Whether you have a city balcony or a sprawling country garden, award-winning garden designer and botanical stylist Catherine Chenery shares her tips for making the most of it this summer
BIG IS BEAUTIFUL
With a large garden, you have the opportunity to create different focal points and destinations around it. Consider how the sun moves around your garden throughout the day. Is there a perfect spot for shade on a sunny day or perhaps the afternoon sun hits a particular area at 6pm? Why not make a feature with a bench or a couple of chairs and a table to create a little seating area, perfect for a G&T. Pull the borders out around the area to create a little nook or add a few containers with some scented plants.
If you have a large lawn, a specimen tree is a perfect way to break up the area and create interest. A multi-stem Amelanchier lamarckii is my favourite tree for this and it works hard year-round. In spring, you get the prettiest little white flowers followed by dark purple berries in June. The autumn leaf colour is stunning and even when bare in winter, the delicate frame of this tree is a feature in itself. Plant bulbs underneath to enjoy in the spring, and in summer, leave the grass longer and underplant with umbellifers such as Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ for a naturalistic look.
A quick scroll through Instagram will show you old-fashioned, big, blousy flowers making a hit. Blush pink peonies, Dahlias, hydrangeas and roses are all great favourites. Try Dahlia Cafe au Lait or Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’, which are both irresistible.
Some of my favourite perennials for summer colour are Astrantia ‘Roma’, Agapanthus ‘Headbourne Hybrids’, Nepeta Racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’ and Salvia Amistad, which has a particularly long season.
In a smaller outside space, add some height around your seating or dining area with plants to make the space feel enclosed. Use plants of different heights and textures in containers, and contrast flowers like Dahlias, agapanthus plus hydrangeas with softer grasses and more architectural planting. Add an exotic feel with Melianthus major. This large plant will have a big impact in a small space.
Garden designers and gardeners are thinking more ecologically and this will affect the way gardens are designed. Selecting local and sustainable products when choosing furniture and containers will be key. Using drought-tolerant plants is becoming more important. On a smaller scale, using twine instead of plastic-covered wire or creating seed pots from newspaper rather than using plastic can all make a difference.
An outdoor rug can work well in a small space by creating a zone and adding a splash of colour. Pick the colours up in your cushions, throws and accessories. The ‘outdoor room’ continues to rise with a trend towards homely touches, such as candles. Try bringing interiors trends into the garden, like brass gold cutlery for the table. Drinks trolleys are the ultimate accessory to add a chic, luxe vibe – Garden Trading sell a grey one that I love. Add a few herbs in pots ready to snip a few leaves as a garnish for your cocktails.
Catherine Chenery is an award-winning garden designer and botanical stylist. She will be speaking at The House & Garden Festival taking place 20–24 June at Olympia London; houseandgardenfestival.com