THE MODERN MINT BLOG
This is part 2 of our look at garden design trends for 2015. You can read part 1 here. Part 2 is based on suggestions made by the magazine Gardens Illustrated. We used them as inspiration for a blog post on garden design trends for 2014 as well – as they have lots of good ideas, well worth sharing!
(This book may also be of use to you – it takes you on a journey all over the world, looking at work by top garden designers. It was published a few years ago now, but horticulture is not the fastest moving industry, so it will be a relevant enough resource to inspire you… The Garden Source: Inspirational Design Ideas for Gardens and Landscapes.)
Garden Design Trends 2015, from Gardens Illustrated
Ulf Nordfjell, Landscape Architect
Designers should focus more to develop their own ideas. The risk is that we will end up with an era of international gardens in all countries where all more or less look the same. It’s encouraging to see that the use of Swedish materials, such as timber, granite and steel is growing, even if imported materials are cheaper.
Jo Thompson, Garden Designer
There is a trend back to softer, more organic lines, moving away from the overuse of vast soulless rectangles of concrete and stone, which once suggested success but now suggest ostentation.
Isabelle Van Groeningen, Designer
The trend for grow-your-own as well as being properly self-reliant continues to rise in Germany. This ethos can be found in all types of garden and levels of society. From balcony boxes carrying prolific crops of old tomato cultivars, small gardens in garden colonies to community gardening projects as well as the finest urban gardens.
Teresa Moller, Landscape Designer
I think to design simply for aesthetics is not enough by itself. I would love if people would start to think of more than just beauty in their projects. We must focus on how nature gives us gifts that we can eat, drink, smell, feel and learn. We need to see and understand that nature is not just for beauty – it is for an experience.
These are just a few of the lovely words from the Garden Illustrated article, but they give you a sense of what these wonderful designers are thinking at the moment. We don’t agree it is a bad thing if gardens begin to look the same all over the world, though we understand where Ulf’s fear perhaps comes from – people do like to copy what they have seen elsewhere. For example many British clients will ask for a Japanese garden and spend vast sums of money copying a style of garden that doesn’t fit the landscape. Nor will the client necessarily engage with the garden and the cultural references the rocks and gravel intend the viewer to ‘get’. An English version of a Japanese garden might work – mounds of grass instead of stones – if the designer and landscaper were careful not to make it look too much like teletubby land…
We imagine this copycat garden style is repeated in other countries too – the beautiful ‘English’ lawn in Shanghai, or the rose garden in Perth, or the formal box parterre attached to the back of a house in Singapore, alongside exotic trees and fruits – there will always be people who take ideas and use them without understanding them, or ‘must have’ something even if it is in poor taste.
But what also happens when garden styles are sought out, photographed, written about and shared, is that people find a way to generate their own work from these fresh influences – they may begin by pastiching something they have seen, but from imitation will come understanding and eventually the kindling of something new. We are all for this openness – if it homogenises garden style for a time then so be it, because eventually people will come along and rail against it.
Look at the work of Amalia Robredo, the Uruguayan landscape designer who was involved in our Chelsea Fringe project last year – she has worked relentlessly to champion her countries native plants – because they are fabulous plants, as well as being troubled with extinction.
“The place where I live… has a very specific plant community that only takes place in this coastal area, it is called “matorral espinoso psamófilo” (Our Note: ‘the spiny scrub?’), it holds some endemic species and it is an endangered community due to urban development.”
We can’t wait for people to document the gardens of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Romania, Finland, Mali, Guyana… let the world show us what it has, and (Ulf is right) let designers develop their own ideas.
Teresa Moller’s words, that we must focus on the gifts of nature, sounds almost like a call to arms. It echoes the work of Fernando Caruncho at Mas de las Voltes, where he planted a wheat field for his client and surrounded it with olive trees, orchards and grapevines…
“In summer the wheat is tall and golden and the great plots sway in the wind. There is fruit in the orchard. Autumn brings the grape harvest and the cutting of the wheat. In winter the earth is plowed and sown and marked by wonderful patterns. And in the spring once again, all is a sea of green.
What could be more enobling than producing flour from the wheat, wine from the vines, oil from the olives and fruit from the trees? In a sense this is the first garden…”
We think Teresa Moller has it right – that if we are to have a garden design trend for 2015, then let it be one focusing on how nature gives us gifts.
You can buy Ulf Nordfjell’s book here at Amazon – Ulf Nordfjell: Fourteen Gardens
And Teresa Moller’s book – Teresa Moller and Associates: Unveiling the Landscape – can be found there too…
We hope you enjoy your garden in 2015!
Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …
Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …
Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …