Well only what I have learned by trial and error over the years.
I know that when I go round a garden centre that I want all the other people there to have to hang a picture of their garden round their neck so that I and everybody else can get a look and decide whether some body who is spouting off about the right way to grow this or that puts any of their knowledge into practice.
I know that gardens are for relaxing in so they need to be as maintenance free for most of us as possible. I also understand the need to create “rooms”. This helps you to tackle one area at a time and stops you from fiddling in one spot only to be distracted by “ I never saw those weeds over there” and “over there” with the result that nothing gets done.
I know that when tackling a new garden you MUST start with the big picture and work out the “hard landscaping” – technical jargon for paths, patios etc. This includes where to put seats – there is no point in creating a great garden if you don’t create spots to be able to sit and admire your handiwork. It’s really good to introduce some screening to create semi-hidden areas to add an air of mystery and suspense. Then when you have finished your layout and it looks good DON’T KEEP CHANGING IT. At home our garden has retained its pathways and layout for nearly 40 years except for getting rid of “Pompidues Grave” a raised bed built of purbeck stone and planted with heather that ran riot.
Remember that garden design depends on what you want to do in it. Friends of mine wanted to be able to play football big time even though they lived next door to a park and its pretty difficult to grow plants in borders that are trampled over by enthusiastic players. Children can be accommodated of course but their facilities such as climbing frames need space and often sensible screening.
Over the last 2 years I have had the pleasure of helping in the design of two gardens. One was for my son and daughter in law with their 2 young boys in grounds that had been let run to rack and ruin and the other was gardens for a Victorian gentlemans residence which has been converted into 9 holiday flats. My daughter and her new husband have bought a 10 year old property whose garden has largely not been altered since it was laid out by the original builders and I am hoping to be allowed to make suggestions and do some of the work.
I hope these comments have caught your interest and that it will be a springboard to more short articles designed to help your garden develop over the next 12 months.