I am currently reading - and adoring - The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift. It's a book about the creation of a garden in Shropshire, but so much more than that: astronomy, agriculture, history, geology and countless other areas of knowledge feed into Swift's description of turning a bare field into a series of gardens inspired by former residents of Morville. (This woman's learned, writes beautifully and created a huge, wonderful garden, Yes, I want to be her.)This book has thrown up a hundred different trains of thought in my mind, but the current one is the different forms of inspiration for creating gardens. Swift's garden conjures up an imagined place inhabited by different characters from the past: but others seek inspiration in eveything from quantum physics to the music of Bach. Last Sunday I visited a garden inspired by art: not individual paintings, but the style of an artist.
I think my favourite part of Kathy Brown's garden in Stevington, Bedfordshire was the Barbara Hepworth garden (pictured above), which was sparkling in the September sun. I don't know much about Hepworth but this garden certainly made me want to learn more, which was perhaps part of the point. There were other gardens inspired by Kandinsky, Mondrian, Monet, Hokusai and Rothko, plus French parterres, a cottage garden and an orchard: I'll try to upload a gallery of more images later in the week: in the meantime visit Kathy's blog and site for more info.
The other wonderful thing about Kathy's garden was its playfulness - which was handy as I took my two-year-old daughter along. She adored the playhouse and the tyre swing. She insisted on stroking a huge bumblebee resting (along with dozens of honey bees) on the Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy' but fortunately it didn't sting her. She also loved the shells in the Hepworth garden and the Humpty Dumpty figure on top of the Mondrian-esque wall (just visible in the picture above). And the squash and chocolate sponge at the church hall afterwards went down very well, too.
Anyway, this garden, along with the Morville Hours, led me to thinking about the inspiration for my garden revamp (which I am hoping to get under way next year, building work allowing). Up until now I've been lusting over individual plants, planning shapes of borders, mulling over shades of patio stone and whether a pergola or an arch would be best. But perhaps there should be something more cerebral behind the pretty flowers? A overarching concept, a theme? Or is that a tad prententious for a 70ft garden on the back of a 30s semi? I wouldn't want anyone to think I was taking myself too seriously, after all. Advice welcome, in the usual way below.