Visited English gardens, now want to revise my own

carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)June 27, 2011

Has this happened to any of you? You travel to another country, see their gardens, then get ideas of how to change your own.

We just spent a few days seeing some of those perfect and famous gardens in England, and now we're trying to figure out what we can do to our own garden beds and landscapes that will bring them to such beauty.

Of course, having the Sissinghurst microclimate would help. And getting several dozen knowledgeable volunteers to keep them weed-free and deadheaded would also be ideal. But without those conditions, what can we do to make our gardens better? We're already weeding, manuring, watering etc etc.

My latest thought is: make more space for each plant instead of crowding them. Vary plant heights within a bed for greater visual interest. Have more of each kind of plant in a clump, for a better look from a distance. Work on color schemes but don't get obsessive about it. Look around one's neighborhood to find out what specific plants and varieties do really well. Try not to push the zone limit (my constant mistake).

Those Eng. gardens all have greenhouses and other structures to raise their own seedlings. I suspect that if I did the same (sans greenhouse; maybe using grow-lights indoors), the baby plants would do better than the ones I buy at garden centers. They also all have 8-10 ft. high brick walls that are used to grow fig trees, clematis, roses and espaliered fruit trees, on the south face.

The other gardening aspect they have is, lots of extra acres to control views and outside sounds (motorcycles, for instance). So, ha ha, I need 20 extra acres, 1 -- no, make it 2-- greenhouses, high brick walls, greater understanding of each plant's potential, and maybe 1 -- no, make it 2 -- good-looking male garden assistants.

How are the rest of you facing the problems of famous garden visits followed by garden envy?


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LOL, Carol! Yes, the assistants are important, even if they're not so good looking.

Do you have photos from your trip? Did you use a tour company, or go it alone? I've been dying to do an English garden tour, but it never seems to happen. On the other hand, when I come home from any trip, I seem to have photos of nothing but gardens! It's so interesting to visit botanic gardens and even small neighborhood parks in different countries - I tell myself that garden style is as important an aspect of a culture as the architecture and other arts, and I'd really (if secretly) rather visit gardens than museums.

Back home ... I think you can try to control views, even without the acreage to create gorgeous views. Perimeter planting with 'appropriate' gaps is my goal, and this is also my worst problem - finding plants that will grow to, say 18 feet, to block the view of neighbors' houses, but not too much taller, to prevent claustrophobia. It's a real challenge to get the appropriate plants to grow around the perimeter, where there are problems like maples (serious shade and root competition), solid wood fences (which rob both rain and sun for smaller plants) and lack of my attention (who can remember to water and weed the unseen?).

Please tell us more about your trip!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 11:01AM
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asarum(z6 Boston)

Just keep remembering that England is a whole different world to garden in. Must be nice, but not the climate you are given to deal with.

I grow under lights to get plants I won't be able to buy locally (and for the fun of growing from seed). I am not at all sure that growing plants from seed produces better looking plants in the garden than you could get from transplanting purchased plants. I don't see it myself.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 12:14PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Asarum, I'd like to grow seedlings myself because I've experienced a few disasters (blight etc.) from starting with plants bought at big-box stores and some garden centers. They might not look better but I think they'd survive better.
Diggingthedirt, I'm trying to grow just enough short trees in my wetlands to not see the trailers further down, but not to block our view of the ocean. Of course it depends on where you stand: shift 6 ft. to the left and there are the trailers again. So part of my attempts involved making the middle distance of the view, i.e., the slightly closer view, more eye-catching. You all may remember when I wrote about the future giant windmills that will be marring our view some day, and how to mask them out. Same problem with the trailers, except the trailers are only about 8 ft. high, and the windmills about 450 ft. high. Oh well, I'm probably trying to do too much with a piece of land that's 100 ft. wide and 800 ft. long and that has neighbors.

I'll start a separate thread "What I learned from English Gardens" with pix.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 5:03PM
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