There’s nothing quite like walking into a garden of clipped yew, with structural planted hedges holding the garden in eternal balance; while the seasons come and go, these stately structures remain constant and unvarying.
The thing I enjoy most is the contrast between these often massive evergreen monoliths and soft, floating planting that can froth and foam around them. Herbaceous planting has that unique quality of growing at huge speed and softening even the strictest of clipped schemes of a formal garden.
In my garden designs I like to use a fairly formal approach in the underlying framework of the garden, using box balls and accent plantings of clipped yew or beech to give year round body. My pallet of hard materials is kept to two or three different natural elements to keep the design streamline and avoid fussiness.
I can use this framework to design a garden that is either classical or contemporary as the underlying principles are the same and it is the final details of planting and ‘decoration’ decide which direction the garden will take. Contrasting grasses and massed block planting with clipped hedges will give a garden with a modern feel while using a cottage garden planting in the same space would obviously result in a far more traditional space.
I love the fact that either would result in a garden that is both pleasing to the eye and a thoroughly enjoyable space. The important thing is to get the initial balance of structure verses planting and then you really can’t lose.