Pro Landscaper August 2017

Page 80


Trillium chloropetalum var. giganteum

Podophyllum pleianthum

Central seating area, steps leading to bog garden

Salvia omeiana ‘Crûg Thundercloud’

Rodgersia podophylla

Designer PLANTS David Keegan pushes the boundaries of the common garden space for this ‘enchanted forest’ project

Every so often, a project comes along that allows for a less restrictive approach to design. Freed from the average constraints of ‘a place for the kids’, or ‘terraces to catch the sun’, this project allowed for something completely different in both approach and planting palette. Existing trees provided the inspiration for the space, along with the shade required to create the right environment for a forest garden. When viewed in pictures, and from the kitchen window, one could easily believe that the area is part of a much larger forest – an intentional deceit. Here, that illusion is reinforced, and boundaries suffused, by a line of Camellia. This takes the eye higher into the canopy of existing ash, a single glorious pine and a sweeping cherry, which takes your breath away once 80

Pro Landscaper / August 2017

Designer plants.indd 80

covered with its pale pink blossom in early spring. This is further enhanced by the arrival of the woodland bluebells, accompanied by Saxifraga hirsuta’s fine haze of flower spikes. In reality, this area was a tiny lawned space to the rear of the property, hemmed in by dense conifers and hiding a mound of grass clippings and garden detritus. The brief was to create an

evolving picture that would be visible from the kitchen window. One of the main advantages of the area in question was its raised elevation in relation to the house, which meant the soil level was virtually on a level with the bottom of the kitchen window and worktops. This gives the

effect of a raised bed, drawing the eye directly into the vicinity of the forest at ground level. The initial planting outline is added to and tweaked season on season. One of the biggest gambles to begin with was the introduction of tree ferns to lend height, volume, texture and difference. Many thought it completely bonkers to include tree ferns in a garden in Oldham, Manchester, but with the client’s understanding of the risks, we pressed ahead. Thus far, our gamble has paid off handsomely – so much so that we have added to the initial number in recent years. The largest tree fern stands at an impressive 9ft tall. Weighing in at about half a ton, it required six men to carry it to its planting location. The fronds on these ferns are the biggest I have seen outside of either New Zealand or Devon and Cornwall, and last well into two years before they must be trimmed to make way for new fronds. In the six years they have been in situ, we have covered the crowns against frost only twice, without damage or consequence. Meanwhile, the

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