It can be daunting faced with a new garden - and I mean a new garden. Brand new house, no garden to speak of , builders rubble lurking under the compacted soil , not so much as a weed to inspire even an experienced gardener that just possibly, an oasis will one day arise from the mud patch. 
As a new client said in her inquiring first email 'Where the hell do you start?!' And I quote. 
My answer of course was - 'With someone like me'. 
Most new clients come with at least some experience albeit unwilling, others come with a lot and very willing, but confronted with something resembling the Somme can take the shine off their brand new home. A garden designer comes to the first visit with an unemotional eye. Not without excitement mind, as this prospect is a blank canvas devoid of sentiment - so anything could happen. 
 
At first I just listen - where have they come from, tell me about your last garden - often a family's history unfolds and some aspects of that home will need expression here. And the important question - how do you want to spend your time in the garden? The response here is often also a reaction to the last garden - less work , more relaxing - and pottering. Truly I do not believe there is a translation into any other language for 'pottering'. 
Having thought about how you want to interact with the garden gives a designer an idea of what your needs truly are and from here we can build up a picture of the functions of the garden rather than the features. Ineveitably the under belly of the site's needs will revealed - where to put the bins, store tools, hang out the washing... 
 
The designer's job is to bring all these practical factors into a workable system that makes the best of the site you're given. But upper most will be the vision of a peaceful haven, whether than means relaxing listening to the birds or digging the vegtable plot. A designer helps with making all the detailed decisions of making it a reality - where to find the right landscaper, which paving and fencing, where to find particular artifacts or joiner, blacksmith, gardener...not to mention plants. 
 
Your job is to do your onsite homework as you can help with the designer's site analysis. Which path does the trajectory of the sun follow? - where are the sunny spots at particular times of day? Where are the soggy spots and the dry shady spaces, which direction is the prevailing wind? What about the neighbours? These are always aspects that you will be more aware of and will have to live with and is valuable information that will direct the design. 
 
Make your wish list and bear in mind that much of your relationship with the garden will be looking at it from within the house. As I write the rain is hammering on the roof - again! But sunnier days are ahead and to make the most of them, it all starts with some sound, thorough planning. 
 
And the end of the month 27-28th April, I will be at Powderham Garden Festival with my first exhibition stand - among hosts of plant nurseries , garden artifacts, music, food and entertainment - see you there! 
Tagged as: garden design
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