Village Life – May 09

Get inspired! May is an exciting time. The garden is bursting with energy, and I can’t help feeling inspired by the prospect of the lush display of flora soon to come.

Finding inspiration isn’t always that easy. The creative spark is elusive. One moment it can drive you on to great things; the next it vanishes, usually when you need it most!

These days, when money is tight and time is short, inspiration often takes a back seat. When looking to spruce up your own garden, taking the easy option is very attractive – what could be more sensible than neatening up the garden to be low maintenance? The downside of the easy option is that it can be just, well…dull. The same old plants, year after year: nothing exciting waiting to poke its head up and shine; no breathtaking colour combinations?

It doesn’t have to be like that. With a little bit of inspiration, anyone can create something out of the ordinary – something you can make a personal connection with and feel passionate about.

So where do we go for inspiration? At this time of year there are loads of places to try. You could buy a magazine which showcases beautiful gardens, or attend a big event like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (19-23 May). Such visits give you a glimpse of theatre, and often feature new products, materials and design ideas (as well as Pimms at £5 a glass!)

On the cheaper side, you can watch the TV coverage of the shows (and buy your own bottle of Pimms) or even better, go and visit a local garden, open under the National Garden Scheme. You can find details of these in ‘The Yellow Book’ (available at some Tourist Information Centres) or at The owners vary from keen amateur gardeners to seasoned professionals. Either way you will discover enthusiasm, genuine advice and, most importantly, ideas to take back home.

When designing for clients, my inspiration comes from several sources. The most important are the wishes of the client, but I always take a lead from my long held passion for plants and flowers. I love to see overflowing planting, burgeoning from beds and borders, as seen in great gardens like Sissinghurst in Kent; the slightly smaller but equally beautiful Coton Manor in Northamptonshire, and the tropical Trebah in Cornwall. I take influences – colour combinations, shape, form or scale – from gardens like these when designing my own schemes.

Away from gardens, anything can be used as a source of inspiration – music, literature, history, nature, colours, shapes. Once you’ve found that something that interests you make a point of using it. Even if you change just a small patch of your garden in this way, you will have created something personal, meaningful and satisfying.

Grow your own update

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Ladies and gentlemen, we have growth! Our shallots, cabbages and peas are all flourishing. The beetroot is doing its best, but sadly our carrot crop has fallen at the first fence, not even bothering to poke its head out of the ground. That’s not very inspiring!