Where to draw inspiration when creating your own garden design
People often ask me: "Where do you draw inspiration from as a garden designer?"
Personally, I try to be open to inspiration in all my experiences, not just when viewing other gardens.
Historic gardens are inspiring – even the mention of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon fires up my imagination with images of a lost mythical paradise.
Italian renaissance villa gardens also offer a great deal of stimulation, with the wonderful and ingenious water shows on display.
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Formal French gardens like Versailles and the Mughal Tomb Gardens of the Taj Mahal can't help but inspire awe due to their sheer scale and complexity.
At the same time, they maintain overall simplicity and perfect harmony.
But I have a strong desire to be original when designing gardens, so I intentionally try to draw inspiration from unusual and unlikely places.
Some of the basic building blocks of garden design, such as shape, form, colour and texture, can be seen all around us in man-made and natural forms if you look hard enough.
I find lots of inspiration in simple things like patterns and symbols from other cultures, or pebbles and shells from the beach, all full of detail, whether designed by man or nature.
My inspiration starts when I first arrive at a new project and the potential of the site becomes apparent.
Every garden is unique, with its own quirky set of factors to consider.
Figuring out exactly what problems the garden poses is not always an obvious task – particularly when it's something you are accustomed to looking at over many years.
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, so often, the gardens that present the most challenges result in the most interesting end result.
Sometimes the most overlooked, uninteresting and cramped-feeling outdoor spaces can, with the right treatment, become really special gardens.
One of my primary sources of inspiration is the client. After all, the garden should feel like it has their personality reflected in it and that it is right for them.
Your lifestyle plays a crucial role in the way a garden is going to be used, be it for dining, relaxing, playing or any number of other activities.
The purpose of the garden can become inspiration in itself, rather than just a necessity, if a theme is repeated through the design based on its intended use.
People are even more varied and individual than any garden so given the opportunity to explore the client's interests, it is possible to create unique and individual statements within the garden in the same way that you can inside the house.
I always try to create gardens with personality.
Where you draw inspiration from and what style of garden you decide on ultimately comes down to personal taste.
But you don't have to conform to strict conventions of a particular style like modern gardens for example, which typically feature angular clean lines.
It is more important to understand what works for you within that style and how to get that effect in the best way, rather than just replicating it.
So whether it be from looking at other gardens, flicking through some books, solving the problem of that damp shady patch or just finding an interesting shell on the beach – get inspired about your garden.