Shelter, support and shape
All kinds of structures can transform your garden. Sheltered seating areas, supports for climbers, garden buildings and sculptures all fall into the broad category of structures and each category creates opportunities for a garden designer. They all create focal points and many are used to add the third dimension of height in a design.
Arches, pergolas and obelisks are great as the supports and skeletons that enable plants of all kinds to grow to the sky and thrive. Willow is a favourite material for obelisks, we also like green oak for arches and pergolas and wrought iron can look very elegant. Clean lines tend to be the most effective – especially if you’re framing a view - and it’s useful to think about the colour of your structure. Pale shades appear finer and more delicate than dark but we do love black with vivid green climbers for something a bit different.
Think carefully about your planting for a support structure and you can create colour throughout the year. A combination of different clematis types – such as May-flowering ‘Constance’ and September-flowering ‘Bill Mackenzie’ – with old-fashioned roses can work well. Other plants that climb well include honeysuckle and jasmine. Then something like Hydrangea petiolaris doesn’t even need full sun to thrive.
Whatever your preferred materials, there are artisan craftspeople here in Cumbria creating out of the ordinary garden structures. Charlie Whinney helped our team to construct a wonderful bent wood pergola for the Cumbria Life Home and Garden Show back in 2020 and we’ve worked a lot with Phil Bradley, willow weaver extraordinaire from Deanscales near Cockermouth. Clare Farley of Pinfold Pottery near Penrith makes beautiful terracotta planters but she also builds unusual garden sculptures to commission, including at least one that has featured in an RHS show garden. The list goes on with Andrew Kay’s stunning metal animal sculptures, Woodstyle’s summerhouses, Mountain Oak Woodcraft (who can turn a simple fence into a work of art) and, a little further afield, Fire Pit Design in the northeast.
If we have a Buzy Lizzie trademark structure, it’s probably curved stone seating. This defines a sociable entertaining space, works well with fire pits and is great built into the bank of a sloping garden. Perhaps the main benefit – and the reason we work on quite a few in Cumbria – is the shelter from the wind created for your guests! We have even combined a curved wall and seat with a water feature, constructing something unusual and dual purpose. Water features come in all shapes and sizes, modern and traditional, and we can even design and build ponds and cascades that look natural, encourage wildlife and add the peace and tranquillity of water in a garden.
Finally, if you’re adding a structure to your garden, always think about the foundations. Getting these right will preserve your investment and ensure that it looks good for years to come. Whether you’re erecting a garden building or a simple pergola, planning a sculpture or a water feature, it’s worth consulting an expert landscaper to explore your options for the position and foundations so that you can get things right from the ground up.