Can your garden make you happy?

The garden is a healing environment for most people and in the last few years I've been working to make mine the right kind of garden, one that will make me feel uplifted. So here are my tips for becoming a happy gardener:

  • For me it's important that there is a feeling of space an openness with sky filling half of the picture, so avoid very tall hedges to the side and choose trees with height and spread in mind.
  • consider the shape of the garden: a winding horizontal path looks well in a long garden. A wide, shallow garden needs a beautiful boundary like a mixed deciduous hedge with clematis for the summer. 
  • I like the sun so I have maintained the trees at the back on both sides with a gap in the middle. 
  • I like lawns for softness.
  • Cotswold gravel bounces light and warmth even in winter.
  • hard landscaping and structures like pergolas transform outside spaces and are worth the investment. A pretty shed or summer house can really enhance the garden. Position them in the sun.
  • aim to achieve a balance between planting and garden architecture. You don't want to pave over paradise but too much green can look gloomy.
  • I used to be a plant enthusiast but I don't think plants give as much to the atmosphere of a garden as the landscaping does, and they are more time consuming to tend. I have a few pots of perennials and some climbers but no regular borders crammed with plants. And an empty pot is a bit like an empty shelf in a cupboard, it gives you possibilities. 
  • You can achieve colour by dressing the garden with cushions, canvas chairs (which I must get out) or bunting. I love my Tibetan prayer flags.
  • borrow from your neighbours: plant trees in combination with theirs so the canopy looks seamless. Our neighbours are expert gardeners so I chose a low fence where the brick wall ends to enjoy their garden as I walk to the back gate with Max.  
  • have a favourite spot, mine is a raised bed of cornflowers which I grow from seed every year. They have a special meaning for me and I have to have them. As you can see they aren't quite out yet. 
  • I suppose it's obvious that no part of the garden should be a place to dump unwanted things. I admit we have a few bits of wood underneath the oil tank but everything is tucked to the side of the garage and pretty much out of sight. 
It is such a joy to walk out the door into a light space which is a haven for us all. I am either heading to the summerhouse to knit or going out with my four legged friend. I never feel I have a long list of garden chores to get through; the hedges are cut professionally twice a year, David mows the lawn and I potter. That's it, garden nirvana. 

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