There are three ingredients I see in all my favourite gardens. They are bold, they fit and they have character.
All have a distinctly BOLD design. Hard and soft landscaping both designed to generous proportions. It’s not fiddly and bitty; each and every component has impact and confidence – each component very definitely meant to be there.
The best gardens also have ‘FIT’. Fit with their immediate surroundings; fit with any nearby buildings; fit with the region and country they find themselves in. They look comfortable in their surroundings, almost as though they had always been there.
Finally, they have CHARACTER. For me a garden can’t be like every other garden. One that reflects the personality of its owner in some way, has quirky features or some other uniqueness about it, always has more appeal. It transmits the thought and love that has been put into it; it tells a story. An unloved, vanilla garden never feels the same.
There are thousands, if not millions of gardens that contain two of these three ingredients. And they may be pretty nice for it. But when you see a garden with all three, you really know it. A total novice would pick how exceptional it was.
In my last blog, I explained how the garden at Bells of Killcare taught me something new about connections. If we can find enough commonalities between plants, the most unusual combinations can work fantastically well.
Bells was also one of those special gardens that has all three of my favourite ingredients. And all three in spades.
Everything about its layout and plantings are bold and confident.
These timber posts and chunky rope really hold their ground and yet they fit perfectly with this more rustic part of the garden.
These tightly clipped balls, sharply edged paths and unifying mulch give very deliberate definition to this lake side setting.
The garden is also cleverly integrated into the surrounding bush and morphs into more formal styles close to the buildings, with everything in between. The fit is seamless wherever you go.
And I just adore its character. Most hotel and restaurant gardens, if professionally designed, have a distinct lack of character. They may be ‘perfect’, but sometimes perfection is a draw back. Perfection looks like every other perfect garden. There is rarely anything special or unique.
But Bells has an open herb and vegetable garden, with its own resident scarecrow, in a prominent location, not hidden back of house.
It has a little peach tree that you look out on to from the restaurant, surrounded by cheery, bright orange dahlias. There is nothing formulaic about these plantings. There are just there for pure pleasure! You can’t help but smile when you see them.
Great skill, immense thought and a bit of playfulness has gone into these gardens. Around every corner you get a lovely surprise. Something new, something, no matter how many gardens you have visited, that you have never seen before.
Bold. Fit. Character. My big three. Any other biggies that you think I have missed?
Some of my favourite photos of Bells show the outstanding use of Australia natives. Truly some of best examples of native plantings I have seen to date. So one more blog post from Bells, exploring how we can translate their ideas for residential gardens. Until then…..!