Archives for May 2012

Garden Tour – Jardin Nazari, Spain

I’m currently residing in Spain and while I’m here, I’m taking the opportunity to visit the local gardens. So, I thought I’d share my tour with you virtually here. On Sunday, I visited Jardin Nazari in Velez de Benaudalla near Granada.

It’s an historic garden that was restored about three years ago. It is one of the last Nazarian gardens in Andalusia. So there is a lot of Islamic influence here, as in many gardens in this region of Spain.

Important Functions of the Garden

Gardens with an Islamic influence were designed to provide men and women with the five most important benefits of life:

  • The spiritual – a vision of paradise on earth
  • The aesthetic – it must stimulate the senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing to inspire us to be more artistic and create art
  • The psychological – to help us to relax, contemplate, observe, enjoy and rest
  • The botanical and scientific – to create a place for research (these gardens were chosen to grow new plants and spices brought from other continents).
  • The nutritional – the Nazari gardens grow fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Water is the strongest element, coursing through every part of the garden in a different way. At the top of the garden is a natural water cascade which gushes down into a channel that carries water to areas in the rest of the garden.

What I loved about this garden is the intrigue and imaginative blend of old and new materials. Cut travertine stone mixes perfectly with old stone walls and it looks fantastic. The garden isn’t large but the meandering paths that lead you down a narrow staircase that’s been carved out of the mountainside add lots of interest. You never know what is going to be around the next corner.

Once you get to the lower level, there are caves and grottos that are filled with ferns, moss and a cascade of water that’s very refreshing to walk under on a really hot day.

If you are driving to the garden from the coast, I recommend you take the old road to Granada (A346) – the scenery is absolutely stunning.



Any Gardens You Recommend?

I would love to know of gardens anywhere in the world that you think are worth going to visit. Please leave your comments below.

Next week, how to choose the right plants – some cunning tips to help you know which plants will grow in your garden and which won’t.

More photos of this garden can be seen on my Facebook page.

Planning to Design Your Own Garden?

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How to Plan the Perfect Patio for Your Garden

Last week we looked at how to plan the perfect deck. This week it’s the turn of planning the perfect patio. Just like with a designing a deck, a little bit of planning goes a long way when it comes to creating a great looking patio. Putting your ideas down on paper will save you a lot of time and, potentially, money, and will ensure you get your dream patio.

Planning on paper first allows you to see if your ideas will work. It’s also much easier to change your mind and make adjustments on paper than it is during construction.

If the thought of plotting your patio onto paper seems like a daunting task, don’t worry; it’s actually much easier than you think.

It will give you the opportunity to make sure your patio works with the rest of your garden. You don’t want to build your masterpiece only to have it looking like it fell out the sky and landed in your garden!

Critical Patio Design Details to Get Right

It’s important to get the right shape, size and materials. The patio needs to be in proportion not only to your house but the rest of the garden. Too big or too small will always look wrong, no matter how hard you try to disguise it after it’s built.

Getting the right shape for your patio is one of the most critical parts of successful garden design. Shapes can create interest. They can make an area look and feel larger or smaller. It’s vital you choose a shape that enhances your home and garden and helps you get the most from your outside space. But avoid shapes that are too complicated.

Patio Design Software

To begin with, it’s better to grab a sheet of paper to try out your ideas. Resist the lure of the complex online design software. Useful as these free tools can be for working out the quantity of materials you will need, their prime purpose is often to help sell more paving. So keep that in mind, as the software’s suggestions may not be the best design for your property.

Patio design software can often come up with unnecessarily complicated schemes. Complex designs can look good on the computer screen but in reality they don’t usually make the best use of the available space and will often make areas feel awkward. This is especially true if there are lots of unnecessary level changes and angles in the design. Good design is usually very simple in concept.

How to Incorporate Changes in Level in Your Patio

Changes of level need to be handled with particular care, as these will have an enormous impact on how you use your garden. A level change will create exciting opportunities to make a stunning use of the space.

Done correctly, a change in height from one part of your patio to the surrounding areas of garden will enable you to add interesting features like built-in seating, planting beds, lighting effects and water features.

The main thing to make sure you do with a level change is incorporate it in a way that flows naturally so that it is instinctive and easy to get from one area to another. You don’t want your friends and family tripping up on an unexpected level change.

Building on a Budget

It can cost virtually the same amount of money to build a well-designed patio that enhances your home, linking it beautifully with the rest of the garden to one that’s boring and badly designed. So plan carefully before you build.

Once you’ve planned the size and shape of patio you want, you will need to consider the cost of the building materials. There are many options available to you, from natural stone,concrete and reclaimed stone paving. Research what’s available in your local area that works with your tastes, budget and design.

Learn more, attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

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