When you think of Christmas perhaps the garden is not foremost in your mind, but here at The Cheshire Garden we believe that a well-designed garden is one that can be enjoyed all year round. Whether you wish simply to admire the garden from the warmth of your home, or to forage for rustic features to include in hand-crafted Christmas decorations, the key is planning ahead.
As the explosion of Autumn colour gives way to leaf fall and faded flowers the bones of a garden are revealed, and it is at this point in particular that structure is of vital importance in a high-quality garden design. Good Winter structure is achieved through careful consideration of the shapes and forms provided by both landscaping elements and the selection of suitable plants, whether for a large country garden, modest suburban garden or tiny city space.
Structural planting will often involve the use of trees and shrubs which maintain a permanent and attractive form throughout the seasons. As well as contributing to the architectural composition of a garden design, carefully chosen trees and shrubs can also deliver stunning Winter interest with beautiful bark such as the ghostly white of Betulis utilis var. jacquemontii, or the brightly coloured stems of Dogwoods and Willows. This can be complemented by including a range of evergreen planting such as conifers and Christmas favourites the Holly and the Ivy which provide year-round interest, particularly where they have eye-catching variegated foliage.
Winter fragrance is achievable with shrubs such as Sarcococca hookeriana, the aptly dubbed ‘Christmas Box’, which exudes an intoxicating scent across the garden. Or why not position containers of clipped Bay by the front door to greet guests with a modern and aromatic feature? Leaving pruning tasks until late Winter allows the jewels of Winter berries to form on shrubs, and the sculptural forms of grasses and perennial flowers to stand and deliver in the low Winter light of frosty mornings. Taking this low maintenance approach in an informal garden not only looks great in Winter but saves you time and benefits wildlife too!
As the shortest day approaches and light dwindles evermore garden lighting can really come into its own. A garden designer can ensure that key features such as trees or sculptures continue to provide pleasure when viewed from the comfort of your living room, even after dark, by the inclusion of well selected lighting. Of course, strings of seasonal lights can also be woven through trees and shrubs or draped around entrances welcoming Christmas visitors to your home as the festivities get into full swing.
Having planned ahead to include planting which provides rich Winter interest, the garden can then supply an ample source of material for the creation of authentic and captivating Christmas decorations. Whether it’s a wreath for the front door, a garland for the fireplace or a table display, the foliage, colourful stems, bright berries and pine cones which adorn your outdoor space can be brought inside to fashion a striking display and get your guests talking.
If you want to make the most of your garden all year round, why not start 2019 by booking a consultation with The Cheshire Garden? We deliver a professional and personalised service and believe that by working closely with our clients we can ensure that they get the garden of their dreams.
In the meantime, may we wish you a Very Merry Christmas!
RHS Flower Show Tatton Park ‘Remember Me’ Dementia Garden
October 19, 2018 - Author: Garden_Designer
The Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity launched their ‘Everybody Knows Somebody’ Dementia Appeal in 2017 to raise £1.5 million to enhance the dementia and cognitive impairment facilities at Leighton Hospital in Crewe. In support of this appeal, The Cheshire Garden collaborated with the Charity, designing a scheme for the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park to raise awareness of dementia and its impact on the people of Cheshire. The finished scheme was awarded one of only three highly coveted spots in the Future Spaces category at the show which focusses on innovative approaches to developing outdoor spaces to meet contemporary and future needs.
The Cheshire Garden interpreted the Future Spaces theme by creating a conceptual garden which was rich in symbolism and designed to educate visitors about the journey taken by dementia patients. The title of the garden, ‘Remember Me’, was chosen in reference to the tendency of those with dementia to find memories from earlier periods in their lives easier to recall than those from the shorter term. Although it was not conceived as a therapy garden, ‘Remember Me’ included a number of elements designed to evoke personal memories, provide stimulation or create a comforting environment, with a view to inspiring visitors to develop spaces specifically for those with dementia to enjoy.
The Completed Garden
The Cheshire Garden chose a distinctive hexagonal shape for the garden both to promote a feeling of enclosure and security for its users and as a representation of the extensive support network required by a dementia patient, and this shape recurred throughout the design.
Entry to the garden was via ‘The Room of Inklings’, a specially commissioned wooden structure created by local artist Wendy Connelly of RAW-i Studios which replicated the hexagonal shape. The walls of the room comprised fascinating panels inset with bottles holding objects such as buttons, marbles and shells, while within were found rummage drawers containing tools and other everyday items. These features were designed to trigger memories, provide a comforting familiarity, and to stimulate conversation.
Emerging from ‘The Room of Inklings’ visitors entered an open space which allowed people to wander freely without feeling trapped. Hard landscaping materials were chosen which were mellow in colour with a uniform surface and texture, avoiding the use of shiny materials which those with dementia can perceive as water or unsettling black voids.
The centre piece of the garden was a floor clock set to 5 o’clock, a time of day when dementia patients can become agitated as they associate it with a period of activity such as coming home from work, cooking a meal or spending time with children. The clock hands also pointed to a washing line and a basket representing a comforting repetitious task.
The surrounding planting scheme was designed both to incorporate traditional cottage garden flowers which would be familiar to visitors, stimulating memories and providing pleasure, and to symbolise the journey taken by dementia patients from initial diagnosis to full-time care.
At the start of the journey were found bold blocks of brightly coloured plants such as Kniphofia, Antirrhinum and Dahlia, representing clarity of thought. This then gave way to a border of more integrated and less defined planting using a palate of more muted pinks and purples such as Delphinium, Dianthus and Lavatera, representing the muddled gaps in memory that begin to appear.
The journey concluded with a naturalistic wildflower meadow within which were positioned three old style hospital beds, symbolising the later stages of dementia where patients require full-time care. These were filled with fragrant herbs such as Chamomile and Galium triflorum, also known as Sweet-Scented Bedstraw,which are said to have therapeutic benefits. To the rear of each of the beds were positioned Corten steel panels laser cut with different flowers, echoing the dementia ward where flower images are used to identify each patient’s bed.
All of the design elements described above came together to create a space which worked both to provide a coherent and harmonious garden environment and as a stimulating and informative depiction of the condition of dementia.
The Cheshire Garden was delighted that the high quality of the ‘Remember Me’ garden was recognised by being awarded a Silver-Gilt medal in the Future Spaces category by judges at the 2017 RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. It was particularly gratifying that, with so many visitors to the Show and the subsequent publicity the garden received, The Cheshire Garden helped to bring attention to the Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity ‘Everybody knows Somebody’ Dementia Appeal. If you are inspired by what you have read about the ‘Remember Me’ garden and would like to support the appeal you can Donate Here.
Garden designer Jane Bingham, of The Cheshire Garden, is happy to provide behind the scenes talks about her experience of presenting a show garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park to gardening clubs, WI groups and other interested parties. Please contact The Cheshire Garden to make arrangements.
“We spend more time out here than we ever did before. Every time we come out there’s a different plant that’s come out or flower. It’s just wonderful, absolutely lovely.”
The clients work from home and wanted a beautiful English garden, full of flowers, that they could take a break in at different times of the day and enjoy from their conservatory when the weather is cooler.
The garden is divided into two with a shaded area to the very rear and a much sunnier aspect closer to the house. Opportunities for using the brighter end of the garden for entertaining were limited by an existing wall immediately outside the back door, which reduced the space available for adequate seating. The garden also had an extremely dark corner which was completely unusable.
The clients like an informal style and loved the idea of curved lines and relaxed planting that would work well in the mix of shaded and sunny areas. They also enjoy something a little bit out of the ordinary and had quirky existing features including a designer water butt and a flagpole. They love colour and wanted a vibrant planting scheme that included reds, purples, pinks and whites. Many of their existing plants had been given to them by their parents and naturally held special memories so they were keen that these were incorporated into the new planting plan.
Listening to the birdsong is one of the ways the clients relax, and they were keen to make the garden friendly to all wildlife, including the ground dwelling leaf cutter bees already in residence and buzzing around. As well as the rear garden, the design brief included the development of a new front garden to include a hard brick paved area providing expanded parking space for two cars, and a path that would lead from the front to the rear.
Our garden designer, Jane, is influenced by children’s stories and loves the idea of a magical garden that comes to life. Her design for this garden is curvilinear, with sinuous pathways creating a mini woodland walk reminiscent of the yellow brick road through the woods in The Wizard of Oz – an idea the clients loved. In order to create cohesion throughout the outdoor areas, this theme has been carried through into the front garden with a curved path detail leading to the front door.
In keeping with the clients’ desire to relax and enjoy their garden as much as possible through the day, a circular patio area was incorporated into the scheme. The spacious patio is designed to seat up to 10 people for dining around a large table and to be of sufficient size to entertain many others for drinks when the weather is fine. In order to harmonise with the materials used for the pathways, the patio would be built with sandstone and edged with clay pavers.
For the shaded bottom corner of the garden, where an old pond had previously been, Jane conceived the idea of an enchanted woodland area to contrast with and complement the sunlit social space.
The completed garden
Sandstone has been used throughout the garden for the hard landscaping elements with the same block pavers used to construct the pathways and to encircle the patio areas. These create the distinctive ‘yellow brick road’ curving paths which draw the eye along and through the planting.
A beguiling narrow path leads to an arbour seat in a corner of the garden that was previously dark and unused. Here the clients can now sit in a cool woodland glade and contemplate the full beauty and splendour of their garden at any time of the day. The inclusion of a hanging light in the arbour seat has also extended its use, making it a lovely and peaceful place to sit as the light fades in the evenings. Climbers trained against the fences soften the boundaries, adding height to the planting and giving a feeling of greater space.
Jane is an advocate of gardens designed to promote well-being. The redevelopment of this garden draws its owners outside to stroll along its meandering paths or to find a welcoming place to sit and relax whatever the time of day. The clients love to entertain all ages and the new garden perfectly accommodates everything from an energetic game of swing ball and children running along the little pathways, to al fresco drinking and dining for those who prefer something more sedate.
To encourage wildlife into the garden, appropriate habitats for the existing ground dwelling (leaf-cutter) bees’ have been included, along with holes in the fences for hedgehogs to pass through, a bird bath and feeders, and planting which attracts pollinators and provides cover for birds.
Plants evoke powerful memories of happy times and the clients had a number that they were keen to retain in their redesigned garden. Favourites such as Hydrangea, Forsythia and Buxus balls were relocated into more suitable positions within the garden. while Fuchsia, Lilac, Holly, and Pieris shrubs, along with Cherry and Apple trees also found a home.
The planting scheme delivers colour and interest in the garden all year round. A wide range of Spring flowering bulbs, evergreens, and perennials which flower from Spring, through the Summer and into early Autumn deliver a succession of captivating displays. This is further complemented by blossom, scent, and autumn colour and, with Winter structure provided by the Hydrangea flower heads, there’s always something for the clients to enjoy in their garden regardless of the season.
As a final touch, the long wall of the garage is enhanced by three circular beds edged with sandstone and filled with Rosemary, Clematis and, during the Summer months, Tomato plants which are illuminated by spotlights at night.
Final thought from the client
“We’re spending a lot of money and if we’d done it ourselves we would have spent a lot more and not got what we’ve got here. I think she’s [Jane] just wonderful.”
We were absolutely delighted to be awarded a Silver-Gilt in the Future Spaces category at this year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park for our ‘Remember Me’ garden. We created the design and built the garden for Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity to generate awareness about dementia and its effects amongst the people of Cheshire and their families.
Our design concept focused on evoking memories in order to enhance the person with dementia’s experience of their environment and reduce agitation and distress. We created a ‘home from home’ outdoor space where people with dementia or a cognitive impairment could enjoy the freedom to be themselves. The aim of the garden was to educate and inform visitors of the journey that someone with dementia takes, from first diagnosis through to potentially, 24 hour care.
We used flowers and herbs to express the degeneration of the mind, from bright, vivid snapdragons to white flowers, representing gaps in memory, and a wild flower meadow to show confusion. Our design incorporated hospital beds with calming herbs and head boards with cut out flower features to replicate Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity’s approach to dementia care. A hexagonal structure called the ‘Room of Inklings’, designed and built by international artist Wendy Connelly of RAW-I Studios, also created intrigue for our visitors with all sorts of artefacts used to conjure nostalgia for the past and childhood memories.
We were very proud that the garden generated so much interest for Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity’s ‘Everybody knows Somebody’ Dementia Appeal. We are so grateful to our main sponsors 4 Your Home part of Qualtex Ltd and County Homesearch as well as all the other organisations and individuals who contributed to make it all possible.
Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity and the team behind the ‘Remember Me’ Garden would be grateful for your support of the ‘Everybody Knows Somebody’ Dementia Appeal, whether a local business, group or individual you can donate by visiting Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity online by visiting www.mchcharity.org or contact at Emma Robertson 01270 273 248 or email@example.com.
Room of Inklings construction with Greenbelt Landscapes in Cheshire on Wednesday 31st May 2017.
Today was the start of the construction of the ‘Room of Inklings’, which has been created by Wendy Connelly of RAW-i Studios.
On a fine Summer’s day our talented landscaper Matt was busy cutting the timber while we checked out logistics for deliveries into Tatton for the build-up to the main event.
A run down from the day:
• Unusual shapes required precision measurements and angles in order to cut the timber to size;
• Template created so that each of the posts are cut correctly – particularly love the effect of the grain in the timber;
• The timber proved a challenge because it was live and moving. We did, however, achieve the authentic reclaimed look we were after, so we’re all happy;
• One of the wall panels was successfully installed in the background producing a beautiful canvas of waney and rustic wood with a ‘live’ edge.
• We still can’t quite believe that, in just two weeks, the whole structure will have been built. Finally, we’ll check that it all fits together as designed and then all that’s left to do is add the final finishing touches and voilà!