For me, it’s the silly season. We are working flat out, trying to get gardens done in time for summer. One recently, more or less finished garden, is the now infamous Spanish Courtyard…

Progress Report – Spanish Courtyard Garden



This is an updated photo of the garden which was featured in the garden design video tutorials. There are still a few plants left to put in but it’s coming together nicely. The water feature is somewhat bigger than I was told it would be, but apparently it looks in proportion when you are in the garden!

How’s The Landscape Man Doing?

Despite being rushed off my feet, I have still found time to watch Channel 4’s Landscape Man. Tonight’s episode was another interesting one. The client’s budget was £250,000.

I’ve been writing about the importance of design when planning a garden and this week I had high hopes because they had a real live designer involved! Yay, at last. Trouble is he didn’t come across as overly effective. He was so busy with his Chelsea Flower Show preparations, that he had to let the client’s get on with it half way through.

They didn’t seem to mind that much but even so, I didn’t feel it was the best advert for designers. I was also left feeling that they’d spent an awful lot of money with not a great deal to show for it. Yes the terrace was nice and the large specimen trees were beautiful but I found myself asking ‘Why?’ a lot throughout the programme.

Screenshot Ch4 Landscape Man – Main terrace


Putting a modern, ex-Chelsea, show garden in part of the garden, close to that style of house didn’t ever seem like it was going to turn out well…

To me, it just didn’t feel like the design flowed coherently. The pleached hornbeams didn’t seem to do a lot, other than be really out of proportion with the width to height ratio of the path they surrounded. It looked uncomfortable. I did like their metal pergola though, that was very nice.

Screenshot Ch4 Landscape Man – Pleached Hornbeam – tad too high?

I’m a great believer in putting things in the garden for good reasons. They created a ‘stumpery’ (if that’s how you spell it) which is basically dead tree roots with ferns planted in. Ok, interesting idea but why? It didn’t really do anything for the look and feel of the garden.

Screenshot Ch4 Landscape Man – ‘Stumpery’

I am looking forward to next week’s show though. If you read the comments on the review I did on the first Landscape Man programme, you’ll have read Ed’s comments. His garden is next in line to be shown in the series and they had to cope with a very overgrown 4 1/2 acre site on the south coast of Guernsey. The garden is lashed by strong coastal winds, so they have had to create a garden that works with harsh conditions.

Everything Should Earn Its Place In Your Garden

If you are in the midst of planning your garden and have lots of creative ideas, sit with them for a little while to make sure they are really right for your garden. Random ideas never work well, it’s really important that features tie in well with everything else in the garden. And if you plan to design your garden on your own, check our online garden design courses. 

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

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Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

    11 replies to "Spring Gardening Madness"

    • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Yolanda A. Facio, plantmad. plantmad said: RT @successfulgardn Great Time For Gardens? […]

    • Willie Hewes

      A stumpery? Huh. Interesting.

      I love the perspective lines + mirror thingy you’ve got on the blind wall in your Spanish garden. Clever, and it works really well. Like a secret magic doorway.

    • Alison Kerr

      LOL, I’d better come up with something I need help with then – it’s a little frustrating hearing about a TV show which I have no access to.

      One thing of interest is how to save money on hard landscaping. What tips do you have on choosing materials and designs to keep costs down?
      .-= Alison Kerr´s last blog ..Back Yard Makeover – the plan =-.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Thanks Willie, I love that idea of a magic dooorway ;o)

      Great question Alison. I do know of lots of ways to save money on hard landscaping. I will add that to my list of topics to write about. And don’t worry about Landscape Man – I’m sure someone will stick it on YouTube, then you’ll be able to watch!

    • Carrie

      I have a large, flat garden I’m developing. I’ve a large pile of extra dirt left over from some drainage areas and I want to make a berm with it. Are there any hard and fast rules about size, shape, etc? Other than try to make it look somewhat natural?

    • Rachael

      We moved into a house on 0.34 acres last summer. The yard is very little grass, Bermuda and St. Augustine, and lots of weeds (read: native stuff). I’ve put in 4 4×8′ raised beds (cinder blocks) and have pumpkin, cucumber and gourds growing in an area next to the raised beds (vining out on top of the weeds). Otherwise its wide open, and no fences except around one neighbor’s yard. We don’t have much money to spend, nor much time, except in the summer. I work full time as a teacher and Hubby is a PhD student. I would love an herb garden, and more veggy space, and perhaps a few flowers, and to lose a fair bit of the yard that isn’t nice to look at anyways, except when its freshly mowed. This means I’d love ideas for getting started, and ways to stuff in small bits of time, but isn’t too off the wall — we will move when Hubby finishes the PhD. We are in central Texas (very hot and mostly humid, little rain come summer, but winter is mild)

      I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and perhaps you’ve done some on this, and I’ve not seen it yet. Thanks for all you write! I’ve learned a lot.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Hi Carrie

      I actually have no experience with berms (well other than really tiny ones around individual plants) I did find a good article that might be useful for you

      Rachael – thanks for your question, I should definitely write more on where and how you start the garden design process. It’s now added to my topic list!

    • Sonia Simone

      Amazing how you can spend that much on garden design and still get a designer who pikes off halfway through the project.

      I’m not sure a “stumpery” would be for me either.

      Here in Colorado we’re enjoying the very brief window between winter and summer. We can’t even call it spring, it’s too short. Maybe it should just be spr. 🙂
      .-= Sonia Simone´s last blog ..Pssst! The Remarkable Marketing Blueprint is Making a Comeback =-.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Laughing! At least you get a proper summer – we just get su (that’s 4 days when it’s almost considered warm)… ;o)

    • […] Spain where we finished planting the Courtyard Garden. You may remember at Easter, we put in the bones of the planting scheme. By bones I mean the main feature plants, the ones that add permanent structure and form the […]

    • Caroline

      Would be really interested to know more about pleached tree use and particularly growing your own if that’s possible. Would be a great solution for my new build overlooked garden

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