As I write my article for this month, I am gazing out the window at my own garden and am appreciating how important it is to have a focal point and evergreen shrubs in the garden at this time of the year.
It is a dreary wet day and the multi-stem silver birch we added to the garden just over a year ago has really come into its own. The white bark looks stunning even on a day like today, and with the orange and red tipped stems of the Cornus Sanguinea ‘Mid-Winter Fire’, this combination looks very pleasing indeed.
No matter how big or small your garden is, having a permanent or seasonal focal point can be used to catch the eye and draw your gaze in a particular direction. In a larger garden it is possible to have more than one focal point in different parts of the garden, but avoid doing this in a smaller garden as this will have the opposite effect and make the garden look too busy.
Your focal point could be a summerhouse, a specimen tree, or an architectural plant like a palm or a cluster of ferns that create an impact. A focal point could be achieved by using vibrant colour, for example the Canna lily ‘Tropicanna Black’ or a single variety of white foxglove planted in a border or positioned in a dark shady corner will look stunning.
In a smaller garden your focal point could be a bird bath or a statue. Consider carefully its position, sometimes it can be tempting to place the object in the centre of the garden or border or even the middle of the lawn, but by placing it slightly off set to the side will make it look less twee and give the illusion the space is bigger than it actually is.
If the object is heavy and difficult to move, enlist the assistance of a ‘willing helper’ to stand in the chosen location ‘and make like a tree or statue’. This will enable you to view how it will look from different angles before making your final decision, always a great game to play with your partner to see how patient they can be!
When choosing your focal point consider the style of your garden; If your garden has cottage style planting and meandering paths, then perhaps a statue surrounded by soft planting would look best, but if your garden is more formal, then a series of identical obelisks would be more in keeping and complement those straight edges in your design .
Next month I am going to talk about evergreen shrubs and how they provide essential structure for the winter garden.
Until next time Happy New Year!