Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

I have been wowed by the perfection of the naturalistic planting schemes presented to us by leading designers at Chelsea this year. This is a style of planting that I particularly like; complex, textural, dynamic herbaceous perennials bolstered by strong structural forms such as carved stone or wood and clipped living buttons, balls, cubes, rectangles, cones, spirals and clouds.

At this time of year it is the herbaceous perennials that are the stars of the show, be that in our gardens at home or at Chelsea. However these are just the final detail in the overall design, put in to soften the functional elements such as pools, paths, hedges and garden buildings. Get the layout right and then you can have fun with the planting.

During Chelsea week I scrutinised my own garden borders which are naturalistic in style but planted in drifts for easier maintenance, not surprisingly they left me with a sense of disappointment. My budget for the garden has not stretched to finished topiary shapes and unless I partake in daily tinkering there will be few days in the year when the beds will look like perfection. Scrutiny is good however, it helps me to see what needs to be done and if I am to be master of my borders that means regular input and time.

Unlike in the house, nothing stays the same for long in the garden, plants don’t stay where you put them, weeds sprout up, things flop, lawns get shaggy, flower spikes fade, rabbits and slugs nibble, etc… None of this occurs in a show garden, gardening at home is a process over time, enmeshing the gardener with the seasons where rewards are directly related to effort.

The magic is that most of us see beyond our efforts, our minds bending what is reality into a beautiful finished picture possibly like one of the gardens at Chelsea?

The Laurent-Perrier Garden 2014 Laurent-Perrier garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei