Wash away your winter blues by dreaming up a pretty summer garden
IF YOU are feeling a bit glum now that all the excitement of Christmas and New Year has worn off, then it's good to have something to look forward to in the year ahead.
It may be that you are already busy booking your summer holidays.
But for me, the best remedy for winter blues is to dream about your beautiful summer garden.
When spring arrives in a couple of months' time, you will probably be itching to get out into the garden to begin work on this year's masterpiece.
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Winter is the perfect time to plan your project while the garden is mostly stripped of foliage and the bare bones are exposed.
This makes it much easier to see what you've got and assess the garden as a whole.
I know how tempting it can be to add a little something you fancy each year.
But unless you decide from the outset how each element will work together when they're finished, the garden can appear cluttered and fussy. The garden needs to have a clear structure and layout to produce a strong visual impact.
It's worth deciding early on what is most important for you in a garden and what you can most likely see yourself using it for.
The garden will be far more successful if it is based on a plan that focuses on one main purpose or theme, especially if you have limited space.
Often when it comes to gardens, as with many things, less is more.
For example, if you love cooking, the garden could be treated as an extension of the kitchen.
Weatherproof outdoor kitchen units could be incorporated into raised beds planted with culinary herbs, fresh to pick and prepare at arm's reach.
Maybe you love hosting a good party. Well, your garden can become the perfect place for your friends and family to enjoy. Have a luxurious outdoor dining area and lounge, complete with coffee tables and perhaps a dramatic fire pit to gather around.
It could be that you feel a garden needs to be all about the plants.
In this case, it could feature a beautiful lawn with bold sweeping curves, surrounded by deep borders filled with swathes of magnificent colourful herbaceous perennials.
Another approach could be to bring the holiday to you by creating a garden that evokes a sense of the Mediterranean.
Imagine a warm, terracotta tiled patio and cast iron bistro, set under a vine draped pergola, with a subtle water rill trickling by your feet.
Alternatively, you might wish to recreate the tranquillity of a mystical ornamental Japanese garden.
If your main priority is to encourage wildlife and get closer to nature, then your garden could be transformed into a beautiful natural looking oasis incorporating trees and a wildflower meadow, sloping down to a secret pond.
So whichever type of garden sparks your imagination, now is the ideal time to plan your perfect plot, ready to enjoy for the summer ahead and for many more after.
Gardner Designs is offering a 20 per cent discount on all garden design services commissioned before January 31.