A family garden

An actively used garden needs sturdy paths, tough but good-looking plants and strong, solid, boundary walls, fences or hedges. Play areas should be safe, well equipped and genuinelyenjoyable for the children to use, but also fit attractively within the overall scheme, without dominating it. If there is somewhere handy to store any equipment not in use, so much the better.

The hexagon theme of the secondary, sunny seating area at the rear of the garden is repeated in the shape of the children’s sandpit – the diagonals of both enlivening the rectangular plot.

The patio next to the house can be enjoyed by everyone and makes spontaneous meals outdoors an easy and enjoyable warm-weather bonus.

The plant-lover’s garden

For those who love plants and don’t have to worry about children’s football games, options are virtually limitless. Major garden centres have a stunning array of colourful, seasonal flowering and foliage plants for sale, and specialist nurseries and seedsmen can supply more unusual varieties.

You can stick to one type of flower, such as roses, or plant a mixture, such as old-fashioned annuals and perennials for a romantic, cottage-garden style. You can choose a combination of plants to provide an eye-catching display all year round, or concentrate on a seasonal display such as late spring or summer flowers.

Once you have your plants in place, you can add a focal point such as a statue or birdbath, which is especially effective if seen from the house.

The formal garden

You may prefer a more sophisti-cated, formal garden, with strong architectural features, rows of containerized plants and contrasting pavings. This is appropriate in a courtyard garden, or where the garden is overlooked by a living or dining room with a formal décor.

In this garden, freestanding trellis instantly and effectively divides the garden into separate areas without having to wait for shrubs or trees to mature. It also helps provide a feeling of privacy and sense of enclosure, without creating excessive shade or requiring regular clipping.

Think carefully about the character and types of paving, to avoid both fussiness and an impersonal look. You can add interest to plain concrete slabs with plants in pots or border plants spilling over the hard edges. Introducing a second paving material such as bricks, cobbles or setts for edging also helps break up any monotony.

Schemes for shady spots

Garden shade can he an opportunity as well as a challenge, since there are hundreds of handsome flowering and foliage plants that prefer a shady spot.

Whatever your garden’s size and shape, it’s bound to have a shady spot. It could be the north side of a high wall, solid fence or hedge, or a corner where two walls meet. Large shrubs and trees cast shade, and a neighbour’s tree is just as likely to shade your garden as one of your own trees.

When it comes to plants, shade is often considered second best to bright sunlight, but many beautiful flowering and foliage plants tolerate or even prefer shade. Even in a sunny garden, an area of cool shade affords a restful spot for the eyes on a hot summer’s day.

Shade varies from the dappled sunlight under a light-foliaged tree W^:^ *S/&

PLANTING GUIDE to the dense shade of yew. Shade can be seasonal

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