Classic Garden Plansby David D Stuart
For any gardener who is unsure of what to grow or how to put plants together in coherent planting schemes, this book provides answers. Many of the garden plans and plantings included are simplified versions of those created by great gardeners such as Vita Sackville-West, Margery Fish, and Piet Oudolf. The author's extensive knowledge of period plants, and how
For any gardener who is unsure of what to grow or how to put plants together in coherent planting schemes, this book provides answers. Many of the garden plans and plantings included are simplified versions of those created by great gardeners such as Vita Sackville-West, Margery Fish, and Piet Oudolf. The author's extensive knowledge of period plants, and how they were put together to look beautiful, has enabled him to re-create historical classics, like the Renaissance parterre or the Monet water garden, from contemporary planting lists and plans. Each garden is given a brief historical context, and its best qualities, seasons, and times of day are explained. Planting plans are given for each scheme, together with a shopping list that can be taken to a nursery. The book includes suggestions for adapting each plan to the limitations of a given space, and how to adapt the shopping list as well. Classic Garden Plans will be invaluable to any gardener who wants to design a garden with powerful historical associations, filled with authentic plants.
Mary Ellen Snodgrass
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Read an Excerpt
This re-creation of the gardens designed for William of Orange, later the joint ruler, with his wife Mary, of Britain, at the woodland hunting palace of the rulers of the Netherlands has become a classic showpiece of the Dutch baroque garden style. The original designs were drawn up by Daniel Marot (1661–1752) in the early 1680s; documents describe him as a mathematician, which he may have considered himself to be, though he is best known for his designs for gardens and interior decor. Though he worked mostly for aristocratic French patrons, in Holland he adapted to Dutch sensibilities and designed a garden that, though grand and costly, was entirely scaleable — the same idiom and the same planting could be used in the backyard of a tiny house in Amsterdam or Haarlem, and looked as good as it did at palace scale. Many pretty examples can still be found. In France, the immense schemes of André le Nôtre, or even those of Marot for French patrons, worked only at the very grandest scale, and so were of no use to minor gardeners.
The charm of these Dutch baroque gardens is that they not only make a showground for interesting plants, but are attractive throughout the year. Their structure lasts almost unchanged through the seasons. They can look as entrancing under snow as they do in highest summer. They are as pleasing from a window as they are to wander through, or to view from a trellis-shaded seat. And for lovers of symmetry and order, they are perfect.
They do, though, require work. Dutch gardeners were, and often still are, exceedingly diligent. In the scheme suggested, the planting spaces need clearing and refilling twice a year. The bulbs need drying and sorting, unless you plan to repurchase every autumn. Plants need raising from seed for some of the summer planting. The box hedges need at least one pruning a year to keep them sharp. The gravel needs to be kept clear of weeds and fallen leaves. Trellis, unless you have rot-proofed it, needs maintenance and repair after its first few crisp seasons. The grass, if you leave the pair of topmost sections empty, needs constant cutting and weeding. It is a garden of artifice and effort.
Though the garden at Het Loo has some exciting waterworks, the plan shows none. If water is important for you, then narrow canals could be cut running the length of the two central sections, and between the topiary obelisks and globes. The plan also does not commit itself as to the nature of the centrepieces for the lower pair of parterres, or the upper grass plat areas. Princely gardens used statuary, but good garden pieces now cost princely sums. It is hard to find good reproductions at all, and impossible to find anything worth using at most garden centres. Good reproduction urns, in both concrete (even if called reconstituted stone) or fibreglass, are much easier to find. Better still, the larger garden centres sell, or can order, quite good pieces of topiary, often grown in traditional shapes that fit perfectly into parterre gardens. Alternatively, you could centre the parterre on a large earthenware pot, filled with a dramatic plant — something too large or too floppy to go in the narrow planting beds edging the parterres: for example, an oleander, or a brugmansia or even a luxuriant planting of dusky red nicotianas.
The corners of the garden are planted with trees to give some suggestion of the wild landscape beyond the artifice of the parterres. The woodland of the landscape at Het Loo has formal rides cut through it for hunting.
In a garden like this, modern plastics are a huge help. The woven nylon sheeting called 'landscape netting' is especially good. It makes a perfect base for paths, for the gravel infill of the box curlicues, as a weed suppressant, wormcast deterrent and much more. Most sorts even have a grid of coloured strands to help with the placing of the design.
Paths first: brick, as usual, can look enchanting, ideally antique handmade bricks, a bit worn and rounded, placed on edge in a weave or herringbone pattern. They can be easily laid on netting with a finger's width left between them. Brush a dry fifty-fifty mix of sand and cement between the bricks, firm down, then sprinkle with water. Alternatively you can use all sand between the bricks; though this is less stable, and provides a fine germination ground for weed seedlings, the path can easily be altered or repaired. If you do not want brick, use a pea gravel and sand mix for the path. The sand stops the gravel grinding when you tread on it, and the mix soon compacts to make a good surface for walking. It is also resistant to scuffing, and the plastic sheeting remains hidden. Sand, particularly if not clean, can clog the netting and cause drainage problems, but these are easily cured by puncturing the puddle's base with a garden fork.
The planting area between the pair of outer box margins is best left completely clear of netting, which can become a nuisance if it begins to unweave. The nylon strands cut hands, and tangle trowels and handforks. If you use netting under paths, cut and pin down margins with U-shaped pins made of galvanized wire, 7 cm. (3 in.) long, hammered into the soil. The whole parterre region can be netted, and cuts made in the netting wherever a young box plant is to go. Fill the remaining area with light and dark gravels. Use river gravels, which have a nicer texture than crushed stone.
The trelliswork is made almost entirely of horizontal and vertical slats. The plan suggests enclosing the whole garden in trellis. A small parterre works best in enclosed spaces, so that the observer's eye is kept on the garden's detail. If you don't care for trellis, enclose with hedging. Yew is perfect, but holly is faster and equally in period, though picking up the clippings is a chore and fallen leaves are not much fun if you like walking in your garden barefoot. The trellis should be painted a rich mid-blue.
Pots and tubs are an important element in the garden. If possible, use terracotta pots, ideally decorated with swags, masks and so on. Versailles tubs painted deep blue or green are perfect containers for orange or lemon trees. Glazed blue and white pots were popular for smaller 'greens', but good contemporary ones can still be found, or can be made.
The side benches would only have been stone slabs supported on classical brackets. Good copies are easily available. The seat at the top of the garden should be more comfortable — made of wood, and painted in the same colour as the surrounding trellis.
The box hedging offers no difficulties. At the planting distances suggested, two or three seasons will pass before you have a joined-up hedge. In very cold regions where box won't grow, try whortleberry (blaeberry) (Vaccinium inyrtillus) or other local species of Vaccinium. Otherwise, box is tough. It gets occasional aphid infestations, but is never much damaged. It does, though, make a perfect hiding place for snails. A summer shower can bring so many to the surface of the hedge that twigs bend with the weight. Remove them.
For the planted bands around the parterre/plat areas, the design suggests two schemes for spring, one to be used on one pair of matching beds, the other on the other pair. In summer, the pots and tubs will provide enough to look at, so only one bedding scheme is given. The spring and summer schemes are marked by numbers on the plan, and are detailed on the shopping list.
The shopping list makes suggestions for what goes in the pots on the terrace area of the plan. In the 17th century, exotic plants were beginning to reach Europe from North and Central America, from the Middle East and India. Advances in glass technology provided orangeries for even quite modest gardeners to overwinter citrus plants, myrtles, persimmons or pomegranates, Carolina allspice and more. Even the classical olive, with its silvery foliage and picturesque way of growing, can look wonderful if overwintered away from the worst frosts. Smaller plants, including bulbs like sprekelia, eucomis, crinum, even the charming Mirabilis jalapa, are all good. Exotic architectural plants like the agave of Central America or the aloes of Africa also look handsome.
Meet the Author
David Stuart earned his doctorate at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and went on to a career in horticulture and landscape design. He was curator of Longstock Park Gardens for 14 years, during which period it held the national collection of Buddleja, a plant that he first grew to screen tennis courts. He now works as an independent horticultural consultant. He has judged shows for the Royal Horticultural Society and is a committee member and council member of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens.
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Color plans of 16 noteworthy and in some cases famous gardens from around the world are filled in with the plants in particular spots, and in many cases the pools, stonework, and other features of them. These plans are complemented by luxurious color photos of the plants in bloom. Stuart's work is not only to highlight the classic gardens, but to aid gardeners in recreating them. Most of the gardens are seen as meeting some purpose of their creators. A Japanese garden is meant to offer surroundings for meditation; an Indian garden is for the concubines of a Hindu emperor; Monet's water garden in France was a place for him to paint and to find inspiration and solace toward the end of his life. A herb garden and an orchard are also included. The oversize 'Classic Garden Plans' serves as a guide for garden design or a gift to a garden enthusiast. Stuart is a Scotman with a background in botany and writing who has done previous books on plants in history.