few of the shrubs are lit up with spike spot lights, and the garden office glows.

The last garden was less of a mess at first sight, but still offered a wonderful opportunity to create something exciting for the whole family to enjoy.  The house itself is stunning and the grounds extensive, so there was room to create a series of totally different designs, as each ‘garden room’ had the space to transition one to the other.  Central to the design is the timeless, central water feature which leads the eye out into the garden beyond. The inspiration for this water feature with its multiple jets, came from the Alhambra in Spain – a must see destination in my book!