Thursday, 17 December 2015 00:11

Lessons From Great Gardeners

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Lessons From Great Gardeners

If you have ever wondered what it takes to create an incredible garden, the newly released Lessons from Great Gardeners showcases 40 stunning examples from gardeners throughout history and around the world. From Somai, to Andre? Le No?tre, to Claude Monet, the gardens featured in the book are stunning and enlightening, as Emily Williamson discovers.

In Lessons from Great Gardeners, Matthew Biggs has compiled a list of gardeners who revolutionised and refined gardens and gardening. Though this was not an easy task, the final list was chosen based on their talent, artistic understanding, freethinking abilities, and their impact on the gardening world. Biggs, who has been a professional gardener for more than 20 years and has lectured and written extensively on the topic of gardens, says he wanted to ensure that as many gardening styles as possible were covered, including several that were renowned in associated disciplines like art.

Biggs studied at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the United Kingdom. He has appeared on makeover programs, and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’. His
latest project, Lessons from Great Gardeners, adds to a multitude of published work including magazine articles and books on gardening. This wealth of knowledge and experience enabled Biggs to curate a selection of the world’s greatest gardeners and their gardens.

When asked what makes a spectacular garden, Biggs believes there are many things that can make a garden outstanding including being creative and artistic, or using unusual or rare plant species.

“There has to be something that makes it stand out from the crowd and have a ‘wow’ factor. This is usually combined with a high standard of maintenance and attention to detail, which creates the feeling that it really is a show garden and something very special. A great garden will influence and inspire others too,” he says.

While the book is filled with a collection of breathtaking garden images suitable for any coffee table, the advice that you will find within is what truly sets it apart. Readers are able to absorb a wealth of knowledge from some of the greatest gardeners in history in the ‘Lessons from the Greats’ section within each chapter. Biggs says you can have a spectacular garden like the ones pictured, if you are willing to get a little creative and make something that leaves people awestruck and smiling at the same time.

“Free your mind, be inspired by all things, do something different and prepare to experiment. Spectacular gardens are usually where the gardener has created visual entertainment by doing something extraordinary or extreme,” he says.

If you have a gardener within you who is limited by time, space or even water restrictions, Biggs says there are ways around these inhibitors. We are all so busy these days; many of us feel as though we don’t have the time to invest into creating a beautiful garden. If you are time poor, however, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a beautiful garden; there are many ways you can garden more efficiently and effectively.

“Cut down on time-consuming jobs like weeding and watering. Plant densely, use ground cover plants and mulches like bark chippings or a layer of grit or gravel to suppress weeds and make the job easier. Installing a drip irrigation system and timer in your garden makes effective use of water and saves time with watering, too. Don’t be over ambitious, and keep maintenance at the forefront of your in mind when it comes to creating a design, as it is maintenance that takes the time,” Biggs says.

Outdoor areas are getting smaller to accommodate growing demand on development and housing. If you have a limited outdoor area,there are still plenty of ways to maximise your space so you can enjoy a beautiful garden.

“Keep your design simple and garden vertically to increase the surface area for planting. Write a list of essentials; a place to sit, somewhere for the children to play, then plan the planting around those needs,” Biggs says.

Water restrictions are something many Australians have to deal with, particularly during the summer months. If you are facing restrictions in your area, ensure you design and choose plants that are appropriate for your climate.

“Put the right plant in the right place and choose something that naturally grows in the climate where it is being planted... (the plants will) thrive in these conditions, without needing extra water. Install a drip irrigation system, even in your vegetable garden,” Biggs says.

Whether you are just starting out, or have been gardening for years, there is always something new to learn. This book will show you what is possible in your garden even with limited time, space or water. It allows you to see how these renowned gardeners planned all the elements of a garden, from landscaping to plant placement, and how you can do the same.

Through the examples of great gardeners, Biggs hopes to inspire readers to discover their green thumb and create a beautiful garden that will be a valuable and enriching addition to their life.

“A garden is something to enjoy. It is good for the soul and a place away from the outside world where you don’t have to rush around but can potter while enjoying the beauty it has to offer. A garden is something that gives pleasure to you and others,” says Biggs.

 

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